What's this I hear about "women's" magazines?

By Donna.

Ya know how they always tell ya not to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach? Well, I've got a cure for that -- check out the latest copy of American Woman magazine on the rack; guaranteed to turn your stomach so badly, you might not want food for WEEKS!

May egalitarian deities of all denominations forgive me, but I shelled out the money for this magazine.... because I wanted it here at home where I can more easily do a hatchet job for you here on this echo. Next time you hear someone asking, "If you women really want equality, what are all those women's magazines doing, telling us differently?" you just ask if they refer to something like American Woman. This rag is edited by women, and women's names dominate the masthead, but let's look at the *really* important information:

Publisher:                              Charles Goodman
Executive Vice President:               Robert T. Maiello
Vice President:                         John Damboragian
Creative Director:                      Irwin Linker
Director of Manufacturing & Production: Brian Kelly
Director of Finance & Administration:   Steve Silverstein
(It's published by GCR Publishing Group; does anybody know about these people? As in, what else does this group publish? Is it all trash?)

The cover promises us articles on: How to Keep Your Man DELIRIOUSLY Happy in Bed; Sex Appeal, Subtle Ways to Catch His Eye; Secrets of a Long (and LUSTFUL) Marriage; Career Changes for Women who'd Love to Travel (AND meet new men); Easy Exercises. And there's a very specially-colored box, down in the lower righthand corner of the cover, with "MARRYING FOR MONEY" in red ink.

Let's look at the contents, shall we? Numbers in brackets [x] denote how many pages of the article are devoted to lead-in picture(s).


Separating the (Marriage-Minded) Men From the Boys. 4 pages [1] [This one's complete with quiz, folks!]
Sweet Nothings Mean Everything in a Marriage. 4 pages [1]
Marrying a Man Who's Been Married Before. 3 pages [2/3]
How to Keep Your Man Happy in Bed. 2-1/3 pages [2/3]
Men Who Can't Get Close. 2-1/3 pages [1-1/3]
What to Do When He Walks. 1-2/3 pages [1/3]
Looking for Mr. Goldbar. 1 page [1/3]


Confessions of a (Former) Know-it-All. 2 pages [0]
Sticky Social Situations. 2 pages [2/3]
What Makes a Woman Sexy. 2 pages [2/3]


6 Ways to Earn Power, Prestige, Perks and a Promotion. 1-2/3 pages [0]
"My Job is Making Me Sick". 2-1/6 pages [1]
Careers for Women who Love to Travel. 3-1/3 pages [1/3]
Collectibles: What's Hot, What's Not. 2 pages [1/3]
10 Enterprising Ideas to Put You in Business...Today. 2 pages [2/3] [this 'article' is nothing more than 10 different ways of working out of your home, mostly in service businesses]
Getting Your Start-Up Started (When You're Cash Poor). 1-1/3 pages
Finding Your (Rich) Niche in the Business World. 1-2/3 pages [0]
It Pays to be a Salary Snoop. 1 page [0]


Lingerie to work and play in. 3 pages, nearly all pictures.

There is, of course, the obligatory section on beauty and personal fitness, including a diet and tips re: "Eating Your Way to Beautiful (Younger Looking) Skin". However, the above represents the bulk of the contents.

This magazine devotes 18-1/3 pages, in 7 articles, on relationships and man-getting. Same magazine spends only 14-1/6 pages on career- & money- related items, in 8 articles. Most of their artwork shows men and women in loving embraces. Hey, I think relationships are important, too, but why isn't a mag called American Woman spending just a little more time depicting women working outside of the home? Only 5% of all families fit the "traditional" Cleaver family description of the 50's, which tells me that there's a LOT of women out there working outside the home, but you couldn't really tell it from this rag. (I wonder if it's also significant that most of the career-related stuff is on newspaper-type paper, while everything else is on the glossy, magazine-type stuff.)

In addition, I've spent too many years being falsely accused of being a checkbook-hunter (simply because I'm a woman), that I'm OFFENDED by any rag which gives tips on how to find a rich husband!

There is practically *no* reference to children, either, although it's tough to imagine most American women without some connection to children. (Yes, some of us are childfree by choice, but we do seem to be in the minority -- regardless of what some anti-feminist people seem to think.) The only acknowledgements to children are: tips for cutting children's hair; mention of a book for keeping kids un-bored; picture (in the lingerie 'fashion' pages) of woman picking up toys while dressed in sexy underwear; a letter (Woman to Woman advice column) from a woman whose husband isn't interested in her sexually since she gave birth 6 months ago.

Oh, and in this 1-page "Health Tips" section, one of their mini-reports is about how caffeine consumption can affect fertility. The headline they gave to this report, however, reads "Can't Conceive? More Sex, Less Coffee". Why does this mini-headline NOT surprise me?

Well, they gave enough lip service to "equality for women" that some folks might really be fooled by this garbage. However, any magazine which tells me that part of "getting ahead in the world" is knowing how to create "benevolent sexual tension" (an "essential skill in any truly feminine woman's armory") tips me off that it AIN'T a magazine *for* women. After all, that "benevolent sexual tension" is the excuse a lot of guys give for the date rape phenomenon -- they just use smaller words for it, that's all.

Go Back to Shy David's Feminism Page.