It’s time to cry: Jessica Wakeman leaves the Frisky today
Today is Jessica Wakeman’s last day at the Frisky, and yours truly can barely contain his emotions.
On Tuesday night, this site’s Twitter account tweeted a rumor that Jessie was leaving.
On Thursday night, that rumor turned out to be our worst fears. It was confirmed that the curtain was coming down, and Jessie was leaving after nearly five years, with this tweet.
I do not know where to begin, so here is a background on how I found Jessie.
It was in 2011, during a big down time in my life and while I was at Denmark Technical College. The post I ran into was the one about a female cop named Ruth Hernandez being axed by the Thomson (Ga.) Police Office – this about 72 miles to my west, and this was a big local story.
And the now 30-year-old’s name appears as the author of that piece. Don’t believe me? Click on the link in the previous paragraph.
After I saw that story, I decided to follow Jessie on social media.
Usually, when no one else sends panda imagery, I am the one to usually do so. I was the one who sent Jessie a nice pic of the Bing Panda, which showed up on my Nokia Lumia 521 (an average phone that has decent coverage as long as you are not along and north of US 78 from CLEMSON ST and to the east or along a 13-mile stretch between JASMINE LN in Williston and MONTMORENCI RD in Montmorenci – this phone prefers that we travel along US 278, and that is a good thing).
Then I rifled back in the archives and saw the essay Jessie wrote about depression. I read that piece and thought to myself about my own struggles with that illness, one that I was diagnosed with in the spring of 2000. I have had two serious relapses with depression: one in November 2010 and another bridging the end of 2012 and the beginning 2013.
After that, I began following the Frisky near daily. A lot of the pieces linked here since I resumed writing on February 18, 2013 tracks back to pieces Jessie wrote. Some of my favorite pieces included a story about a Morgantown, W.Va. restaurant owner showing a sexist customer more skin, one when she called out Kevin Harvick’s fans for sexist attacks on one of the Cope twin sisters, where she made a parody of some idiot radical Christianist group trying to compare flowers and sexuality, her praise of premarital sex because about 97.9% of all of us are doing it these days (and some of us men never get married!), and her piece about the gang rape of a man by four women on Easter Sunday in 2013, a story that was covered by exactly one other American (out of tens of millions) besides her.
Unlike in New York City, where competition between feminist writers is fierce, I have no real competition as my pad is about the only one along the eastern part of the Central Savannah River Area, one of the only ones that cover Georgia and the Carolinas extensively, and the only one outside of the immediate Augusta metro area that is within the CSRA.
But, just because there is a 762 mile difference from New York City to Windsor and Williston, that does not mean that Jessie has not had an impact on me in some way.
Jessie helped me see my own privilege and confront it head on. She was one of those who helped change some of my old and outdated thinking. After the #Sendgrid-gate that happened right around my birthday last year, I started writing about the abuse and harassment that women – Jessie included – faced while on the web. And I learned just how deep and revolting the harassment women faced was. Screenshots, tweets and links to some of the disgusting things men said about women was all too real. That repulsed me so much, that I decided to start reporting and exposing abusive social accounts when at all possible. Because of the fact that I started to defend women from abuse, I am also subject to occasional abuse from misogynistic trolls myself: nearly a year ago, there were examples of people creating troll accounts on Disqus just to attack me no matter what I wrote on articles Jessie and others posted.
As Jessie and others now know, I may have been gentle, but I loved rough hard street name signs.
She is tough as nails, but she loves the soft, cuddly pandas.
I am grateful to know her a little bit and see how she became a better person with the pieces she wrote for the Frisky.
I also was fortunate enough to let her know if anything needed correcting and I also usually shared her posts if the state of South Carolina was involved in some way.
Now, as of 19:30, the same time as the football games begin tonight, I won’t be able to do that anymore.
I am broken.
I am disheartened.
I am fighting back tears.
Goodbye, Jessica Wakeman. Good luck at your new gig for YouBeauty.com.