Links for Sexy Feminists: America’s left lean, ’11 Qualities of the Perfect Woman,’ and more …

Is America moving left?: Yes!, says The New Yorker.

A teen girl speaks out for gender-neutral marketing: Easy-Bake Oven marketing excludes boys, she tells CNN. Especially in a world where most chefs are men!

Men’s Health’s ’11 Qualities of the Perfect Woman,’ ugh: Jezebel’s Lindy West rips it apart so we don’t have to. And, Lindy, we totally laughed at your jokes … Does that make us the perfect woman for you?

‘Bro-Choice’: Sarah Silverman lays out the case for men to fight for reproductive rights, via The Cut.

‘I Took Plan B’: One woman tells her morning-after-pill story on The Frisky.

Sexy Feminists Read: ‘Airbrushed Nation: The Lure & Loathing of Women’s Magazines’

We’re sometimes-proud, sometimes-guilty junkies of women’s magazines, so we couldn’t wait to get our hands on Jennifer Nelson’s new book Airbrushed Nation, in which she gives Glamour, Cosmo, et. al. a critical once-over. We talked to Nelson about the good, the bad, the unrealistic, and the terrifying behind the glossies that rule so many women’s lives.

What’s the most surprising thing you learned about women’s magazines in researching this book?

I’d have to say what was most surprising was how I hadn’t even noticed that every topic was approached from a “women aren’t good enough as is” mantra. All the articles from relationship pieces to sex tips to dieting, beauty, aging, even health and money stories are approached as though women need to fix something about themselves, or everything about themselves. This is very different than how men’s magazines approach their stories. There, they think men are just glorious as they are, and they simply offer up articles to inspire, inform, provide humor, or entertain them. Women’s magazines call their books “service,” which is supposed to mean that the stories provide advice and a take away for everything you read, but service has really become another word for makeover.

Why is it so important to look at what women’s magazines are doing? Does anyone take them seriously anyway?

Well, yes actually, that’s the problem—women are taking them seriously apparently. Research has found that after one to three minutes of paging through a chick slick, women feel worse about themselves than they already did. And that three quarters of the cover lines on these magazines provide at least one message about altering your body via beauty products, dieting, exercise or cosmetic surgery. That’s a lot of negative messaging women absorb for simply
browsing through the silky pages. Young women and girls seem to be most affected but that’s where it starts—when we’re young. No matter which magazine you read from Seventeen to Good Housekeeping, typically thought of for older women, the message is the same, the mantra that we’re not good enough and that every photo needs to be airbrushed is drilled into our psyche from the teen years and beyond.

[Read more...]

SF Talking Points: Magazines That Lower Our Self-Esteem, Florida's War On Women

Why People Keep Reading Magazines That Make Them Feel Bad About Themselves: A new study has shown that people aren’t necessarily just plain masochists because they’re drawn to beauty and fitness magazines with thinner/more muscular models on the cover. Indeed, in the experiment conducted by Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, associate professor of communication at Ohio State University, participants would only dwell on pictures of fit models if the content beside the pictures was comprised of tips on how to improve their own bodies. So not only do magazines pop our already pretty flaccid self-esteem balloons without remorse, they sneakily add insult to injury by suggesting that they hold, somewhere within their hundreds of glossy pages, the secrets to attaining that Hollywood bod on the cover — in 5 easy steps! When really, it’s impossible, because not only do they not know who they are promising “sexy sculpted legs in 10 minutes” to, the ideal body on the cover was photoshopped.

Speaking Of Photoshop, First Unretouched Makeup Ad Released: Make Up For Ever put together an ad with a super thin, pretty, blonde and unblemished model without taking the final step of perfecting perfection with Photoshop. They just used professional lighting, professional makeup artists, professional everything, and had an impossibly flawless-looking girl wear the makeup. Hooray? I hate to be skeptical of progress, even if the baby steps made were terribly small. And I suppose we can’t expect them to pull an average lady off the street and tell her to do her makeup herself with Make Up For Ever and then take a picture of it  (which would actually probably convince me to buy the product, though I don’t know about anyone else). But the “progress” we are getting doesn’t really feel like progress at all. As Jos over at Feministing writes, “In fact, pointing out the ad wasn’t retouched serves to make this unattainable idea of beauty seem more real.” And it seems more like a gimmick than something that Make Up For Ever is actually behind.

Florida’s Recent Anti-Woman Offenses: Republicans in the Sunshine State are trying to pass a record 18 bills that attack abortion rights — including, but not limited to, a requirement for women to have an ultrasound, that they must pay for themselves, before getting an abortion. Another bill proposes getting rid of federal funding for abortions except in cases that threaten the mother’s life. Tough luck for victims of incest or rape.

Also in Florida, a mailer was sent out reviling mayoral candidate Rose Ferlita for being “Unmarried. Unsure. Unelectable,” and describing her as “an unmarried woman with a suspect commitment to family values,” while her opponent is a “dedicated family man with two children.” Since when do spouses and children have anything to do with one’s abilities as a politician?! Julie at BUST sums it up: “The simple misogynistic logic being: woman with career goals = unmarried ballbreaker = lesbian = unfit for office.” I mean, who knows if Ferlita even is a lesbian? Maybe she just didn’t want to get married! (And if she is, I’d like to point to female, lesbian Prime Minister of Iceland Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir who is doing a pretty damn good job over there — much better than many of the “family men” around the world.) Strangely, Ferlita is a Republican candidate and the organization that sent out the mailer has been linked to Democratic candidate Scott Maddox; it seems that Democrats were trying to reach Republicans on their level by using the rhetoric they usually use against Democratic candidates. In other news, politics suck.

SF Talking Points: Why Female Authors Aren't Getting Reviewed

The Reason Behind The Male Domination Of The Book Review Pages: Ever since VIDA, a women’s literary organization, published these infographics, it has been widely questioned why reviews of books written by women occupy such a pathetically small fraction of space in top publications like Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, and The London Review of Books. But The New Republic looked into it, and found that it’s actually uniform with the number of books written by women at publishing houses, both big and indie. Ruth Franklin writes:

“Only one of the houses we investigated—the boutique Penguin imprint Riverhead—came close to parity, with 55 percent of its books by men and 45 percent by women. Random House came in second, with 37 percent by women. It was downhill from there, with three publishers scoring around 30 percent—Norton, Little Brown, and Harper—and the rest 25 percent and below, including the elite literary houses Knopf (23 percent) and FSG (21 percent). Harvard University Press, the sole academic press we considered, came in at just 15 percent.”

And the indie publishers did just as badly: Graywolf had the highest percentage at 25, while Dalkey came in at a pitiful 10%. So the real concern now is if books by female authors have not been getting published due to some intrinsic, and perhaps unconscious, partiality, or because we simply aren’t sending in as many manuscripts as men. [Read more...]

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