Women's magazines suddenly desperate for feminist cred

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Have you ever daydreamed about, one day, feminism becoming the hot trend du jour? Did you imagine young people busily snapping up the collected works of Paglia, Faludi and Davis then discussing them over iced teas (or whatever it is that young people do these days) in a vision of post-patriarchal utopia?

You may be in luck (though you’ll have to buy your own iced tea): it looks like the hottest thing in publishing this spring is to install a feminist blogger as a columnist in your glossy magazine.

That’s the word from The Wire’s Allie Jones, who has noticed a veritable flood of feminists joining the ranks at many of America’s biggest glossies.

In a report amusingly titled Hot Spring Trend: Hiring a Feminist Blogger at Your Women's Magazine, she writes, “feminist writers Rebecca Traister and Amanda Fortini will be joining Elle as contributing editors. Last month,Cosmopolitan hired longtime Feministing blogger Jill Filipovic to cover politics on the website. It seems the hot trend this season is political awareness.”

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Ladies, that means we’ve finally made it. I had always dreamed that I would become a trend, though to be honest it was always more in the “anxious ladies who like to eat buttered bread with salt on it are suddenly the hot ticket” kinda vein. Beggars can’t be choosers, though, and “feminist columnists in glossy magazines” has a nicer ring to it anyway.

As Jones notes, there’s already been a precedent set: ex-Jezebel staffer Anna Breslaw is Cosmo’s online sex and relationships editor. Her appointment has seen the brand move away from its tried (tired?) and true “sex tips to blow your mind” towards a more enlightened approach.

While Cosmo editor in chief Joanna Coles has pushed the magazine in a somewhat more feminist direction, for now Breslaw and Filipovic’s work will remain solely in the online realm; only Elle has made the jump to expressly feminist commentary in print.

Of Traister and Fortini’s appointment, editor-in-chief Robbie Myers said, “They were both strong voices in the cultural conversation that erupted surrounding sexism during the 2008 presidential election, and their work continues to push the feminist reawakening we are experiencing in this country forward. I think the next few years are going to be a groundbreaking time for women in our culture, and in politics in particular, so I’m excited to have Rebecca and Amanda on board to interpret that for our readers.”

Lately, Fortini has profiled spiritual guru Marianne Williamson’s running for Congress in Los Angeles; of the attacks on Williamson’s campaign, Fortini writes, “the criticism echoes the usual charges leveled at powerful women: that they’re rigid, controlling, unqualified, rapaciously ambitious.”

It’s encouraging that these brands are striving for a more enlightened approach to gender politics.

Locally things are changing here too, Marie Claire has long run pieces from a feminist perspective (indeed, I’ve written some of them), as has Elle (likewise) and Harper’s Bazaar (Clementine Ford wrote about the politics of short hair last month).

In other words, if it is a trend to have a feminist writing for your glossy magazine, it’s one we hope is embraced the world over... now if we could just get some of that femmo action reflected on the front cover, hey?