Arts & Life, Music

SCREAMING ABOUT THINGS IN ALL CAPS: A feminist response to pop culture

Dear Magazines,

Can we please dispense with the Women Who Rock issues? Please?

For one thing, they’re STUPID. I can’t be the only one who is tired of your soft-ball interviews with smart, talented ladies that inevitably end up being about eyeliner application, babies and ‘Having It All.’ Frankly, I’m weary of your ‘articles’ in which for every one paragraph about, you know, actual music, there are seven more about the subject’s looks. (I’m on to your game, BTW. The less conventionally attractive, the more backhanded: I once read a feature about Karen O which referenced her ‘comedienne’s nose.’ WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?) Also: your horrific photo captions that blare damaging, what-is-this-the-’50s? sentiments such as MORE THAN JUST A PRETTY FACE!!!!! in 80-point font (hot pink, natch) make me want to punch someone in the face and barf. In that order.

Also: do you think you could be a little less surprised about the fact that women do, indeed, rock? I always get the sense that these features have an air of incredulousness. Did you learn nothing from the Riot Grrrl movement? For crying out loud, Magazines. Get your shit together. Just like women can, in fact, do math and be funny, they can also write their own songs and shred guitars without danger of breaking their fragile lady-arms. I KNOW! Crazy, right? It’s true. ASK ANYONE.

While you’re at it, can you also get rid of abominations such as Top 50 Sexiest Whatever lists? Because it’s not enough that our proud, vagina-owning musicians, comedians, writers, etc. are intelligent, talented, hard-working women — they must also be masturbation fodder as well! (BTW: ironic or no, Tina Fey bending over a typewriter is still Tina Fey bending over a typewriter. Stop making the ladiez bend over, Magazines. And would it kill you to allow them to put on some pants?)

I know, I know — people LOVE lists and they’re easy and they fill up space. As a mag editor myself, I totally get it. Here’s the thing, though: when we rank women in order of hotness, and frame all their accomplishments in relation to their hotness, it perpetuates the idea that a woman’s attractiveness is her single greatest currency. And that, to me, is dangerous. So not only do you have content that’s lazy and SO BORING, you also have content that’s actually minimizing women under the guise of celebrating them. “It’s awesome you have your own TV show! Now go put on this strategically unbuttoned men’s dress shirt and pout for the camera. Good girl.” I think that really sucks.

And yes, I know: you do Top 50 Sexy lists featuring guys, too — interesting, though, how you seem to let them wear pants and are generally less amazed by the fact that they are brainy and hunky. That shit’s just implied. And even if said men are not conventionally attractive, they still get to be included because they’re so smart and awesome and stuff! Meanwhile, if a woman is kinda old or fat, she’s not even a consideration. Or if she is, she’s “embracing her curves.” The body must always, always, always be the focus.

I know I’m throwing a lot at you, Magazines. Sometimes it’s helpful to flip the issue! With that in mind, I’d like to present this truly excellent bit of satire from Seattle’s alt weekly The Stranger. Read it, absorb it and then really chew on it. Why is it so funny to see a Men Who Rock issue? Why are subheadlines such as Men Are Doing It For Themselves so hilarious? DO YOU GET IT NOW?

As a music journo, I laughed when I read the first question of one of the Q&As in this piece — ‘How did a handsome man like you get into music of all things?’ —  while I silently wept for humanity inside. Because these are the types of questions you subject women to ALL THE TIME. So stop it, already. Stop it right now. These aren’t My Size Rock Star Barbies playing pretend. They’re artists. Treat them as such.


Jen Zoratti is the music editor at Uptown Magazine. She’s honestly never asked a female musician when she’s thinking about having kids. Follow her on Twitter: @JenZoratti


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