It's the summer of grifters, and a headline in liberal magazine The New Republic declared that “women’s media” is just another scam. The widely shared piece responded to a viral Refinery29 “Money Diary” about one of the many young women buzzing through New York on her parents’ dime and indulging in more than just avocado toast. Fists were shaking at the Money Diarist’s nauseatingly ignorant (yet, uh, transparent) display of class privilege, and many a Media Twitterer weighed in on the editorial decision to publish it.
The criticism that “Women’s media is a scam” seems hasty and clickbaity at best — but at worst, poorly defended, and in some sections, plainly inaccurate or narrow in scope. We get it: writers gotta eat, and sometimes bad takes and reliance on tropes are the result of a very broken industry. The TNR piece calls out advertising practices supposedly intrinsic to women’s media (false), criticizes packaged feminism and dumbed-down content for women — and throws some light punches at co-working space The Wing (which also publishes No Man's Land) and beauty company Glossier without even naming them.
While the piece does make some solid points, it says that “advertising these days lurks inside content that simulates ethical, feminist journalism,” but doesn’t offer examples of these sneaky ads (beyond a theory from Twitter). The piece argues that women’s “magazines compromise their editorial freedom to maintain relationships with their advertisers,” which the piece deems problematic because women's media is #feminist. But in 2018, branded content is funding far more than women’s websites, y’all.
We started this newsletter because we noticed one-off hot takes bubble up about women’s media every so often, further enabled by Twitter and then compounded by everything from venture capital to the very subjective, ambiguous and classist barriers to entry in media these days. But many responses to this TNR piece underscore our hope to contradict the recurring, shallow denigration of women’s media: plenty of women (and women journalists) simply don’t buy it. Below are some responses — and scroll down to see some recent highlights from scammers/ women’s media.