Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

Nanu Spotify Playlist: International Women's Day


To accompany International Women”s Day today, Elyse has compiled a bumper six hour, all-female playlist for you to enjoy. There”s a bit of everything – from hip hop to riot grrrl, electro to pop.

Have we missed your favourite fierce and empowering

To manner friends Maybe cialis side effect good fresh glitter into

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female track? Please comment and let us know!

My First Hitchcock: The Birds

The Birds

As a rule, I don’t like horror films – not because I scare especially easily but more due to the fact that I am both disgusted and bored by gore. However, I recently read about the relationship between director Alfred Hitchcock and star of The Birds and Marnie, Tippi Hedren, a model and actress discovered by Hitchcock in the early 1950s. Hitchcock’s reported unreciprocated obsession with Hedren effectively ruined her career: her contract with him preventing her from working for anyone else. Perhaps most shockingly of all, however, during five days of filming of the penultimate scenes of The Birds, Hedren was in fact pelted with live birds.

the birds hitchcock

This real life romantic obsession/revenge dynamic was fascinating to me. So, while I may claim not to appreciate the genre, I decided there was analysis to be had in The Birds: also known as My First Hitchcock. Of course, the film has been reviewed numerous times over the years, and there is simply one aspect I want to focus on: the female characters, specifically Melanie. I expected little from the female characters in this film: firstly because it was produced by a man in the early 1960s, but more specifically due to Hitchcock’s feelings regarding Hedren. I was thus pleasantly surprised to discover that, for the majority of the film, Melanie is in her own right a fantastic character. She is confident and strong, warmly charming those around her in order to

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achieve her goals. Her relationship with Annie (Suzanne Plechette) is something that I feel modern day film makers could learn a lot from.


(Suzanne Plechette and Tippi Hedren in ‘The Birds’)

Although there is brief animosity between the two invoked by their respective relationships with the male lead, Mitch (Rod Taylor), Melanie and Annie do not treat each other like bitter love rivals, instead respecting each other enough that they even become friends. Perhaps more realistic than the hair pulling cat fights seen frequently in more recent productions. Melanie is also taken seriously throughout the film. For example, when alerting locals in a café to the dangers posed by the gathering birds, she is not dismissed as simply an irrational woman – because she is not. My positive feelings about the film and its female characterisation lasted until the penultimate, bird-chucking scenes. While Mitch and his family sleep in the living room of their house that has been boarded up in order to prevent death-by-beak, Melanie decides it would be a great time to carry out a little exploration upstairs. Naturally, this is when all feathery hell breaks loose. As she slowly climbed the stairs, I felt myself screaming at the screen. Why would a character who has otherwise been so rational and intelligent decide to make this move? Curiosity? Hysteria? Rebellion? It’s fair to say that Melanie’s reputation of rebelliousness precedes her at the beginning of the film, but she adamantly defends herself throughout, both vocally to Mitch, but also in her behaviour. My fear is that she is sent upstairs in order to make Mitch the hero, the stereotypical image of masculinity, carrying Melanie’s limp, injured body back down the stairs and leading the family to safety. I wouldn’t have such a problem with this if that had been the apparent dynamic throughout the movie – but I truly expected more. I did enjoy The Birds. The suspense was fantastic and I appreciated that it resulted from something other than the threat of an axe murderer. I will definitely continue to explore Hitchcock’s work, but my expectations of characterisation have been pared right back once again. It’s a shame, that.

The F-Word – "Whether you like it or not, you’re probably a feminist"


I've decided to do something slightly different with the blog this week as, although women in sport is a massive and really interesting topic, it's also a fairly fact/stat-based one where there's not a lot of debate to be had. So a huge thank you to Claire and Alex for talking through it so well last night, but I'm going to use this space this week to chat about something that's been bothering me a bit recently – why are people so reluctant to call themselves feminists?

I began The F-Word in the hope that talking about subjects relevant to most or all young women today in this way might make people stop and think “actually, this does affect me – I must be a feminist then!”. Yay, congrats, nice one etc. End of. But I've come to realise in recent weeks that it's not as easy as that. Yes, feminism is having a massive identity crisis

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and one that's leaving young women in their thousands alienated and intimidated, and that's a problem that I'll hopefully also touch on. But at an even more basic level, these same young women seem to be fundamentally misunderstanding feminism in the first place. Please don't get me wrong – I'm not for one minute pitying these women or tutting and shaking my head at them or whatever. I think that their views, rather than being born from ignorance, are a product of society and some branches of feminism itself – which is more than a bit disheartening when you consider some of the things I've heard recently.

I've heard someone adamantly declare that they're “definitely not a feminist”, while another said that she might be if she “read into it a bit more”. A girl in a tutorial I was in recently said, in all seriousness, that she thought “feminists [were] mostly just lesbians”, while another woman described her friend as being a “hardcore feminist” because she believed that her boyfriend should pay for everything on dates. Someone else told me that feminists were “scary and exclusive”. Aside from noting that I seem to be quizzing everyone in my life on feminism all the time, there's a bigger point to take from this. Yes, there's a spectrum here, and there might be some remarks there that most people would agree are missing the point. But others just make me a bit sad really; the idea that feminism is an academic position, or the idea that a movement fundamentally built on equality could come across as exclusive.

For me, feminism comes down to one thing and one thing only – do you want to be equal? If I sat down with each of the young women above and asked them whether they wanted to be paid less than a man for doing the same job, or whether they were happy to be called a slut if they wore a short skirt, or whether they were cool with being whistled and leered at on their way to the shops, I'm pretty sure the answer would be a resounding no. So something has definitely gone wrong somewhere along the line.

I think the ones that depressed me the most were the woman who said that she needed to read more books, and the one who described feminists as “scary and exclusive”. Sadly, I think these are really common misconceptions about feminism and, even more sadly, I think they come from somewhere far more real

than the collective 21st century woman's imagination. I personally think that the only qualification needed to be a feminist is that you're human – altough feel free to correct me if you think I'm doing the canine population an injustice – and believe in a good quality of life for everyone. Feminism is beneficial for men as well, not just women; gender stereotypes are damaging to all genders, and the economic empowerment of women can be nothing but helpful for the economy as a whole. I entirely reject the suggestion that men can't be feminists, and I think it's vitally important that they are for a whole host of reasons including economic, political and social ones. It's up to individual women if they want to engage in these more 'academic debates' or in activism in the traditional sense but, fundamentally, they should be respected for their decision, whichever one it is. I admire women who engage in activism and I believe that it often does have great results. But I also don't believe for one minute that marches, demonstrations and rallies are the only form of protest, and I don't believe that a woman is any less of a feminist because she chooses not to engage in these.

I think a basic premise of feminsim is that women should be able to make choices about their own lives and that these choices should be respected by other people and obviously other feminists. I fully agree (and argued about it in last week's blog) that women are a group of diverse and different people and we're never going to agree on everything all of the time. That's fine. But it's not fine, as far as I'm concerned, to attack a woman over a decision to wear pink, or high heels, or to stay at home and bake because, in this day and age, these are all decisions rather than requisites, and decisions that were only made possible by the feminist movement in the first place. Personally I'm quite partial to my high heels (in this sense I probably don't have much of a choice, but that's less to do with being a woman and more to do with being under five feet tall), sparkly jewellery and all the rest of it. But I still want to be equal and respected. There's no logical correlation between the two.

The main thing tying all the above quotes together is that these are all young women who don't seem to realise that sexism, and consequently feminism, affects them. I don't want to be depressing – “you thought your life was great? Well guess what, you're actually oppressed!” – but my point isn't that these women aren't experiencing these issues, it's that they aren't identifying them as being feminist issues. So for these women who are all Edinburgh students in their early 20s, maybe childcare and pay gaps aren't the most important problem for them right now. But I'm willing to bet they've all received unwanted attention in a club, or felt apprehensive walking home alone once, or felt that they couldn't speak out when laddy boys at pre-drinks made them feel uncomfortable. That's what my shows are all about; I've tried really hard to make sure that each one is about a topic that's big and broad enough to make women – and men – stop and think about whether it's affected them. And chances are, it has. So I'm sorry ladies, but whether you like it or not (and you should definitely like it), you're probably a feminist.


The F-Word: Chivalry


As always, a big thank you to both guests on this week’s F-Word: Oliva Rafferty who argued for chivalry as a form of benevolent sexism, and Daniel Swain who felt strongly that it was an old-fashioned and irrelevant argument.

While I can genuinely see both sides of the chivalry debate, I do find it hard to support the suggestion that it’s old-fashioned and not worthy of our time (sorry Daniel). To me it seems that this view comes from a misconception about what chivalry actually means in this day and age. I feel really strongly that you can never just transplant yourself into a different time or place and say that you know how you’d feel or react, and so I’m definitely not making arguments about your Granny and “the good old days when people had morals and men were gentlemen and bla bla bla…”. Simply chivalry as it manifests itself for young women in the 21st century. So it’s true that ‘chivalry’ comes from the French word ‘chevalier‘ meaning knight, and it definitely conjures up images of horsemen and damsels in distress – but one of the main arguments against chivalry

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is that it’s a remnant of an older and more sexist

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time, so let’s not make it credible again by updating its name.

But fair enough, chats about language can be fairly abstract – so does chivalry still exist nowadays in the real world? I think the argument that it doesn’t ignores the suggestion that language and concepts evolve over time and we’re not talking about knights on white horses fighting dragons anymore (although if

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chivalry was still as cool as that then maybe I could get on board). Chivalry as I see it is not just when a man holds a door open or your boyfriend carries something heavy. I’ve rarely found myself personally offended by chivalry despite having many doors held open for me in my time, and that’s because the men holding said doors were doing the same for other women, children and men, and therefore not expecting any return from their action. That’s what marks chivalry aside from general good manners. I can’t lie, I’m a bit of a manners nazi and there’s nothing that riles me more than bad manners; if a man slammed a door in my face, I’d be furious. But I’d be equally furious if he ran ahead of me to sweep it open in a grandiose gesture to save my dainty little hands from – god forbid – pushing it open. Chivalry isn’t manners because it expects something in return and therefore reinforces male control of a situation. You can say chivalry’s dead but I’m willing to bet that a large percentage of the men out there would find their masculinity bruised if a woman pulled out a chair for them or bought them a drink in a bar.

Buying a drink is a perfect example of how chivalry has evolved as times have. I can’t be sure, what with being born in the 90s an all that, but I’m guessng there weren’t many one night stands in the 12th century – chainmail would be a bit of a pest to get off, for one thing – so there wasn’t the same motivation for men to shower women with drinks all night. There were no boardrooms, let alone women in them, so no “saving the budget meeting until later so that the ladies don’t get bored”. And I’d imagine that men were too busy galloping around or sharpening their swords to even talk to womenfolk, let alone censor their conversation because there were ladies present. It’s a shame that the conflation between chivalry and manners means women are often looked down on for wanting an extravagant wedding, or enjoying pretending to be a princess when a waiter in a fancy restaurant pulls a chair out for them. It’s the subtle nuances that mark chivalry apart from manners, and that make some instances of chivalry more offensive than others – in a serious relationship you might expect a man to treat you like a princess now and again but in that situation you both know where you stand, you’ve already got what you want and he’s showing you he appreciates you. It’s not so cool when you feel uncomfortable about accepting extravagant gifts from near strangers or when you’re made to feel like you can’t just go

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home at the end of a date because someone has pulled out all the stops and just paid for your dinner.

But my biggest problem with the suggestion that chivalry is irrelevant and out-of-date goes wider than just chivalry into bigger ideas of feminism and just how to treat people generally. Fundamentally, I think that if something is a problem for even a tiny number of people, then it’s a problem. Not experiencing something yourself doesn’t make it non-existent or not worthy of your time, otherwise we might as well not bother about wars or hurricanes or third world poverty. Suggesting that something simply isn’t a problem for women anymore is to suggest that women are something other than a heterogeneous group of people with opposing thoughts, backgrounds and opinions, which is a slippery slope in my book. I don’t feel personally offended by chivalry on a regular basis, and maybe there are other ‘women’s issues’ that are more relevant to me right now as a 20 year old student in Edinburgh. But maybe if I was 20 years older, or a dress size smaller, or a few inches taller, or living 50 miles away, or in any kind of different situation at all, it might be a mssive problem for me. It might be the biggest problem I face as a woman. And that is not irrelevant.

The F-Word: Language


As ever, massive thank yous have to go to Ellie Robert and Christina Muller for talking so eloquently about language (meta) and the ways in which it affects attitudes towards women on this week's F-Word. Both did an excellent job but, as always, this blog will be my own take on the issue.

I think we're all agreed that language is pretty handy. It's the way we comprehend the world, it's how we learn, how we teach, it's – arguably – what makes humans human. But enough of the philosophical musings, I hear you say; get to the feminist stuff.

So here's the problem. All the things that make language really cool are the same things that make it a powerful and potentially dangerous tool, especially in the case of 'marginalised' groups like women, ethnic minorities and the disabled amongst others. This all sounds quite academic and abstract but take a minute to stop and think. Have you ever called anyone a slut or been called a bitch? Babe? Even sweetheart? Then I'm talking to you.

Everything is context-dependent. I'll always be 'darling' to my nana and 'sweetheart' to my mum and there will always be couples who call each other 'babe', 'honey', and all number of other weird

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names because they're sickening and cheesy… just kidding. The point is that they're not strangers in the street leering at passers-by, or men casually infantilising women with words like 'girlie' and 'pet' precisely to be patronising, or even people you know 'jokingly' passing judgement on your one-night-stand. It's all about context. So to pre-empt what some of you are inevitably thinking; yes, men can and do get called slut. But not within the context of a history of institutional oppression – and more often than not they're actually called playboy or hero instead.

I'm not trying to say that women don't use the term themselves; we undoubtedly do. But that's exactly the point I'm making – these terms are ingrained, unchallenged and said without thinking because, sadly, so are some ideas about how women should behave. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can't think of a 'male' word comparable to slut or whore. If women are sexually liberated then they're entitled to go home with whoever they want as many times as they like as far as I'm concerned. I equally don't think most straight single men would be all that impressed if the entire female sex took a vow of celibacy in response to their 'disapproval' of promiscuity. So what's the point? I'm not convinced that users of the word themselves really know either but I would like to point them towards the wisdom of Christina Aguilera: “If you look back in history/It's a common double standard of society/The guy gets all the glory the more he can score/While the girl can do the same and yet you call her a whore”. In fact, maybe I should have just posted the entire lyrics to 'Can't Hold Us Down' in place of a blog this week…

But seriously, these are just words that, just like any other word, we hear, learn, adopt and use without thinking about it. And yet they reinforce the

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idea of shaming and blaming women for their sexuality, which can have very serious impacts indeed when it comes to issues of sexual assault, for example. The same can be said for the comparison between 'spinster' or 'old maid' and 'bachelor'.

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I, personally, would love a bachelor pad like the ones that are always depicted in Hollywood films and reality TV. But

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I'm not much of a fan of cats and I quite like to brush my hair now and again, so I think I'll avoid becoming a spinster thanks. See what I mean? These words that nobody thinks about perpetuate age-old ideas about the domestic duties of women and men; women without families are useless and demented, while men in the same position are in the prime of their lives, all silver-foxy and “only improving with age”.

That last quote comes from a Daily Mail article about George Clooney. The Daily Mail, I know, SIGH. But they are just such an amazing example of everything that's rubbish about the media that I'm actually kind of grateful to them. In the

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same paper, you'll find entire stories formulated around pictures of women taking their children to school or browsing pregnancy tests and engagement rings. Not specifically language-based I know, but its always clear whether the media is talking about a woman or a man: “Helen ensures all eyes are on her as she prepares to enter the jungle” and “Lauren gets it wrong with an unflattering dress” while men (who are notably usually referred to by their last names only) are praised for their “soaring rhetoric” and “decision” to spend time

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with their families. The media has a huge role in the reinforcing of language and the attitudes that come with it. But it gets even worse than that, because so too do official forms and apparently gender-neutral paperwork through the various categories describing women – Miss, Mrs, Ms – in comparison to plain old Mr. It's not a coincidence that each female title relates directly to a marital status, and it's equally unsurprising that those who adopt 'Ms' are often seen as trying to 'make a statement'. French women this year did make a statement – a pretty massive one – when they

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successfully campaigned for the removal of the categories 'maiden name' and 'mademoiselle' from official paperwork owing to its origin in the French word for virginity.

Now I'm not claiming that every time I fill out a form, I'm huffing and puffing and rolling my eyes about having to tick a box – I don't really ever think about it, and I doubt a lot of you do either. I equally don't go through the paper angrily scrubbing out every other word and mentally composing complaint emails to editors. Because that's exactly the point really – language is so pervasive, subconscious and widespread that its affecting us all all the time without us realising it.

If I could wave my magic feminist wand and transform the dictionary then maybe I would. But the fact remains that language is just incomprehensibly permeating and mostly unchallenged. Whether it reinforces attitudes or forms them is a chicken vs egg argument, but it's actually kind of irrelevant. The important point is that the two are hugely interlinked, and this has effects in every aspect of life whether that's having a conversation, listening to a song, watching a comedy act or reading a paper. Maybe changing language really is the first step to changing attitudes, but how we even begin to go about that I have no idea. In the meantime I suggest that we quote Christina Aguilera to everyone and get working on those feminist magic wands.


The F-Word: Banter


Firstly I have to thank last night’s guests again for an excellent discussion – FemSoc’s Kirsty Haigh and our resident comedian Hitch did a great job of talking through ‘banter’ in its various forms and debating the different contexts in which it occurs. But as ever, I’ll be using this blog to voice my own thoughts on the issues of banter.

Banter is a strange word. Strange because it has come to be as much a phenomenon as it is a word, and strange because its a really confusing phenomenon at that. The Oxford English Dictionary defines banter as “the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks”. Yaaay! We all love being playful and friendly and exchanging teasing remarks right? How jolly. Except I can’t help but feel that the word has come to mean something different in recent years, and so I’m calling for a redefinition to “something that unfunny people say to get away with saying potentially offensive stuff”. Take note, Oxford English Dictionary.

I thought long and hard this week about how to approach the topic but funnily enough I found that that in itself told me all I needed to know. My deliberations all centred around the concern that arguing against banter would render me serious, boring and lacking in a sense of humour. And that’s where the problem lies. I love a good laugh as much as the next person, and I’m more than up for banter as it is described in its official dictionary definition, but as soon as its used as some kind of shield that stops people being confronted for racism, sexism and homophobia (amongst other offences) then I’m sorry, but I just can’t be on board anymore.

The dangerous thing is that ‘banter’ as we know it is so casual and everyday that its hugely difficult to confront. Standing up to it means setting yourself up for a barrage more of the stuff. I’m talking about the poor man who tried to complain about the LadBible website (“the biggest LAD community in the world” FYI) and was immediately told that he “obviously needed to get laid” only for hundreds of other men to laugh at him and shower the replier with praise for being such a topLAD LOL. The rest of the world’s men – the normal, nice, everyday men, the men who agree that LadBible is childish and derogatory – are not on these sites. And so banter remains its own little isolated, untouchable world that we can see into but can’t quite penetrate (and I get LADpoints for slipping ‘penetrate’ into a serious article. #topLAD).

For me, the idea that something can be this untouchable is massively scary. Some things shouldn’t be questioned: Beyonce is good, Jedward is bad. The teabag should always go in before the milk. But issues of sexism, racism and homophobia? These are not milk, teabags or Jedward, and they are certainly not Beyonce. They are issues affecting people’s lives every single day, everywhere. And that can’t go unquestioned.

Banter isn’t harmless fun without any consequences. Banter is Andy Gray saying women don’t know the offside rule, immediately dismissing the years of training, dedication and commitment of sporting women everywhere with one stupid sentence. It’s Russell Brand describing lewd sexual encounters to someone’s grandad, reinforcing the idea that sex is for men to brag about and women to be ashamed of. It’s LadBible describing women as “wenches” to be “bedded and added to their current lifetime tally”…

I’ll let you digest that again: It’s LadBible describing women as “wenches” to be “bedded and added to their current lifetime tally”. That really happened. So did photo albums called ‘Cleavage Thursdays’, and a list of commandments including “Thou shall treat a wench with respect – when she is in the kitchen”.

UniLad’s ubiquitous use of the word ‘wench’ (yes, really) coupled with kitchen jokes brings home another scary truth as well; that banter is a new type of sexism that women of our generation are only experiencing now for the first time. And its a weird kind of backwards, twisted sexism where we’re being mocked for traditional female roles that our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers have been fighting against for the last hundred years. Nobody told them to “get back in the kitchen”, because they were still so busy trying to get the hell out of it. It’s a depressing idea that as women make more gains towards equality, men are forced to revert back to archaic examples of sexism like this. It’s what perpetuates the untouchable nature of banter; as soon as women achieve something new, we’re ‘brought back down a peg’ by men joking about something that we’ve been working towards FOREVER.

I hate to end this blog in quite such a negative way but I can’t help but be totally depressed by some of this so-called banter. Its derogatory, damaging and dangerously indestructible. Women have been paid less than men throughout history, so some brilliant ladies went to court and won compensation for all underpaid women over the last 6 years. The Sun’s Page 3 normalises the objectification of women, so 50,000 people who noticed got together and signed a petition about it. Women in the 1900s thought it was stupid that they couldn’t vote, so they chained themselves to railings and went on hunger strike until they were allowed to. Yet ‘banter’ remains largely unchallenged and certainly defended – and the sad thing is that its supporters aren’t ruthless employers, national newspaper editors or ancient political figures; they’re our friends, brothers, boyfriends and classmates.

So I’m sorry if this blog isn’t really all that funny. Must just be that I don’t have a sense of humour…

The F-Word: Women’s Magazines


Women’s magazines. What a broad and far-reaching topic. My guests last night, FreshAir’s Head of News Elyse Jamieson and Edinburgh Labour Students Chair Anya O’Shea, did a fantastic job of talking through some of the reasons why these publications can be problematic for women in the 21st century, but I’ll be using these weekly blog posts to get across some of my own views on the issues raised in the previous night’s show.

My own relationship with women’s magazines is a complex one, and to be honest I’ve always struggled with feminists who direct their criticisms solely at these magazines – partly because I thought there were bigger battles to fight and partly because I still think that being a feminist by it’s very nature means I should be able to read whatever the hell I like, thank you very much. But I’ve grown older, and allegedly more mature, and I do find myself questioning the content of these magazines more and more as I stroke my chin and gaze out of the window, pondering the big questions…

Not really. But every now and again I’ll read something that will make me stop and think ‘what?’, and that’s exactly why I chose this topic for the very first episode of the F-Word.

I remember being 12 and tricking my dad into letting me buy Sugar magazine by telling him that my mum said it was okay (I think she’d want it on record that she definitely didn’t). I’ll never forget the front page of that magazine, now out of print but at this time aimed at 14-18 year olds – “I WAS FORCED INTO PROSTITUTION BY MY OWN BOYFRIEND”, next to a picture of a 15 year-old child primped and preened into a glossy cover girl, smiling and flashing her sparkly lipgloss underneath the horrific headline. I had to ask my dad what prostitution meant, and after much umm-ing and aah-ing, he diplomatically explained that it was “when a person sold their body”. Aged 12, this conjured up terrifying images of people chopping off arms and legs, trading kidneys and browsing through potential new eye colours, but I accepted his definition with a nod and never asked again. I tell this story to illustrate the ease of access that pre-pubescent girls have to this type of content and that, even worse, it’s actually targetted at them in the first place. That’s scary, and I haven’t even touched on the issues of body image, sex, or the reinforcing of institutional sexism through these magazines. There isn’t time here to go into all that but, basically, IT’S BAD. And this little anecdote shows just how early women are introduced to this potentially very damaging world of female media, and how it’s very possible that we consume without even realising the often horrific implications of what we’re reading on our own identity and sense-of-self.

Fast-forward 5 or 6 years in the life of a woman, and you find her confronted by an array of glossy magazines promising to make her sexier, better in bed, fitter, healthier, sparklier and “more glowing” – notably never just happier or ‘actually not anything -er because I’m quite happy the way I am, thanks’. My main problem with these magazines – and it’s a big one – is that these attempts to actively promote female empowerment are done in such a way that they manage to simultaneously be blatantly sexist. Quite the feat, really.

Take More magazine. During this summer’s Olympics, they did the honourable thing and dedicated a 4 page spread to some of Team GB’s ‘golden girls’. Great, you might think – but don’t celebrate just yet, because the feature title read: “Behind every golden girl is a great man supporting her”.


This title, emblazoned above pictures of Jessica Ennis hugging her fiancee and Victoria Pendleton on a romantic stroll in the park, does nothing for women’s liberation. I’d go as far as to say that it’s detrimental to the cause. Where are the pictures of Ennis willing herself through the final lap with determination in her eyes? Where is Pendleton on the podium, celebrating the reward for years of hard work and dedication? According to More, these women are not interesting until OMG! They totes have this season’s latest accessory; a super-hot, protective and strong boyfriend. SO. CUTE.

I didn’t think it was possible for sexism to be any less palatable, but if it is then it must be when packaged in a way that claims to be celebrating women. It’s sexism alright, but its coated in sugar, flowers and sequins – because otherwise it wouldn’t be inkeeping with the latest SS12 fashion week collections. Obviously.

Cosmopolitan is even more explicit in this sense, actively promoting a campaign – incidentally also called the F-Word – to celebrate the use of the word ‘feminism’ and encourage women to identify themselves accordingly.

But wait a minute. Isn’t this the same magazine that runs a regular feature called ‘Men vs Fashion’, asking a panel of (inevitably white, twenty-something and suitably attractive) men to discuss the outfits of female celebrities, many of whom feature in pictures that were taken while they nipped to Tesco for toilet roll, or took their children to school? These women are definitely not dressing for men, and the suggestion that they are – or that they ever should – is explicitly offensive. Coupled with Cosmo’s ‘Men On…’ column, fascination with “please your man” sex tips and their current ‘Bag A Boy’ article – “Why can’t you seem to get a boyfriend? Could you be coming across as desperate? Here’s how to get that ‘I need you’ tattoo permanently removed from your forehead” – there seems to be some decidedly mixed messages going on.

This topic is far too big and broad for me to ever be able to get all my thoughts across, which is a shame. But that also says something in itself – the influence of these numerous magazines shouldn’t be underestimated, and nor should their complex relationship with the contemporary young women they are targetting. I’m not adverse to gender-exclusive magazines and I like the idea of an empowered female community of readers – I’m just not convinced that it’s possible right now, with magazines being as they are; all feminist and proud one minute, all “male writer Joe Mott talks about the biggest mistakes girls can make when they’re out on the pull” the next. It seems to me that the female magazine industry is in the midst of an identity crisis. Poor them. But I’d feel a lot sorrier if they weren’t leaving large percentages of young women in the same position as a result.