Can an upstanding werewolf-owning writer who is kind (enough) to (dress) animals (up in her own clothing) and donates money to NPR have a crush on a college student?
Yes. If that college student is the preternaturally poised, focused and articulate Jamie Lauren Keiles.
As a senior in high school, Jamie began the Seventeen Magazine Project, a social experiment which functioned as a sort of pro-teenager, feminist analysis of Seventeen Magazine and media culture at large. Since then, she has gone on to run the Chicago SlutWalk and write for Rookie, a website for and largely by teenage girls spearheaded by the equally poised, brilliant Tavi Gevinson who, side note, I sometimes think might be a robot. Fashion, writing and now singing? Save some attention for the rest of us, Gevinson!
But back to Jamie. Now a student at The University of Chicago (to which I absolutely did not lure her with promises of meta-feminist analyses and string cheese), Jamie is December’s Crush of the Month!
Hometown: Doylestown, PA
Profession: student mostly; writer when I’m feeling legitimate
Hobbies: hypothetical questions, food, hoarding jam jars and yogurt containers in case I need them in the future
Our Town What’s your experience been like at The University of Chicago?
Jamie Lauren Keiles Academically, masturbatory. I spent a lot of time sitting around and reading things with no apparent bearing on my future. I’m never really sure if I’m getting smarter, but sometimes when I’m drunk at parties I argue about theory, so I think I might be. Or maybe I’m just getting more pretentious.
OT You’re known for your Seventeen magazine experiment. What inspired it?
JLK Senior year of high school was boring and easy. Spent a lot of time in the library reading magazines—most of them of the non-teenage variety. Eventually I ran out of content and moved on to Seventeen. I was sort of dumbfounded at how inane the content was. It was like, I go to high school with tons of interesting and brilliant young women and the content being sold to us was 99% crap. The project just kind of seemed like a logical next step.
OT At an age when most teens are just scribbling in their journals, your writing was widely read. Any regrets?
JLK Looking back I’m embarrassed to have taken such public and definitive stances. I think I knew the “right answer” to things before I had the reasoning/historical perspective to legitimize my opinions. Reading some of my older stuff reminds me how much I have to learn before I’m actually smart enough to make such concrete statements again. I don’t think I would have changed anything though. Writing for a large audience taught me how to take criticism [and] made me more willing to put myself out there. I got a lot of the uncomfortable things about creative work out of the way early on.
OT What was it like to organize Chicago’s SlutWalk?
JLK As a learning experience, fantastic. I got to meet tons of people from all over the city. I learned a lot about managing conflict. Something our planning team really struggled with was being attached to a larger, global movement. The name recognition of SlutWalk came with a lot of baggage that we didn’t necessarily endorse, specifically in regards to trans and race issues. I think if I were ever to venture into large-scale organizing again I’d be more careful to have more control over the messaging of the event. The media (and the blogosphere) has the ability to take things out of context and use parts of a discussion to discredit an entire movement. Obviously SlutWalk wasn’t perfect, and it didn’t satisfy or meet the needs of everyone, but I think it was an important part of a conversation on feminism, and that sometimes got distorted.