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March 3, 2018

Hello! Welcome to our first weekend Clipped, and thanks to our new subscribers for signing up.

If you’re new to our newsletter, that’s great, because we spend some time here reflecting on why we started Clipped last fall, our relationship, and how we became more aware of women’s media, rights and challenges around the world. And we’re also pretty concise — for once!

For the newcomers, you might like catching up on our interviews with Jezebel’s former deputy editor Kate Dries, founding editors of The Riveter Magazine Kaylen Ralph & Yanna Demkiewicz, and MEL Magazine’s deputy editor Alanna Levinson. If you have an idea for next subjects, email us at clippedmags@gmail.com.

Happy Saturday,
N & D

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why we started this newsletter 

Twice this week at Hearst, where I (Danielle) lurk, I've been asked how I became interested in writing about the history of women’s magazines. It’s a simple, justifiable question — yet both times it surprised me, and I gave somewhat vague answers. “My BFF and I couldn’t stop DMing on Insta about Cosmo! I work here! I looooove women!”  

I realized later that we’ve never even briefed you all on why we wanted to launch Clipped. In our founding issue, we told you we were journalists and magazine hoarders looking to establish a digital history of women’s glossies. You got the who and the what but not the why, as we were too excited to get going!

The going has been good, so here’s that why.

Natalie and I met at the University of Pittsburgh together where we both were editors at the campus daily newspaper. We also were mentored by Cindy Skrzycki, who taught a "Women in Journalism" class that shaped our perspectives on the industry and, in turn, our careers. Cindy taught us to think critically about how female journalists have been perceived and oppressed historically, and educated us on women who often don’t get their day in traditional journalism 101 courses. Martha Gellhorn! Ida B. Wells! Nellie Bly!

We learned how women, their ambitions, careers and stories, are often ignored or forgotten. With that in mind, Natalie published an op-ed in the campus newspaper in 2015 on why people need to stop shitting on women’s magazines. “By denouncing women’s magazines, you’re denouncing women,” she wrote. I agreed and presented on the importance on women’s magazines a year later as my final for an Intro to Feminism class. 

I started my presentation asking if anyone in the class read women’s magazines. A girl burst out laughing and shouted, “Like, as a joke?”

Personally, this newsletter is my FUCK YOU to her.

Janet Reitman & Robbie Myers respond to "Are women's magazines serious?"

One Cosmo subscription later,  Natalie graduated and moved to Minnesota, where I followed her after I graduated in 2016. Then I left Minnesota and moved to NYC, and it was Natalie’s turn to follow me. The conversations about magazines carried with ease from state to state, even when our mailed subscriptions did not. We’ve long wanted to start a creative project together, and Natalie suggested a newsletter on women’s magazines after months of me refusing to do a podcast with her (lol millennials).

We’ve covered gender politics wherever we’ve lived and worked, and we care a whole freaking lot about women and their stories. Women’s magazines are where a lot of those stories are being told, and reading magazines are the best way to understand how a culture values women and their work at any given moment in history.  

There are still so many people out there that think women’s magazines are just manuals on how to please your man and tools for advertisers to prey on women’s insecurities. We wanted our newsletter to work against that narrative and also function as an online archive of defining moments, characters, and publications in the canon. As Chloe Angyal wrote in HuffPost this week, “[h]istory, as we know it, is still a story that’s largely told by men” who overwhelmingly write about about other men.

So, Natalie and I are here to give you twice-monthly reminders on why you should consume, celebrate, and critique women’s magazines (we love them, but there’s always room to improve). More specifically, we are here to make sure that you didn’t miss this Vogue video of Cardi B lip-syncing to Carly Simon.

On Angelina Jolie's ELLE cover
ELLE, March 2018

I’ve been wanting my piloting license since I read an interview with Angelina Jolie talking about flying her private jet. A license brings obvious perks: aerial views and frequent travel. Learning to fly, on the weekends ideally near a beach, could be also be a fun hobby. But mostly, the breadth of solo air travel, free of borders and steering from the cockpit, still feels so new, so divine, and so slightly unattainable even for a 21st century woman.

In the March issue of ELLE, Angelina Jolie shares an Interview Magazine-style conversation with former Secretary of State John Kerry. The interview beats with the fair possibility that Jolie may run for office. In the piece, Jolie talks about her experience as a humanitarian and her focus on issues including violence against women, expanding women’s roles in the military, and becoming a “citizen of the world” while remaining an American patriot.

Compare this conversation to a 2003 interview with Jolie in Cosmopolitan, and some similar values shine through. While the Cosmo conversation focuses mostly on Jolie’s relationships and hot bod, it devotes one question to her budding role as the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador. It’s striking to observe how much either Jolie grew — or how much the media (gendered media) grew with her. The difference in tone and content of the conversations suggests how radically the female gaze has changed in only 15 years.

The female gaze, as I see it, revolves much around how much information we know about ourselves and our women’s history (which is so frequently unavailable or not preserved well). The first time I heard “Violence Against Women” used as a political term was only five years ago. I was 19 and had been reporting a story for my student newspaper about the inclusion of campus sexual violence in the reauthorization of VAWA, a few weeks after reporting on the expanding roles for women in combat (“Natalie, I’m just gonna give you the women beat,” my editor joked).
The funny thing was, this “news” was all incredibly new to me. I grew up in the United States believing, like many young American girls, that I could be, screw up and accomplish anything that a man could. Around the time I was writing those articles, I was becoming more aware of not only the sexism that pervades in workplaces, but of the violations of women’s basic human rights around the world. It was, to say the least, an overwhelming amount of information that I wish I’d learned earlier. That said, it’s become an ongoing project in my work and life.

Over the last five years, Jolie’s conversations about women and their bodies have ranged from calls to action for NATO to op-eds on her choice to have a double mastectomy. Talking about women’s bodies and pain openly is still radical. Doctors only just confirmed that menstrual cramps can be as severe as heart attacks this week. In less developed countries where Jolie often travels, periods prevent girls from even receiving a proper education. It is stunning and overwhelming to think about how much work we have left to do.

In her 2003 conversation with Cosmo, Jolie answered the question on how she chooses her roles: “The character needs to be beyond me, whether it's someone who's physically more advanced or wise or someone whose heart is in a place that I don't understand. I need to [be] learning [sic] and not regressing as a person.”

Still early in my career, that’s how I’ve begun thinking about the interviews we’ve done for Clipped and some of the subjects I try to cover (when I have the luxury of choice). Pursuing ideas that feel beyond me have been a way to grow.

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Thanks for reading, and hit us up! We want to know your memories with magazines, including what you loved and hated. And if you’ve never read a women’s mag, welcome. Send notes and scans: clippedmagazines@gmail.com.

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Copyright © 2017 CLIPPED, All rights reserved.
Written by
Natalie Daher and Danielle Fox. Designed by Martina Ibanez-Baldor.
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