The Cosmopolitan Divide, part 25

In the late 1970s, says Gough-Yates, the discussion had moved from women’s magazines as tool of ideological mouthpiece to place of ideological “negotiation”.  That is, as feminism itself was on the rise, women’s magazines seemed to offer more articles on the topics addressed by feminists: gender inequality in all levels of society, be they in the family or workplace or political arenas.  The magazines would discuss these topics, but would offer practical solutions that were typically along the lines of individual responsibility, which I’d argue was part of a larger shift towards atomized morality (another story for another day).  In other words, and I’m reading between Gough-Yates’s lines here, is that the internal conflicts of women (should I obey my husband or fight for my rights–sorry for being reductive) were externalized.  Sure, the reader could get a chance to think about the issues she and her contemporaries faced, but someone else was limiting the conversation to simply what she could do alone. The discussion was externalized; thus the solution was as well.  Radical views–and solutions–were not addressed.  On the whole, said the feminist academic community at the time, women’s magazines “lack[ed] the substance needed to effect meaningful change in either wider society or the magazine genre itself.”  Except for Ms., though. Ms. was pretty great.

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