Gill does a great job discussing the very controversial topics of how gender in magazines is defined. She introduces the topic of contradiction versus coherence where she pulls out the illogical messages mainstream magazines send to their targeted audiences. These assorted messages are in magazines targeting teenagers, children, heterosexual women and men. She studies the magazine discourse with emphasizing on the political economy perspective in understanding magazines. She highlights the ideologies of romance, consumption, celebrity and boy watching, that teenage girls have consumed in the different magazines. One of the main contradicting messages teenage girls had to receive was to correctly display themselves as attractive, with keeping up with the hottest trends and knowing how to attract a boy while also receiving the message that being themselves was essential. The question in play is then, how can a girl be themselves when society has already defined who she should be?
Another controversial topic is sex. There are structuring discourses where magazines like Cosmo emphasize on how women must please their man and how women should get out of their comfort zone.
There is a perception that there is a feminist or post feminist discussion on sex relating to women needing to take charge of their sexually and being comfortable with their partner. With the example Gill mentions, Macdonald (1995) discusses an article in 19 and advises how women should give a perfect blow job although women do not enjoy giving oral sex, they should still perform because men enjoy it. And later states that sexual acts should be mutually enjoyable and women should not feel under pressure. All of these “juggling acts” lead targeted audiences on a wild goose hunt in attempt of defining their sex lives, interest and who they are as individuals.
There are great magazine companies that do not bring such contradiction to this genre. One of my favorites is Teen Voices.
“Teen Voices supports and educates teen girls to amplify their voices and create social change through media.” The magazine is based in Boston and I remember as a teenager reading Teen Voices with confidence. I felt empowered, inspired and excited to take on the world with my voice. Discussion of appearance, consumption and attracting boys were irrelevant. Teen Voices is great and should be in every teenager’s possession but reality is that it is not a mainstream magazine like Cosmo. How do feminist change this? Why is the media shaping our society? My voice, your voice and Teen Voices matter!