By Lizl Morden
The idea of rating women’s magazines in terms of how feminist they are excited me greatly because after reading a few a couple of years ago I realised that they recycled the same women-hating nonsense every month. This is my chance to prove it! I compared the December 2013 issues of magazines with different focuses to look at the range of women’s magazines available.
The lower the score the more feminist it is. Magazines rated according to these categories and criteria. Summary of rating system: 1 (very good, feminist and empowering), 2 (could be better), 3 (anti-feminist, sexist, or disempowering). Categories: A) Images and photographs B) Content C) Weight loss and ‘health and fitness’ articles D) Sex articles E) Gender roles F) Violence against women.
Glamour: A2, B2, C1, D3, E3, F3. Total score:14 out of 18
A) 2 – This score is only because some of the photos were of women of colour. There is no body diversity and no age diversity – everyone looks young and thin. There are also not diverse activities represented in the photos. Cover model is white, international, thin.
B) 2 – There is one business-related article and another on financial well-being. There is nothing on women’s rights, sexual or reproductive health.
C) 1 – This issue has a good score because there is nothing about diets and there is an interview about getting fit and participating in sporting events. The preview for the January issue tells me that this number will increase next month as they will have an article on how to “kick extra kilos”.
D) 3 – There is an article about a threesome – written by a man! And therefore from a man’s point of view. There are “random facts” about guys; men are seen as (potential) significant others. Very heteronormative.
E) 3 – There is an article on ways to get men to open up, they are female celeb vox pops on their signature dish (men are conspicuous by their absence). The magazine is not focused on families but does have that “get and keep a man” orientation. In a Q&A section on how to get your husbands to become friends, one woman’s (or ‘comedienne’, a word I very strongly dislike) advice is: host a braai, let them bond outside and “ladies, stay inside and drink sangria”. Haha, women staying inside. My sides are splitting. The January preview promises articles on how to be the best hostess and the top 2014 relationship trends. Can anyone shed some light on this last one? What is a relationship trend and how can they be predicted since it isn’t 2014 yet?
F) 3 – There are no topical women-issues related articles. There is nothing on gender-based violence and also no victim blaming. However, there is some celeb-shaming/judgement in the DO/DON’T section. A photographic example of one of the fashion DON’Ts is dolls. Porcelain dolls wearing white shoes with lace socks. Yes, ladies, don’t look like the porcelain doll who have always been style icons we could look up to. Alas, no more, Glamour has declared it thus.
Destiny: A1, B1, C1, D2, E2, F2. Total score: 9.
A) 1 – The cover model is black, local, thin. There is a wide range of ages, body types, races and some diverse activities.
B) 1 – This is a business/career-focussed magazine and there are therefore many business articles. There is an article on educating women/girls and there are two info boxes on sexual health.
C) 1 – The few health-related articles have a more holistic approach: happiness, feeling good, being active to improve health, no particular body type or weight is mentioned. Although there are mentions of calorie-counting/awareness.
D) 2 – There is a focus on female pleasure and health. It is not specifically heterosexual only although the heterosexual couple is mentioned once and the two accompanying photos portray heterosexual attraction.
E) 2 – There is a lot of emphasis on business. Families are not really mentioned, but one interviewee is a single mother and another has a non-nuclear family. There is an article on different SUVs as part of encouraging readers to explore. However there is mention of the stereotypical “shopping spree”. There are articles about a female site engineer and female brewers. (women! beer!)
F) 2 – There is nothing on topical women’s issues, gender-based violence or victim blaming. Not empowering, but not disempowering either.
Marie Claire: A2, B2, C1, D1, E,1 F2. Total score: 9.
A) 2 – The cover model is white, international, thin. There is a diversity of races, bodies, ages and some variance in activities. This issue includes a watch special and a very strange accompanying shoot. Unless I don’t understand modelling/fashion. One photo is of a women with her posterior in focus, watch around her ankle and her face not in shot at all, which smacks of objectification to my unfashionable mind.
B) 2 – There are no articles on business or sexual/reproductive health. There is an article on the dangers of alcohol addiction, which unfortunately includes shaming photos of drunk celebrities. There is also an article on plastic surgery beauty pageants and another on other controversial pageants (holocaust survivors, landmine) highlighting the problems with such. MC does focus quite a bit on (women’s) bodies, deconstructing the stereotypes and expectations and has a regular feature on body politics.
C) 1 – There aren’t any health, diet or fitness articles.
D) 1 – There aren’t any in this issue and they don’t have this as a regular feature. This is one of the things I love about MC: many other magazines see heterosexual relationships as the ultimate goal in life.
E) 1 – There is nothing about being a family- or home-maker; neither is there anything about careers/business. There is a focus piece on a female hip hop artist, a short piece on cowgirls and another featuring young female skaters in Afghanistan. There is also a piece about a male beauty therapist and the prejudice he faces because he is a man in a ‘woman’s’ industry.
F) 2 – There are no long articles in this issue on topical women’s issues such gender-based violence (there was one in another issue this year) but there is small info box that mentions the issue of trafficking women.
This round’s winner: Marie Claire AND Destiny!
Would you like to rate your favourite, or not, magazine? Here are the criteria. Share your findings right over here.