I seem to remember Deborah Frances-White from The Guilty Feminist podcast telling us that it’s better to just not ever read Women’s magazines because of the sexist rubbish that has historically littered them. That’s a sound piece of advice – I’ve certainly been following it for a few years now. On Apple News though, it’s a different story.
Whilst The Sun, The Daily Hate and their associates have all been blocked, for some reason I am yet to blacklist any women’s magazines. Maybe it’s because I hold on to the hope that one day they’ll go all Teen Vogue and stop telling us things like Cheryl admits she doesn’t know how to CLEAN her own house, and instead use their power to spread the word about things like The Human Cost of a Cheap Manicure.
Don’t get me wrong though, the typical women’s magazine things like recommending makeup or hair care aren’t in any way a waste of space. It’s useful, and taught me once that if I line my eyes with black, it’s probably not a good idea to leave the purple-y hues underneath without any concealer. I was slow to adopt, I’ll admit, but the lack of sleep at A-Levels meant that I would essentially give myself a black eye every morning if I didn’t conceal, so (thankfully) I took up that habit.
So, no, I’m not saying that these magazines as a thing are bad. I’m saying that I’m confused how some self-proclaimed “women’s magazines” have lasted in the last decade, despite genuinely making entire articles based off of facts like a member of The Saturdays has housekeepers.
I know what you’re thinking – what about Buzzfeed? What about all the articles that essentially just grab quotes off Twitter and call it journalism?
I don’t find a problem with these articles. Why? Because if people didn’t click on them, they wouldn’t make them. And I’m gonna guess that actually, it takes a fair amount of work to gather all those tweets – not quite as much as a classic newspaper article, admittedly. But I’m not about to judge someone for writing or reading 21 Hilarious Tweets From 2019 (So Far) That’ll Leave You In Stitches in their spare time. The person that’s going to face some judgement is instead the editor who allowed Drop a dress size for summer with this fast-track slim-down diet. Seems that publishers have no problem with perpetuating the idea that dropping a dress size is of higher priority than having a weight that’s healthy for your body, no matter where that puts you in the scale of dress sizes. Again, if people didn’t click on them, they wouldn’t make them. But some of that clickbait is more harmful than others.
Maybe I just need to be more diligent with the kinds of publication I allow to share space on my News page – or maybe it’s the publications which need to change.
You may of course be thinking – what’s the point? A few not-so-feminist articles here and there never hurt anyone? But if we cease to criticise magazines about these ‘articles’, they’ll keep on making them with the belief that they can get away with it. I can’t help but feel like come one sexist story, come all.
Luckily, things do seem to be changing. At a snail’s pace of course, but it did take me a good while to find other evidently sexist article titles after the Cheryl one which catalysed this. Luckily not all magazines which claim to be for women are like the few I’ve mentioned above, but there are unfortunately a few out there still clinging onto the patriarchy. Hopefully some day, someone like Cheryl can (not) clean her own house in peace.