You can have this and have political opinions.
For those who follow the feminist press closely, you probably already know this, but for those who don’t: Cosmopolitan has really been expanding its political coverage in recent months. Yes, that Cosmo, the one of goofy sex tips and manicure ideas. They hired friend-of-Pandagon Jill Filipovic as a senior political writer, and she’s been churning out hard-hitting coverage on abortion rights, military sexual assault, and the Ferguson protests. To anyone with a shred of concern about things like civic duty and a well-informed citizenship, this is great news. Men’s magazines and even music magazines like the Rolling Stone have great political writing living next to record reviews and fluffy articles on how to pick a bourbon, so why shouldn’t women’s magazines?
Well, you can guess that the folks at Fox News, however, are not thrilled, because Cosmo‘s young, female, and largely single readership is exactly the kind of category of Americans they don’t want voting. Just as conservatives frequently try to argue that it’s outrageous to reach out to people of color and try to activate them as voters by reminding them of issues that hit close to home, conservatives are worried that if women’s magazines start providing political coverage tailored to their audience’s concerns, those women will vote more frequently. And you know that they vote for, gasp, Democrats. Oh noes!
Hello? Oh, I’m sorry, I think you’ve stumbled into the wrong place. This is a piece about politics, and you’re on Cosmopolitan.com. Surely you were looking for something about shoes, or maybe information on how to find a boyfriend? If you’re a young woman, scoot along now, little lady, because all this talk about “issues” and “elections” is probably beyond the purview of what you’re looking for from Cosmopolitan.com. (Do you know what “purview” means? Don’t worry your pretty head about it).
Insulted yet? Well, that’s what folks at Fox News and a series of conservative commentators and websites seem to think about you. On Fox’sOutnumbered — a show so dedicated to serious and not-at-all-sexist political analysis that it bills itself as “Featuring an ensemble of four female panelists & #OneLuckyGuy” — panelists took turns complaining aboutCosmopolitan.com‘s decision to endorse pro-choice candidates, claiming (falsely) that Cosmopolitan.com will “probably leave out jobs and a whole bunch of other stuff that we ladies care about.” Putting aside the fact that Fox commentators have not always shown such a commitment to the interests of working women, our endorsement criteria are actually a little more detailed and include issues such as equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage, and leadership on ending violence against women.
Filipovic points out that you regularly see how “young female voters are derided, condescended to, and insulted” and that by putting more political information in Cosmo, they are pushing back against the idea that there’s something inherently contradictory about being interested in “female” things and being interested in politics. (You’d think that would have been settled when women got the vote, but the idea that voting is somehow unfeminine continues in many circles, like Fox News, apparently.) That’s why Fox isn’t all bent out of shape because GQ or Esquire offer political coverage, but somehow they think that having coverage of lipsticks next to political coverage is silly while having coverage of ties next to political coverage is just business.
Editor Amy Odell also defended Cosmo‘s right to treat its readers like smart, politically-minded people, even though some would think that’s inconsistent with the category “women”. But first, this offensive gif that she included, just to show how ludicrous all this is:
It’s interesting how conservative media has become so incredibly dependent on using female talking heads to push the idea that women are inherently less trustworthy, thoughtful, or politically astute as men. The contradiction doesn’t seem to bother anyone, but it really is weird at times.
The anchors frequently mentioned that Cosmopolitan.com writes about sex, as though this makes us — and our readers who enjoy our sex content — ill-equipped to discuss politics intelligently, but the most outrageous comment came from the sole man on the panel, Guy Benson:
“Is this beyond the purview of what the readership of this magazine actually wants to see? Do they want to be preached at about politics when they really just want to check out the latest fashions and these wonderful shoes you guys are all wearing?”
That’s right. None of you care about politics — you just want shoe pixxx!!!! Particularly of the shoes of his fellow anchors. (Which: no.) Guess he didn’t learn anything from the Beyoncé voters fiasco.
I realize there’s a belief in some right wing circles that women are simpletons whose wee brains cannot handle more than one topic in a lifetime, but that’s simply not true. I have strong opinions on the situation in Iraq and on shoes. I also know a lot about pop music, Game of Thrones, and how to play craps effectively. I have spent the past week or so listening to Rick Perlstein’s new biography of Ronald Reagan on Whispersync while I do my make-up. Shocking, I know. It’s totally possible. Think of it like how no one is surprised that a man can be a brilliant politician and also a football fan. See, easy? Just do that for women.
But, as noted, I don’t think the hosts of Fox News are actually so dumb they believe the stupid sexist stereotypes they’re peddling. I think they’re worried about this new trend where we treat women like we do men, by respecting them enough to assume they contain multitudes. Worried, because that will likely result in women voting more, demanding more respect at work, demanding more respect in the streets, demanding more respect in their relationships. That, I suspect, is the worry. And so they mock in a pathetic attempt to shame Cosmo into not treating its readers with respect. So I’m glad Cosmo is pushing back.