A article went viral this week for all the right reasons. It was a searing, insightful op-ed by journalist Lauren Duca, titled ‘Donald Trump is gaslighting America’. In it, Lauren gracefully set out the argument that President-Elect Trump is using the same techniques of psychological manipulation and deception as an abusive spouse to control Americans. The piece says that he's lying so voraciously, they’re beginning to question their own sanity and the truth. It was an important piece of journalism by a bright young woman.
People – older white men, in particular – took to Twitter to express their shock that such an article had appeared on Teen Vogue, rather than something like the New York Times or the Washington Post. “Did not expect the exegesis of gaslighting and its relationship to current day politics from Teen Vogue,” said one. “Teen Vogue may be an unlikely source for a detailed look at “Gaslighting” + Donald Trump, but there you have it…” said another. The general sentiment was bemusement that women’s magazines might publish something bold, smart and authoritative on politics.
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You could say, looking at world events, that we’re entering a new era of political awareness for women. But that’s not true. Women’s magazines have been politically active and engaged in social issues for as long as they’ve existed. It’s an important, crucial and highly valued mandate. Women are complex, messy, intelligent creatures who will rabidly consume articles on the latest beauty trends as well as an essay on Brexit, for example, or how the American election will affect women in the UK (both of which Glamour has published in 2016).
When Glamour publish articles like that, there are inevitably met with a few snarky comments on Facebook – “I thought this was a fashion magazine” or “since when does Glamour do politics”. There is still, bafflingly, a lingering suspicion that women are not capable of caring about myriad social causes as well as fashion, beauty and sex.
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The editors of women’s magazines like Glamour know this to be brazenly false and curate magazines accordingly. That’s why in Glamour, you’ll find articles on mental health, domestic abuse, reproductive rights, sexism in sport, LGBT awareness, housing and employment, careers, money and politics.
Women want to read about real things that will affect them, and that’s exactly what they get.