NOOOO!!!! We need more female representation… not less!!

“BOBBi publisher Abbis Mahmoud, whose premiere issue hit newsstands last week, bills his new publication as “the first complete lifestyle and fashion magazine” for Canadian women 17-34 – one whose differences from other such publications begins with the fact that its covers will always feature a man, the first being actor Matthew McConaughey.”

I can’t stand Matthew McConaughey, so already I’m biased for round one – but seriously can someone create a mainstream magazine for women that offers more than articles on how to decipher men, tips on how to look better and seemingly token articles on global issues… I sense a forumula here.

Granted, I am interested in all variations of these topics and on rainy days I enjoy browsing fashion ads, but for editorial I need a certain context that’s not so damn limiting. (Clearly fashion needs a good overhaul too, but that’s one Goliath I’m not touching in this lifetime.)

I truly have interests outside of sexing up the huz (shit, he’s the one who sexes me up. sorry, forgot…) and working on the headdress.

How about an article on what’s working in relationships? How about advice on getting over the notion that women are too old to try something new like painting or learning a trade or playing a sport or whatever!

We’re living longer than ever folks. 30 may seem old, but you may have 70+ years to go. In the right context, 30 doesn’t seem so old afterall. (And I’m not talking about the context where the lady who’s clearly 23 but dressed up to look 45 is devilishly delighted that her oil of olay caused some old fogey to mistake her for 28… puhleasssse)

Admittedly, I haven’t read the magazine yet (but I will), and when I do, I hope I’m wrong and pleasantly surprised to find depth and intrigue within its pages.

The launch of BOBBi and it’s decision to feature celebrity males EVERY issue reminds me of a story in a recent MS. In 2005 hundreds of observers in 76 countries did a gender analysis of 13,000 news stories as part of the third Global Media Monitoring Project. Whether reviewing TV, radio or newspaper stories, women accounted for less than 30% of eyewitnesses, subjects, experts and spokespeople. Less than 30%.

So it’s frustrasting when this imbalance is perpetuated so blatantly.

I used to work for a teen publication back in the day and I’d often bring up these issues. The publisher would look at me blankly and wistfully disagree, “It’s what the girls want.”

Funny though, in almost every focus group I participated in, the girls told me they wanted less glitterati and more substance.

I think the two issues were really: a) Wal-mart sat as the pub’s biggest advertiser and Wal-mart didn’t like any political editorial. What if empowered women chose to buy less cosmetics… it’s too scary to take the chance! Who knows what they’d buy then??!; b) it’s sexier, slicker and easier to sell the status quo to advertisers. Oh, and I’ll add a c) why not let the advertiser get in on the editorial too with allowing them to publish advertorial? Sneaky cool… and it saves the cost of acquiring the content.

(a side note on the Wal-Mart affair… the publisher was terrified to have me meet our rep because of my labret and often-punky hair. She actually used to get MANICURED before going to meet with him… because he liked ladies with nice hands. Can you say OMG? It was funny and sad because when I did finally meet the guy, we hit it off right away – he was from Louisiana and I had lived there so we had an instant conversation connection. )

Sources: MiC & Ms.

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2 Responses to “NOOOO!!!! We need more female representation… not less!!”

  1. Chris says:

    I cannot believe that you would promote yourself as being an advocate of women’s status and then condemn a magazine WITHOUT READING IT!! That is just ignorant.
    If you’d read it, you would have found articles on women’s issues around the world, a girls guide to playing poker, and many other great stories. This magazine is unique, and cool, and the fact that you passed judgement on it without reading it is just embarassing. Don’t judge a book (OR a magazine!) by the cover…

  2. lilydustbin says:

    Hi Chris, Indeed, I passed judgement without reading it. You are correct – and I admit this on my blog. My blog is a place to write about things I discover and react to. I passed judgement on both Bobbi’s decision to always feature a man on the cover and my initial thoughts on the headlines mixed in with some historical/anecdotal ideas. Perhaps when I wrote “can someone create a mainstream magazine for women that offers more than articles on how to decipher men, tips on how to look better and seemingly token articles on global issues,” it was unclear that I was referring to Bobbi’s cover stories.

    So, as promised I did read the first issue last week – cover to cover and will be writing about it soon.

    The magazine is certainly not unique or cool and it perpetuates female stereotypes through the usual channels by placing immense pressue on women to be beautiful, going as far to suggest the exclusion of women who are not.

    In a “Girl’s Guide To Motorcycles,” the writer indicates that the subject is “proof that smart, pretty women are as good…no…BETTER than most men behind the wheel.”

    I have to be pretty to ride a motorcycle as well as a man? That’s problematic in itself and then I have to ask, why do I care if I’m better than a man if I’m truly participating in the sport for me?

    My feminism includes men, it’s not a binary, either/or philosophy. I’m not interested in being continually compared to a man or being better than a man or adopting the behaviour of a man and calling it equality. I’m not looking for validation from men either. God, what boring pursuits. We’re all hurting in this hyper-capitalist state and we need to wake up soon.

    Again in the same article, a photo caption reads, “The Boss Hoss, 1300 pounds of brute force, being manhandled by the petite Miss Midcap.”

    Bobbi is reinforcing the importance of a thin body as a measure of a woman’s worth – as I said in my original post – the context is limiting. Bobbi says I have to be thin and pretty to manhandle a motorcycle. That’s the message I’m getting, plus the suggestion of sex and violence in the phrasing which I’ll think about some more and discuss at a later time.

    You may not agree with me, but if the advancement of the status of all women is truly a concern, these are the conversations I hope to keep having. We need to be aware that so much of what holds us back is learned and embedded in our structures so deeply that we don’t always see it.

    More to come… thanks for your comment Chris.