Join 3,521 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


15 Women's Magazines That Don't Suck
April 16, 2012 10:16 AM   Subscribe

15 Women's Magazines That Don't Suck
posted by the young rope-rider (94 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite

 
Neat, I hadn't even heard of most of these.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:22 AM on April 16, 2012


Vag Magazine?
posted by parmanparman at 10:25 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Men's magazines that don't suck:
posted by Apropos of Something at 10:26 AM on April 16, 2012 [50 favorites]


I always feel like Bust gets too much credit. It's sort of the Zooey Deschanel of feminist magazines--I like it a lot but I feel uncomfortable about how pigtaily and put-a-bird-on-it it is, more girl than woman.

But then again, I wanted to relate to woman-things as a teenaged girl but wasn't quite ready for a ton of articles about navigating workplaces and childrearing and whatever, so maybe it's okay and I'm just not at all the demographic anymore. Maybe if I were 18 instead of 38 I'd be totally in love with Bust.

With two daughters who have been studying drums for a year each, I'm pretty excited about Tom Tom.
posted by padraigin at 10:29 AM on April 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Men's magazines that don't suck:
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:26 PM on April 16


Wish I could favourite that about a hundred times. I've never seen a so-called Men's Magazine that didn't make me think that "Men" must live on some entirely different planet from me. Or possibly in a zoo.
posted by Decani at 10:36 AM on April 16, 2012 [12 favorites]


As someone who never spent any academic time in (official voice) women's studies, Bitch was an awesome resource for developing a critical eye for feminism. It also became a lens through which I was able to view other, less-enlightened publications. After reading it for a few years I found myself able to read more mainstream pubs (the Conde Nast empire: Vogue, Glamour, Self, etc), taking the parts I liked (makeup tips! Fun clothes! Workout playlists!) but without letting them make me feel bad about myself.

I actually like Self better than Women's Health because of its cheery, happiness focus. But I really like Runners World better than any of 'em. Because I don't think this trope that I can Slim Down in 30 Days is true, but, shit, I can improve my mile time by combining speed work and tempo runs.
posted by purpleclover at 10:38 AM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I always feel like Bust gets too much credit. It's sort of the Zooey Deschanel of feminist magazines--I like it a lot but I feel uncomfortable about how pigtaily and put-a-bird-on-it it is, more girl than woman.

I would agree with that. I think it's been a slow slide to this point; I have some early issues from 1997-98 that feel much less glossy and twee. I still think it's better than 90% of women's magazines out there.
posted by sugarbomb at 10:39 AM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Having never actually opened it myself, I am nevertheless mildly surprised to hear that Women's Health doesn't suck.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:45 AM on April 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wish I could favourite that about a hundred times. I've never seen a so-called Men's Magazine that didn't make me think that "Men" must live on some entirely different planet from me. Or possibly in a zoo
All the other magazines are men's magazines.
posted by fullerine at 10:51 AM on April 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


(considering the men's version, "Men's Health"..)

I don't know what to make of half the magazines having a gay demographic.
posted by k5.user at 10:52 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I love this list -- especially the promise of music/arts coverage of Stuff Women Like that's not condescending (The Gentlewoman! I must have it!) Stuff women like doesn't need to be treated like a "guilty pleasure"! I was depressed reading a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly (the music issue with Adele on the cover) where their music editors were listing their most-loved artists and, like, none of them were women. It was all Beck and LCD Soundsystem. Don't get me wrong -- I like them too, but I tire of the idea that woman singers or writers are not serious and art created by men is Serious Art.

That said, EW usually does a pretty good job.

I hear you about Bust. Some of their weaknesses, I think, have to do with having a small staff. (Their fact-checking can be not awesome, for example.) And a small staff makes it easier to get stuck in put-a-bird-on-it ruts because you don't have a ton of voices contributing ideas. But, you know, those folks are fighting the good fight, so I'll keep my subscription.

And ... I'll go to the mat for (don't laugh) Glamour. It's run by smart women who are positive about the experience of being a (mid-20s, really) woman. Seriously.
posted by purpleclover at 10:55 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never seen a so-called Men's Magazine that didn't make me think that "Men" must live on some entirely different planet from me.

Esquire and GQ - while consistently advocating men's fashion both expensive and for many impractical - are both pretty good magazines. And then... uh... yeah.
posted by mightygodking at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


As long a we are saying "all other magazines are men's magazines" (they aren't) Here is the magazine rack candy that keeps me from studying:

My favorite "men's" magazine:

Make

My favorite "women's" magazine:

Craft

Note that I like 'em both, and lots of folks from all genders and gender preferences do.

They also both have "something that will drive him wild" in my case. They both encourage you do something interesting and be interested in what you do.
posted by poe at 10:59 AM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Esquire and GQ - while consistently advocating men's fashion both expensive and for many impractical - are both pretty good magazines. A

I've always pictured both mags as somewhat sleazy and very stereotypical, often obsessed by tits and ass. Naturally I thought I would google their covers to get a glimpse of their content and the first thing I get when searching for [Equire] is this:
Beautiful Women, Men's Fashion, Best Music, Drink Recipes - Esquire
www.esquire.com/ -
Guide for men who want to live a fuller, richer, more informed and rewarding life. Style, manners, money, culture, and cuisine.
GQ seems a bit better but the constant focus on sex and women and sex and woman is pretty sad.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:09 AM on April 16, 2012


I had to cancel my subscription to Bitch. I didn't enjoy reading it at all and I am a feminist.

My favorite magazine for men and women, which has sadly folded, was Trace. It's the most ethnically-diverse culture magazine I've seen.
posted by girlmightlive at 11:12 AM on April 16, 2012


>I always feel like Bust gets too much credit. It's sort of the Zooey Deschanel of feminist magazines--I like it a lot but I feel uncomfortable about how pigtaily and put-a-bird-on-it it is, more girl than woman.

>I would agree with that. I think it's been a slow slide to this point; I have some early issues from 1997-98 that feel much less glossy and twee. I still think it's better than 90% of women's magazines out there.


Agreed. I subscribed on the basis of what it was previously, and wanting to keep myself informed, but it's getting lighter and lighter. I wouldn't have renewed, but I missed the negative-option opt-out notice. Wasn't happy about that.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:12 AM on April 16, 2012


Hey, I was mentioned in passing favorably in one of these magazines once! I had no idea that meant I WAS SOMEBODY!

(Kyrademon waves to hordes of imaginary fans.)
posted by kyrademon at 11:16 AM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


On women's magazines: Women's Health? Really? Considering Men's Health is a piece of garbage, I'm surprised. I'm also surprised because I recall my fiancee cancelling her subscription about 18 months ago because she found it was becoming more-and-more focused on makeup and fashion and less-and-less on health and fitness.

On men's magazines: GQ isn't bad, but there's still a bit of a fratboy mentality. Eqsuire, while I sometimes appreciate their long-form articles and even a lot of the fashion spreads, the fact that they have a reoccurring feature that's something along the lines of "words that a Real Man™ should never use" is problematic and indicative of the type of man that they are targeting.
posted by asnider at 11:26 AM on April 16, 2012


Odd that that Women's Health made the cut with a dig at formulaic cover articles.
After getting a subscription from a well-meaning relative, we noticed that the cover ALWAYS has articles on the following: (a) sex, (b) money, (c) weight loss/improving looks, and (d) relaxation/calm.
posted by whatgorilla at 11:27 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey how about we don't make this thread about men..or their magazines??
posted by spicynuts at 11:29 AM on April 16, 2012 [30 favorites]


Hey guys, can we save the men's magazine discussion for a thread that's about men's magazines? Thanks!
posted by ocherdraco at 11:30 AM on April 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


*high five to spicynuts*
posted by ocherdraco at 11:31 AM on April 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


I always feel like Bust gets too much credit. It's sort of the Zooey Deschanel of feminist magazines--I like it a lot but I feel uncomfortable about how pigtaily and put-a-bird-on-it it is, more girl than woman.

I, too, agree with this, but I felt like I'd just aged out of their demographic. The first year or two that I was getting the magazine, I loved it. Then it just seemed like all their articles except crafting were for beginners, people who'd never lived alone, made a budget, taken care of a car on their own. I keep meaning to see if Bitch is better for a grown-up woman, and then I never do.
posted by gladly at 11:35 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh gosh, yes, Frankie. Yes to Frankie. I can't justify $115 for it, though.
posted by troika at 11:37 AM on April 16, 2012


Not a woman, but my mom was and women with children might be interested in Brain Child, the magazine for thinking mothers
posted by shothotbot at 11:41 AM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


i used to get ms. all the time. i loved it. it had a lot to say to a budding feminist. and then i saw an article that made me put it down and never pick it up again - it was all about why women shouldn't vote - something about the system lacking equality so women should opt out. sure, feminism is a big tent and there are lots of competing ideas - but i just couldn't support a magazine that encouraged women to just not use one of our hardest fought for rights.
posted by nadawi at 11:43 AM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


also: RIP jane and sassy. i've tried to get into xoJane but it seems a little too jezebel inspired or something.
posted by nadawi at 11:45 AM on April 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I stopped reading Bust a while ago, too. The whole crafty, cupcake, sextoy thing was getting old for me, although there was good stuff too, it just wasn't enough to keep me around. It always made me feel like I didn't fit in with other feminists (even though there seem to be so few of us around anymore!) because I don't compete in roller derby and knit all my own legwarmers and crap. I'm still holding out for a grown-up Sassy, something fun, honest, inclusive, not terribly cutesy, ready to take the piss, and not preying on my insecurities. Jane most certainly was not it, sad to say.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:50 AM on April 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


I keep meaning to see if Bitch is better for a grown-up woman, and then I never do.
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:51 AM on April 16, 2012


i'll agree that jane got bad towards the end, but i thought it started strong.
posted by nadawi at 11:51 AM on April 16, 2012


Glamour is also surprisingly unsucky. They've made a deliberate effort to include a wider variety of body types than most women's magazines, and their sex advice columns--at least the ones I've seen in the issues I flip through while I'm waiting for my nails to dry--actually have accurate information and good advice, as opposed to the standard sex negative, body-shaming, and "please your man by touching him on the penis [NSFW audio] in various ways" you get from everyone else.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:51 AM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I keep meaning to see if Bitch is better for a grown-up woman, and then I never do.

I actually really like Bitch but it's not a general interest women's magazine like Bust, etc. It's more of a semi-scholarly discussion of feminism in the media (more fun than it sounds!).
posted by Jess the Mess at 11:53 AM on April 16, 2012


Ah, yeah, Bitch is pretty ... academic. It's very meta, about the discussion. There are no take-action tips for living a better life or anything. The tagline -- a feminist response to pop culture -- is what they do.
posted by purpleclover at 11:55 AM on April 16, 2012


I like to balance Bust with Bitch and I am not a twenty something by a long stretch. I buy them for my daughters , then I can read them without guilt.
MS was so much more interesting to me in my younger years-I don't think I have picked one up in ten years.
posted by Isadorady at 12:01 PM on April 16, 2012


Heh. I only read one "women's magazine," and through the whole list, I kept going, "Where is it, where is it? They didn't forget it?"

Nope. Bitch is awesome fun. I used it for my close-reads in magazine writing classes, though I'm a little bummed that they never accepted any of my pitches. (Still, it's never like not getting bought by a music mag, which tend to be full of crappy journalism and make you say, "Man, really? The Strokes again?")

And Bitch usually has some pretty great reviews and hat tips, stuff that I'd never find if I didn't read it.
posted by klangklangston at 12:04 PM on April 16, 2012


Somehow I had thought that women were interested in politics, govt., science, ideas--as they all in one or another way play a role in the lives of men and women...here we have a list that caters to women who are focused upon themselves.
posted by Postroad at 12:10 PM on April 16, 2012


Yes, because women never participate in politics, government, science, ideas, so a magazine focused on women clearly couldn't include any coverage of those subjects.
posted by klangklangston at 12:20 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


15 Women's Magazines That Don't Suck

If Conde Nast has taught me anything by buying and destroying Women's Sports and Fitness, it's that "...yet" should be on the end of that.

ALWAYS has articles on the following: (a) sex, (b) money, (c) weight loss/improving looks, and (d) relaxation/calm.

My take on this used to be describing articles like "Fat? How to hate yourself!!!", "Why his failing libido is ALL YOUR FAULT", and "How people who aren't losers juggle a fortune five hundred career with perfect parenting."

Not that I'm the target for these magazines, but I have a passing interest as someone who wants the women in his life to have self-esteem.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:22 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


If I had to pick the men's magazines that suck least I think I'd go with audiophile or soldier of fortune, but that's not even up to the level of damning with faint praise.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:24 PM on April 16, 2012


nadawi: "... but i just couldn't support a magazine that encouraged women to just not use one of our hardest fought for rights."

I know what you mean ... a long-running magazine is certain to have some strange articles every now and again, but sometimes you come across one that just makes you chuck the whole thing. The last issus of Off Our Backs that I ever read was, in its entirety, a hateful rant against transsexuals that basically accused transmen of being traitors to lesbianism by robbing the world of the butches, and transwomen of being stealth doublt agents secretly attempting to trick lesbians into sleeping with men. WTF?

Postroad: "Somehow I had thought that women were interested in politics, govt., science, ideas ..."

Which is why ... many of the listed magazines ... cover those issues, right?

What are you talking about?
posted by kyrademon at 12:26 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Somehow I had thought that women were interested in politics, govt., science, ideas--as they all in one or another way play a role in the lives of men and women...here we have a list that caters to women who are focused upon themselves.

Huh? Where did you get the idea that politics, government, science, and ideas are not covered in these magazines?
posted by ocherdraco at 12:28 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've never seen a so-called Men's Magazine that didn't make me think that "Men" must live on some entirely different planet from me. Or possibly in a zoo.

I feel the same way about mainstream women's magazines. If you were an alien reading them you'd think women were one step up from crustacea in terms of intelligence.

All gendered magazines seem to have idiocy built into them, as if they're talking to some crude, unexamined stereotype as if it's a real person.

I'm still looking for 'my' magazine. The closest I come is Viz. Oh, and I used to love the Modern Review.
posted by Summer at 12:28 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


purpleclover: " (the music issue with Adele on the cover) where their music editors were listing their most-loved artists and, like, none of them were women"

So, why was Adele on the cover?

And, yeah. I get the impression that a lot of these "mainstream magazines with a niche" have a lot of really great talent working for them that occasionally manifests itself in some staggeringly-good long-form pieces that somehow slip through the editorial process.

On the other hand, it seems like the editors at the helm of these magazines are complete idiots, as evidenced by the headlines on the front cover. Do they not realize that they can produce journalism that doesn't talk down to their readers without turning themselves into The New Yorker?
posted by schmod at 12:35 PM on April 16, 2012


k5.user: "(considering the men's version, "Men's Health"..)

I don't know what to make of half the magazines having a gay demographic.
"

I know this is already derail-y enough, but I've always been morbidly curious if this was intentional or not.... If it is, they do a really good job of never acknowledging it.....

posted by schmod at 12:36 PM on April 16, 2012


Re: complaints of men's magazines like GQ, Esquire, and Men's Health having too much focus on sex. Once on a morning drive show I heard an editor for Men's Health interviewed. He was asked if there would ever be an issue that did not have a reference to sex or better abs on the cover. He said, "I know exactly what we'd call that issue: the worst-selling edition of Men's Health." You may deplore it but it sells magazines to the masses.
posted by Ber at 12:40 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Summer: " I feel the same way about mainstream women's magazines. If you were an alien reading them you'd think women were one step up from crustacea in terms of intelligence."

The average American only reads at a seventh or eighth grade level. To reach the widest audience, some magazines ride the mean. We know who they are: Women's Day. First for Women, Life & Style, Maxim, OK Magazine, etc. They don't condescend to their readers, but they don't challenge their intelligence, either.

In women's magazines, certain basic categories: fashion, beauty, sex and relationships and health always sell magazines and make their publisher money. For example, Cosmo reaches a little over 3 million people per month. Here's their editorial breakdown.
posted by zarq at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2012


They forgot Lilith.
posted by brujita at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Seriously, can the men's magazine's derail please, please, please end immediately?
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:49 PM on April 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


The average American only reads at a seventh or eighth grade level.

I know that most magazines (and newspapers) are written at about this level, but it didn't even dawn on me that it would be because that was the reading comprehension level of the average reader. I figured it was more because it's people are more likely to read your newspaper and/or magazine if they can consume it quickly and easily, not because they actually have difficulty reading at a high-school level.
posted by asnider at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2012


where their music editors were listing their most-loved artists and, like, none of them were women.

i was actually thinking about this last night when an old tori amos song popped up on my playlist - when i think of the female artists who are seemingly cut from a similar cloth, they never list her as an influence - maybe i'm just deaf to it or something, but it seems like she was a really big deal to baby feminists and then like, she's just something that happened? i mean, i still run into plenty of fans, and i've heard people from other artistic endeavors sing her praises (for instance, probably because the gaiman connection, she seems pretty influential to comic style artists).

then i thought further and realized that a lot of the current women i enjoy listening to either mention the old soul singers or the madonna area candy pop stars, but otherwise they basically all mention men. i never see bikini kill or ani difranco or L7 or joan jett or sinead o'connor or, hell, even the bangles. maybe it's just too soon? but, i mean, britney spears is already listed as an influence. i guess sometimes it feels like there was this whole big culture of tough, politically forward women that speak to a certain generation, but somehow how didn't imprint on the next (or there's some taboo about mentioning them where there isn't a taboo at mentioning, say, the pearl jam).
posted by nadawi at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know what to make of half the magazines having a gay demographic.


The source is Autostraddle, a popular site for women who like women
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:51 PM on April 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


asnider: " I know that most magazines (and newspapers) are written at about this level, but it didn't even dawn on me that it would be because that was the reading comprehension level of the average reader. I figured it was more because it's people are more likely to read your newspaper and/or magazine if they can consume it quickly and easily, not because they actually have difficulty reading at a high-school level."

It's likely a combination of factors which all terminate at :"Sells vs. Doesn't sell."

But yes, publishers do take literacy into account. When USA Today was launched in the early 80's, the publishers deliberately tried to design a newspaper that would have nationwide appeal and be readable by everyone. They specifically cited US literacy rates when they spoke about the design in interviews.
posted by zarq at 12:57 PM on April 16, 2012


So, why was Adele on the cover?

Probably because she's sold a million-billion records and won all the awards.

Okay, I just went back and found it. The thing I was reacting to was the answers to the question to staffers: What artists dominate your ipod?

Answers:
- LCD Soundsystem
- Notorious B.I.G. and the White Stripes
- LCD Soundsystem
- Wilco
- Beck
- Pavement
- The Avett Brothers

I think the thing that annoyed me is that it's a self-consciousness-inducing question if you're a writer/critic -- you don't want to seem like a snob, but you want to have solid-gold Good Taste. Thus, dudes-only.

Nadawi, yes, a million times. I wonder that too.
posted by purpleclover at 1:02 PM on April 16, 2012


well, the hilarious thing about that list is that it's all dad rock.
posted by nadawi at 1:08 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


then i thought further and realized that a lot of the current women i enjoy listening to either mention the old soul singers or the madonna area candy pop stars, but otherwise they basically all mention men. i never see bikini kill or ani difranco or L7 or joan jett or sinead o'connor or, hell, even the bangles. maybe it's just too soon?

Patti Smith, mebbe?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:10 PM on April 16, 2012


Hey how about we don't make this thread about men..or their magazines?

Hey guys, can we save the men's magazine discussion for a thread that's about men's magazines? Thanks!


No.

Don't get me wrong, I totally get where you're coming from re: 'but what about men' appearing in women's issue threads, but when something is presented as women's magazines suck amirite, there is an implication that men's magazines don't suck.

But they do suck. More. Especially for women. (Which is to say: Still your problem! Nothing usurped!)

All the other magazines are men's magazines.

Not cooking magazines. Not fashion magazines. Not interior design magazines. Not wedding magazines. Not parenting magazines. Not celebrity gossip magazines. Because men don't eat, wear clothes, live indoors, get married, have children, or are People.

Men get the men's section (which would be more accurately described as the 13-year-old boys' section) and the music section (which, ditto).

There are plenty of gender-neutral publications. Most of the serious ones for grownups fit the bill. Pretty much everything else, though, is aimed at housewives, young teens, or, most commonly, housewives with IQs of young teens. That is a problem.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:13 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tom-Tom apparently counts on its subscribers not knowing math: single issue: $6, subscribe: $29 // four issues
posted by QuakerMel at 1:14 PM on April 16, 2012


zarq: In women's magazines, certain basic categories: fashion, beauty, sex and relationships and health always sell magazines and make their publisher money

To expand upon that idea, they're also easy to sell ads around. And that's the business model of a magazine: to send ad pages to your home and convince you to buy them on the newsstand. If you are trying to sell a widget to women, wouldn't you like it to run opposite one of these stories?
- Have hot, awesome sex!
- Look really beautiful!
- These women are great successes!
- Have a smokin' body!

Your widget (so the thinking goes) gets the halo of good feelings associated with the positive article. So creating that space for an ad is the primary business function of the magazine. Thus the limited variety of editorial subject matter.

Magazines don't make most of their money selling newsstand copies or subscriptions. They make money selling those slots for ads.
posted by purpleclover at 1:17 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Myslexia isn't just the best womens magazine for writers, its the best magazine for writers full.stop.

I stopped getting it a little while ago, but when I was writing, I loved it.
posted by zoo at 1:19 PM on April 16, 2012


I don't know, Sys Rq, the website the list is on is a queer girl/lesbian website. I don't think the specification of women's magazines is meant to indicate that women's magazines are worse than men's magazines, but rather that the audience of Autostraddle is much less likely to read men's magazines than the general population, as they are much less likely to be men. This context gets lost in translation when you read the article on Metafilter, where it's easier to read in the implication that they're calling out women's magazines specifically.
posted by verbyournouns at 1:19 PM on April 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


there is an implication that men's magazines don't suck.

nope! things can be aimed at women, written by women, and about women and not imply a single thing about men. i think a post on the history of the gay male identity as seen through men's fitness magazines would be an awesome post and would be a great place to deconstruct how that interplays with the SEXSEXSEX alpha hetero male slant of nearly all those magazines.

also, what a shitty dig at housewives. i'm a housewife and i had a 7th grade reading level in kindergarten.
posted by nadawi at 1:21 PM on April 16, 2012 [22 favorites]


Look, alls I'm saying is that magazines don't do gender well. It's not a Hers vs. His thing. It's the same problem.

(And it wasn't a dig at housewives. It was a dig at the publishing industry. Lots and lots and lots of magazines are aimed at housewives, and lots and lots of magazines are dumb as fuck, and these two things are not mutually exclusive.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:26 PM on April 16, 2012


Most of these look like garbage. Seriously, they've got the same cover focus as the shit ones parodied in the collage at the top. Lindsay Lohan on the "vote 2008" edition? Naked woman on the cover of the one that's "for women who write"? Body image tag lines on Women's Health?

They may not suck but I doubt they're very good. One doesn't *have* to read magazines, you know? I'm sure nothing would be better than most of these.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 1:46 PM on April 16, 2012


magazines don't do gender well

What do magazines do well, for that matter? Last time I paged through one it was 50% regular advertising, 30% advertising pretending to be content and 20% lobotomized summaries of last month's internets. Oh also horoscopes.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:47 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


My husband got me a few issues of Worn, a Canadian fashion magazine, for my birthday. They're really cool.

Also, if you've got a fashion obsessed pre-teen daughter I highly recommend Kiki Magazine. It's really great (and ad-free!)
posted by vespabelle at 1:53 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dr Dracator: " What do magazines do well, for that matter? Last time I paged through one it was 50% regular advertising, 30% advertising pretending to be content and 20% lobotomized summaries of last month's internets. Oh also horoscopes."

Journalism. Especially long-form journalism. And some investigative stories.
posted by zarq at 1:53 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some of the smartest international reporting I have read in the last ten years has been in the various Vogues, as has much of the best food writing and updates on medical research particularly relevant to cis women (breast cancer, ovarian cancer, new findings about menopause, etc.)

Without women's magazines, I would have been completely at a loss about all kinds of stuff after my mum died. I learned how to select feminine hygiene products from women's magazines, how to buy a bra that fit properly, how to care for my hair and skin, why it was important to go to the GYN, you name it.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:56 PM on April 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


Magazines tend to have the best arts interviews, as well.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:56 PM on April 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Journalism. Especially long-form journalism. And some investigative stories.

Absolutely. Print magazines are one of the few places where quality long-form journalism still exists. Unfortunately, it is often hidden away in the back pages of an otherwise mediocre publication. Like I mentioned upthread, GQ and Esquire -- for all of their problems -- still publish some really good long-form. I imagine that the same is true of many of the women's magazines being discussed in this thread.
posted by asnider at 1:58 PM on April 16, 2012


Add me to the list of people who think that Women's Health used to be a lot better than Men's Health, but that it has been aiming much "fluffier" lately and is less useful.

There's some decent health writing in O and Real Simple on occasion.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:58 PM on April 16, 2012


Sidhedevil: " There's some decent health writing in O and Real Simple on occasion."

Both of them have covered a number of my clients over the years. Their health departments are very thorough. Interestingly enough, so is Vogue.
posted by zarq at 2:01 PM on April 16, 2012


asnider: "Unfortunately, it is often hidden away in the back pages of an otherwise mediocre publication. Like I mentioned upthread, GQ and Esquire -- for all of their problems -- still publish some really good long-form. I imagine that the same is true of many of the women's magazines being discussed in this thread."

Marie Claire, Elle, Town and Country and Glamour make a concerted effort every once in a while. As Sidhedevil mentions, so do O and Real Simple.
posted by zarq at 2:03 PM on April 16, 2012


Without women's magazines, I would have been completely at a loss about all kinds of stuff

oh yeah, totally - that and judy blume. my mom was around, and my parents were generally open about sex type stuff, but being raised mormon, all the information had a particular slant that i quickly found to be suspect. my mom also had a hysterectomy when i was born. she only menstruated for about 6 years so she was a little lacking on the advice.

i needed those magazines, both good and bad, just to some different information. i quickly gravitated towards sassy and ms. and i'd spend hours in the new age/wicca/lgbt friendly store, reading off our backs and bust. hell, even the question/answer section of seventeen was a life saver it seemed. for all the faults of the magazine, i felt that section always pushed the idea that embarrassing shit happens to everyone, bodies can do some weird stuff, and you're not alone in that.
posted by nadawi at 2:17 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was this magazine that I really enjoyed which I found almost a decade ago. It was called simply Girl, it was aimed at a teen market, and they put out maybe four issues before it folded (overpriced example on eBay). It had fun fashion trends (but kind of funky fashion, not quite your usual clothes and products) that were actually affordable, honest and liberal-minded life advice that wasn't condescending, and models who were diverse in both ethnicity and size. It managed to be fairly mainstream and light, breezy reading while mostly subverting the usual lady-mag crap. And it didn't give off a cooler or edgier-than-you vibe, which is something I find irritating about a lot of not-mainstream offerings.

It's my holy grail of girlie magazine reading. I have wished for years something would come out that scratches just that particular niche, but I've never seen its like. It kind of makes me sad to think that there might not be a market for a print magazine like that to make it worth producing - because sometimes I just want to read something while I take a bath that doesn't require too much brain, but I want to not be actively offended by it either.
posted by flex at 2:19 PM on April 16, 2012


Tom-Tom apparently counts on its subscribers not knowing math: single issue: $6, subscribe: $29 // four issues

Several of the featured magazines (the gentlewoman, Tom Tom, Ms.) are like that which is weird. Sure you need to pay for mailing but you don't need to cut the retailer in on the action.
posted by Mitheral at 2:31 PM on April 16, 2012


I agree about the writing in Vogue. It can be great, with great reporting and everything. And good book reviews, in addition to being the editorial home of the great Jeffery Steingarten. I have a hard time with its relentless dismissal of nonthin women's bodies and its editorial position that lots of money is necessary to maintain yourself as a lady. But I'm also interested in fashion as a cultural form, and it's required reading for that.

I like O too, but don't love Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz, and find the positioning of Oprah as a cult figure slightly uncomfortable (though I find her to be a voice for good usually, Jenny McCarthy aside). But I'm concerned that the new editor, Susan Casey, likes woo-woo fake health science a bit too much.

And, yeah, when I was a teenager (in the mid-90s) Seventeen had the best sex / health info out there. I hope that's still true.
posted by purpleclover at 2:31 PM on April 16, 2012


Several of the featured magazines (the gentlewoman, Tom Tom, Ms.) are like that which is weird.

My guess is that there's probably a once-a-year Double Issue or Music Issue (with digital content!) or Arts Issue (with foldout poster!) or something that's pricier than the regular newsstand price, and the subscription factors that in.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:36 PM on April 16, 2012


magazines don't do gender well

People don't do gender well. And I don't mean People.
posted by Foosnark at 2:46 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read Bitch for a long time but eventually grew pretty tired of the overwrought Women's Studies analysis. That just be my own backlash against four years as a cultural studies-heavy Women's Studies major. Like others in this thread, I've outgrown BUST a bit, too now that I'm in my thirties, but that seems about right, given that the magazines they try to be an alternative to (Cosmo, Glamour, etc) are mostly aimed at 16-25 year-olds.


That said, EW usually does a pretty good job.

I've always thought EW was one of the most stealth-progressive magazines out there. Even back in the early 90s (when I started reading it as a preteen) they had articles about things like the portrayal of gays on TV. It's definitely on the fluffy side, but they've managed to avoid the race to the misogyny bottom (for instance, no body-snarking).

Also, I think a lot of the bigger lady blogs out there have really taken the place of women's magazines, ie Jezebel, XOJane and The Hairpin.
posted by lunasol at 2:52 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't get me wrong, I totally get where you're coming from re: 'but what about men' appearing in women's issue threads, but when something is presented as women's magazines suck amirite, there is an implication that men's magazines don't suck.

I'm absolutely 100% in the "If this is a thread about women's issue the equivalent issue for men is not the subject up for debate" camp. It's really obnoxious and the point isn't that men's magazines are great by comparison, the point is we're not talking about men's magazines right now.
posted by sonika at 3:19 PM on April 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


"All the other magazines are men's magazines."

As I missed this earlier, it is worth mentioning that the magazine-buying public is predominantly female. If you have a general interest magazine and you want it to be viable at all, you gotta get ladies to buy it.

Pretty much anything but pictorial porno has an audience that's majority women, but is written and edited predominantly by men. (Just like book publishing.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:31 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Folks, it's okay to not be interested in a drift in the topic, but this isn't askme and there's no firm requirement that the conversation follow narrowly on the subject, so maybe just participate in the conversation you're interested in and ignore the bits you're not and see if it goes okay? You know the drill if that's not sufficient for some reason. Thank you.]
posted by cortex at 3:41 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Vanity Fair?
posted by bq at 4:02 PM on April 16, 2012


Women's Health? Ugh.
posted by schroedinger at 4:04 PM on April 16, 2012


pretty much anything but pictorial porno has an audience that's majority women, but is written and edited predominantly by men. (Just like book publishing.)

This is definitely not true. Look at the masthead of any cooking, fashion, fitness, travel, general women's interest mag. They're all women. A lot of women on the business side too.
posted by purpleclover at 4:05 PM on April 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chatelaine magazine, which, growing up I thought of as "a boring thing my mom reads with recipes" turns out to have a fascinating history of feminist writing, and firsts for Canadian women's journalism.

Turns out there was radical politics mixed in with those cupcake recipes!.
posted by chapps at 5:54 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


also: RIP jane and sassy. i've tried to get into xoJane but it seems a little too jezebel inspired or something.

I loved Sassy, Jane was good at the start, but went downhill into typical women's magazine at the end. xoJane could be so much more than it is. They do seem to be moving away from the constant Cat controversy over there, which is a good thing. For awhile it was hard to read as it makes me sad that she is heading down such a bad path.

The average American only reads at a seventh or eighth grade level.

I was taught that you should keep written material for magazines, newspapers, etc., to a ninth grade level. While writing for the local paper, I do try to keep it to a high school comprehension level. It saddens me that we have to do that, but Americans are not as literate as we should be.
posted by SuzySmith at 8:00 PM on April 16, 2012


Diva's only good for finding a gay B&B in Scunthorpe. As a baby queer I really wanted to like it, but it's way too heavy on the advertising, and the writing is pretty assimilationist. It's not for mental stimulation! That said it's fun to smile sweetly at the alarmed homophobic old bloke in the newsagents while picking up what is essentially the lesbian Womens Institute Life.
posted by pickingupsticks at 8:36 PM on April 16, 2012


Did anyone else notice that list doesn't have 15 magazines? It has 14. Number 9 is missing. Maybe they hoped we wouldn't notice.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 11:10 PM on April 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Surprised Oh Comely isn't here. The Gentlewoman is a bit Shoreditch for me, but OC has articles about people walking across Britain and building coracles alongside fashion shoots. I don't buy women's magazines (unless Cross Stitcher counts) but I've been tempted to get a subscription. Though it's a bit Pinterest in terms of its aesthetic; lots of pigeon-toes in mary-janes if you see what I mean.

Bust and Bitch are annoyingly hard to get here since Borders closed. Same with Frankie. Vogue sometimes has interesting articles, but I'm the wrong shape and income bracket for 90% of the fashion in there and magazines that do cover high-street fashion are usually celebrity/diet obsessed (and by diet, I mean 'fat-shaming' and 'eating biscuits makes you worse than 97 Hitlers') and make me feel like I'm leaking braincells.

My OH reads PC Gamer and New Scientist. I've only known one man who did read men's magazines, to be honest, and he was very much an aspirational, clothes-horse kind of guy.


"Somehow I had thought that women were interested in politics, govt., science, ideas--as they all in one or another way play a role in the lives of men and women...here we have a list that caters to women who are focused upon themselves."


I've read this twice and I still don't know what you mean. That it's a bad thing to read about women's issues, decent bras or fitness, and by doing so you can't also be interested in ideas? Is this the old canard that people interested in style/make-up can't also be intellectual or curious?

Mind you, here we have two free magazines which are distributed on the tube - one aimed at women, the other at men. The men's one is funny, and while still catering to the idea that all men want to be James Bond, has articles about assassins, strange footballers and maverick directors; also sardonic picture captions for which I have a bit of a weakness. The women's one has articles about beauty and what-it's-like-to-be-a-woman-regarding-x-y-and-z. I much prefer the men's one.
posted by mippy at 3:07 AM on April 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


No sister 2 sister? No Essene?
posted by RedShrek at 4:04 AM on April 17, 2012


Mippy, I hear you about the content of those free magazines "Stylist" for women and "Shortlist" for men. I hate how the lady version doesn't cover music AT ALL (unless it's bloody Adele). Or movies, for that matter. And Stylist ALWAYS has a feature where an extremely rich and successful woman tells what she eats for breakfast every day and details exactly how she juggles caring for her family with her busy job. Successful men don't have to apologise for being successful by assuring the world that their kids are well-taken care of, and they sure as hell don't have to apologise for being attractive and in shape by explaining their diet. It's so infuriating.
posted by cilantro at 4:49 AM on April 17, 2012


Of those 'good' magazines, I'm basically most interested in the topics that would be far, far, FAR better covered by books.
Of the topics that are 'topical' (ie relevant to the day/time), I'm generally not interested, or are say - music. Far better listened to than read about?

In a world run by me, the magazines sitting at the local takeaway shop to peruse while waiting for my food, would be New Scientist and The Economist.
Going by the first two articles off of each website, http://stealthserver01.ece.stevens-tech.edu/validategender determines the Economist to be written in a slightly more female voice (60%-ish), and New Scientist slightly more male (60%-ish).

However, while being able to rationalise it that way, I secretly think excitedly of New Scientist as my stylish awesome girly-mag that I would place on my coffee table (if I had a coffee table).

Such beautiful covers! Hands down the prettiest magazine covers around!
Gossipy articles on sex! Amphibians with sexy sexual kidneys!
Pictorials of the Most photogenic phyto-plankton!
Interviews with scientists, but (usually!) not including what they eat for breakfast!

And, aside from 'oooh, look at this shiny topic' in depth articles (often with links to books), it's all stuff that is newly discovered about our world/universe, so I can see why it is magazine format, not book.

Sorry Bitch, sorry Bust, sorry Stylist, but New Scientist could take you in a fight.

And in an odd way, I think my brain was bringing up this digression because in a way, it was the most feminist magazine I could have been reading in my high school library, including Women's Health, so, thanks!
posted by Elysum at 8:03 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


nope! things can be aimed at women, written by women, and about women and not imply a single thing about men.

nadawi, thank you so much for saying this, because if the thread had been "15 Men's Magazines That Don't Suck," I can't imagine people retorting "well you just think women's magazines are all solid gold apparently." Keep being edgy though, dudes.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:37 AM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


« Older True Adventures in Better Homes...  |  John Lennon's "Imagine"... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments