12 February 2009

23| the lowest common denominator

subtitle: an open letter to all the magazines that haven't gone under {yet}

i hate, with the passion of a thousand burning fires , cosmopolitan magazine.
what i hate even more than cosmo is just about every other so-called women's magazine that tries to make women into a lowest-common-denominator. no such thing. and i understand that in the world of publishing {or the world of everything}, you're never going to please everyone. but as long as you're not repressing people i'm okay with that. i feel as though in the past five years many of my favourite magazines, and many great magazines that i didn't know i loved until they were almost gone {domino} have gone by the wayside, and then enter whatever the so-called most read magazine in that genre to scoop up the remainder of good-magazine's readership.

amanda at first milk was talking about sassy magazine yesterday, which falls under the category of magazines-that-i-never-read-but-wish-i-had. however, when i was 21 {which isn't as long ago as i make it sound} i too lost my first love, jane...also published by conde nast.

in light of amanda's post, i revisited the jane website today, which has been shut down for just over two years. a press release issued on the front page reads as follows:

Dear Jane Reader:
With regret, Jane and janemag.com are no longer being
published. In their place, we invite you to explore Glamour magazine and
We think you’ll love Glamour.com. Like Jane, it’s packed with
everything smart, sexy women want to know—about your body, your beauty, your
relationships … and more!
Jane Magazine

this is the point in the mourning process where one moves from sad, and displaced, to furious that someone could even suggest that you could ever replace your precious hamster, or magazine in this case.

beyond my feeling of mourning over the loss of domino {which, i am presently ordering back issues of, because holy crap, where was this when i needed it}, i feel repressed by women's magazines. the ones directed at style and sex. the glamours, the cosmopolitans, the marie claires of the publishing world.

specifically, i feel repressed about my sexuality, and specifically with regards to the female orgasm {insert gasp here. no boys, it's not a myth}. cosmopolitan ran an article this month entitled "An orgasm almost killed her: We're not kidding". It was about a young girl who had a pre-existing heart condition, and was on the Pill. The Pill led to a blood clot as can happen, and the blood clot moved up to her heart during sex because of an increased heart rate.

so, basically, cosmopolitan is implying that women should not have orgasms, because you might have a stroke. simplified? perhaps. but to title the story "An orgasm almost killed her" is pretty irresponsible journalism. furthermore, the story talks far more about the orgasm's role than the role of the Pill or the woman's pre-existing heart condition. It's not that far {in my mind at least} from someone having a stroke after going for a run, and the publisher claiming that it was the exercise that caused the stroke, not the heart condition, or the clot, or the Pill.

i despise how a vast number of magazines have made women into some sort of lowest common denominator, and assume that none of us will ever give up the so-called freedom that comes with the Pill, so to blame someone's death on it would be media suicide.

i digress.
mostly, what bothers me about cosmopolitan, and glamour, is how blantantly hypocritical they can be. they talk about the empowerment of women such as marianne pearl and drew barrymore. they talk about how far women have come as a gender, and what womanhood means. but then, they turn around and offer forward a list of 75 ways to please your {male} lover. without getting into the sexual identity politics in america, why is it that the ratio of article on male pleasure to those on female pleasure is nearly 3:1? i would place sexual pleasure alongside the voting and property ownership as rights for which women have struggled on some level {political or personal}. that's not to say by any means that i think the sexual pleasure of a woman is more important than their right to vote. but given how far we've come on a lot of other fronts, i find our discourse on sexuality and pleasure to be incredibly antiquated.

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