Opinion: Women's magazines shouldn't just be about celebrities and fashion

Women's magazines should bolster their coverage of issues that affect women

Scrolling down the homepage of Cosmopolitan Magazine, one can find stories of the latest drama of the Kardashians and Woods scandal, that Noah Centineo is flirting with Lily Collins and what shows will be taken off Netflix this year. 

In both digital and print, women’s magazines are notably read across the country. The stories that fill these magazines and websites, however, mostly feature pieces about celebrities' new partners and the best sex positions to please your man — which play into many gender stereotypes surrounding women. 

Women's magazines and media outlets have seemingly struggled to find a balance between creating content that appeals to young women and "hard news" that impacts women's rights, their livelihoods and more. 

Instead of playing off of stereotypes of content that women like to read, these media outlets should add interactive and informative ways to educate women about issues that truly affect them. 

Cosmo magazine has one of the highest subscription numbers for a women’s magazine and college-aged people make up over 5 million readers.

While the magazine claims to be deeply feminist, it often only provides surface-level coverage of important topics like women's health or gender parity. 

Even more, the magazine rarely touches upon important intersectional themes of feminism, according to an article in The Atlantic

"The magazine preaches equal pay, access to birth control and sex-positivity, which are all important issues," the article said. "But it rarely touches on the race and class issues that necessarily intersect with gender issues."

In 2019, users have more freedom than ever to talk about issues on social media that are truly affecting women — especially young women who are trying to navigate the world with an ever-changing political sphere. 

With so many millennials becoming more concerned with politics, social and civil rights movements, it is important to continuously engage them with this informative brand of content. 

There was a time when magazines intended for women were run by men — giving readers a misogynistic opinion about how to be a good woman. In this day and age, society is more welcoming of media, like Ms. Magazine, that produce magazine issues focused solely on the empowerment and issues of women.  

Julia Wallace, a professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said that today's journalism targeted toward women is different.

“If you go back in time, and look at the women’s magazines from the 50s and 60s, it was all about the joy of being a homemaker and the art of baking cookies and a lot of that 'stay in the home and don’t try to leave the home' kind of approach,” Wallace said. “Today, we sort of have a bifurcated world of journalism, whether it’s online or print, aimed at women, that is sticking to them in different places.”

Magazines and other forms of media intended for women have the responsibility to engage their readers on important topics that truly affect them. 

While it may be hard to not put down the latest issue of Cosmo or a gossip magazine, it is at least important to read magazines and media that are founded with the mission to empower women.

Women can focus on stars' latest sexcapades and read about the latest change in reproductive rights at the same time. It is not a matter of giving one up, but instead trying to merge them together.

Reach the columnist at psaso@asu.edu and follow @paytonsaso on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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