What is so magnetic about Rookie? The online magazine, started by teen fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson and run by a stable of editors and contributors of all ages, says of itself, simply: "Rookie is a website for teenage girls." So why, then, is Rookie's work—essays, interviews, art projects, playlists—some of my favorite contemporary media? Why does nearly every twenty- or thirtysomething woman I know read Rookie on a regular basis? There's nothing else quite like it, on the web or in the world.
Take the newest physical book they've put out, Rookie Yearbook Two (Drawn and Quarterly, $29.95), basically a greatest hits compilation from the past year. About the size of a magazine but three times as thick, it's a talisman of modern young feminism. The cover image is of two androgynous humans, one giving the other a haircut—let's subvert the gender binary, and by the way, let's hang out and do each other's hair! Inside, pages are ringed in images of sequins, flowers, drawings of M.I.A., sliced up photos of Grace Jones. It feels like a thoughtful and inherently feminine object, and to hold it is to love it.
Inside are essays by the site's various authors, all of whom go by just their first names, as if we're all friends here. Topics run from "Black Girl Lessons" to sexism in gaming culture to "a report from both sides of the male gaze" by a trans author named Tyler to interviews with Carrie Brownstein, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and female boxer Claressa Shields. And it manages to somehow be casually radically feminist, if that's possible. Maybe it's "for teenage girls," but there's no holding back on politics and sex and blood. You can flip through less than 20 pages, and Yearbook Two drops the words "patriarchy" and "cunt"—without any fanfare and in very appropriate contexts—and adds a note before an article on periods that says, "This article is for anyone who gets their period, regardless of gender." (That piece is illustrated in part with a picture of a bloody finger.)
There is still, even now, a dearth of media made by women for women, and for Rookie, a website whose editor in chief is, let's remember, 17 years old, to be so ready to pick up that mantle and run with it, and then to be so complex and intersectional? It's a minor miracle. The book and the site feel like a riot, a celebration, overflowing with advice and hero worship and a sort of road map to your own agency, no matter what age or gender you are.
Now they're having a party in Seattle to celebrate Yearbook Two, and it's the most Rookie-ish thing you can imagine, retro and creative and participatory and accessible and fun. Gevinson and some local Rookie contributors are gonna hang out at the Vera Project for three hours, in conjunction with local small press festival Short Run, to talk and sign books and have a zine workshop. Obviously: GO TO THIS THING. No one is making media like this, and I, for one, am ravenous for more of it, whether it's in person, online, or on paper.