Sometimes life has a peculiar harmony. Yesterday morning, Instapundit linked to a post I did in 2012 noting that women’s magazines have been one of the strongest vehicles in America for Progressive propaganda, and agreeing with Glenn Reynolds that conservatives need to get in the women’s magazine business if they want to change the culture. Yesterday afternoon, the mail brought me a copy of Teen Vogue, which apparently arrived here as a freebie after my daughter bought some online clothes. This little magazine, which is directed at America’s young women, proved to be an eye-opening read, and a reminder that Glenn Reynolds is as right now as he was in 2012.
The magazine, of course, is overrun with pages and pages of fashion and cosmetic advertisements, as well as a handful of articles pushing fashions for the upcoming season. What the magazine is really selling, though, is Progressivism. It beings with the very first substantive piece after the advertisements, which is a “Letter from the Editor” (Andrew Bevan, an openly gay fashionista). The letter is entitled “Feminine Force,” which is this edition’s “theme.” To that end, Bevan expresses delight that that, after a brief disenchantment with “feminism,” women in America are embracing the idea all over again:
What a difference a couple of years makes. It was just 2013 when the web lit up with stories about big-time female celebrities who preferred to distance themselves from the word feminist. I’m not gonna [sic] out them here, but you can Google it. Maybe it took a new generation to embrace the term (it simply means believing in equal rights for women!) and to stand up for the cause — especially on social media, which has gained, not coincidentally, a lot of traction in those two years. Lena Dunham, Rowan Blanchard, our wise and wonderful cover star Amandla Stenberg . . . Tavi Gevinson, Jennifer Lawrence, Cara Delevingne, and so many others are using their platforms to support opportunity for women, and the message is overdue.
That is a peculiarly disingenuous little paragraph. While feminism once was about such simple concepts as equal civil rights (voting, owning property, etc.), and equal workplace rights (equal pay for equal work), it now has nothing to do with “equal rights” for women. Women have already achieved those equal rights. Indeed, they achieved them as a matter of federal law by 1964. Now, while there may be a few scattered employers who try to cheat women, the institutionalized marginalization of women is in the distant past.
With the old feminism a relic, today’s feminism has turned into a toxic blend of Leftism and misanthropy that is laid out in quite horrific detail in Robert Stacy McCain’s Sex Trouble: Essays on Radical Feminism and the War Against Human Nature. At universities across America, men are routinely denied their civil rights as man-hating young women — and women, man-hating or note, make up the majority of new college admissions — work in tandem with radical feminist university staff to pursue a malicious vendetta against them. And of course, Lena Dunham. What can I say about that pathetic girl that I haven’t already said here?
The magazine’s Leftist take on the world continues with a “Spotlight” on “The New Sex Ed.” Its authors are two young women — Alexandra Brodsky and Dana Bolger — who identify as victims of sexual assaults at Ivy League schools and who are now touted for their “civil rights” “education” campaign, intended to protect other similarly situated young women from finding themselves “sharing a library with your rapist,” something that can make it “hard to learn.”
Reviewing Brodsky’s and Bolger’s bios makes for interesting reading, since both are like stereotypes of the Progressives that Ivy Leagues foist onto the world. Both Brodsky and Bolger work for a Progressive online publication called Feministing. Reading the “About” page, it’s clear conservatives need not apply, since it devotes itself to feminism, diversity, genderism, etc.
The young women’s Twitter feeds are also illuminating. Brodsky’s Twitter feed supports all the usual Progressive things — illegal immigration, abortion, anti-Israel, anti-military, and Obama. She also retweets a whole lot of anti-gun articles. Bolger’s Twitter feed is similar. She tweets approvingly about transgender rights (although the killings in Brazil that the tweet references should shock all consciences), historic colleges dropping mascots offensive to modern Leftist sensibilities, unionization, LGBT rights, the evils of white privilege, socialized medicine, and, of course, Bernie.
Brodsky writes frequently about her assault at Yale, but the details are non-existent. Interestingly, none of her writings indicate that the assault rose to the level of a criminal matter. I find that . . . interesting. Bolger is less verbose about her “assault,” but it’s clear that she too did not file a report with the police. Whatever happened between these two hard-Left young women and the men they accused apparently did not rise to the level of a criminal matter.
That’s not all that Teen Vogue pushes. As the inimitable Ron Popiel said, “But wait, there’s more!” On the page entitled “People Watching,” high schooler Cameron Lawrence, with help from editor Andrew Bevan, gets to boast about her self-illustrated feminism manifesto. After talking about her own low self-esteem, she explains to teen girls, tabula rasas every one of them, why feminism matters (emphasis in original):
I find feminism incredibly necessary and universal because it intersects so many issues. Gender politics crisscrosses discussions of race, ability, religion, socioeconomics, and more. The activism of this movement is inherently passionate and demands attention — it’s about equality and justice, and it’s constantly pushing boundaries for social and political reform. Feminists take no one’s sh*t [asterisk in original], and that’s why they rock so hard.
Is it me, or is what she said completely meaningless cant? The only thing I got out of it is that she’s a devotee of intersectionality.
What?! You’ve never heard of intersectionality? It’s the newest thing. In an article pithily titled “How Intersectionality Makes You Stupid,” James Kirchick explains what’s going on with this newest trend on the Left and just how dreadful it is:
Proponents of intersectionality have elevated its categorical paradigms of all-encompassing omnipresent “oppression,” and its attendant, identity-based hierarchies of virtue, to that of a Weltanschaunung, a new morality to replace the basic, classical liberal principles of freedom, individual rights, and equality before the law on which Western civilization is based. Because of intersectionality’s insistent that identity politics trumps all, reflexive condemnation replaces reasoned discussion, and those claiming to represent a higher good smother the rights of individuals. Likewise, intersectionality compels one to adopt agendas that have nothing to do with his or her own. Worse, in the name of “solidarity” with other supposed “oppressed” groups, it leads to alliances with those actively hostile to ones cause. This is how a gay rights organization led by well-meaning progressives can be duped into disinviting private citizens of the one country in the Middle East respecting the humanity of gays, all at the behest of people who use cultural relativism to excuse Muslim societies that throw homosexuals from the tops of buildings.
From Lawrence’s intersectionality nonsense, one travels to the cover article, a loving encomium to “actor and activism Amandla Stenberg.” Being old, I’d never heard of Stenberg. Thanks to Bing, though, I know that the 17-year-old half black, half Danish Stenberg is openly bisexual and that her shtick is to oppose “cultural appropriation.”
Stenberg got her 15-minutes of fame when she took a scholarly approach to objecting about white people daring to wear cornrowed hair. Just so you know what this bit of Leftist thinking looks like, here’s the video that shot her to fame, above and beyond a role in The Hunger Games:
Please note that Stenberg has her hair chemically straightened, like a white person, in the video. How dare she!
Okay, that was snarky. Here’s the deal: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. America’s strength has always been that it takes the best of the many cultures on its soil to create a beautiful amalgam of American culture. (Although there really is nothing “best” about people attempting the gangsta habit of “grills” on the teeth, but think of all the other wonderful stuff American culture has absorbed.)
It takes people desperate to victimize themselves to complain that, when black multimillion dollars stars spark a fashion trend, that’s racist. Frankly, the only way Stenberg could have vaguely interested me in her video is if she was wearing a dashiki and speaking Swahili. Or given her Danish background, shouldn’t she be speaking Danish, while dressed in a darling little folk costume?
The relentless Leftist feminism in the magazine goes on and on and on. There’s the section entitled “Rebels with a Cause,” that allows readers to “meet the faces of young feminism.” (Again, emphasis in the original; Teen Vogue really likes bolded text.)
The magazine gets props for introducing Sonita Alizadeh, an Afghani rapper (clearly living in America), who talks about child brides — something that all feminists ought to be calling Islamic culture out on. But the very next person . . . sigh, it’s 14 year old Rowan Blanchard, an “actor”:
I want teens of all races and sexes to know their voices are valued. Last year I wrote an essay — which I published to my Tumblr page — on intersectional feminism [see discussion of intersectionality, above] that discusses how feminists have fought for equality but many times overlooked how race and gender overlap with sexism.
As with Brodsky and Bolger, above, a scroll down Blanchard’s Twitter page is illuminating. Of course, she supports and believes in Bernie, transgender rights, Black Lives Matter, environmental racism, and attacks on white privilege. Yup, teen girls, looking for fashion, just got told again that hard Left activism is a fashion statement and the way to go if you’re a trendy girl.
And so it goes with these darlings of younger generation feminism.
There’s Rhi Blossom: “I’ve always been loud on social media about topics I feel are important, like racism, gender- and sexuality-based discrimination, environmental issues, and assault….” I tried to find proof of her social media stances on her Twitter page, but the posts were so marginally literate and meaningless, I gave up. Still teens are told she’s admirable.
There’s also Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, who boasts about “elevat[ing] Muslim women’s voices in today’s conversations….” Al-Khatahtbeh, another graduate of a prestigious hard Left school
Ivy League (Rutgers, in her case) is certainly elevating something, because she recently got to ring the bell at Nasdaq and found herself on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Her Twitter page reveals that she identifies as a Palestinian and supports all the usual Progressive stuff: illegal immigration; Black Lives Matter; Trevor Noah (Jon Stewart’s replacement who is, although it’s hard to believe it’s possible, worse than Stewart); and hijabs as a feminist statement.
Al-Khatahtbeh much vaunted website, MuslimGirl, which has gained recognition in Forbes, the New York Times, and on television, repeats the worst antisemitic myths, straight out of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. For example, there’s the article promoting the medieval canard of Jews killing people for their organs — in this case, not to make matzoh, but for grotesque medical practices — a truly disgraceful attack on the people whom Mengele tortured to death at Auschwitz. The site also approves of the reprehensibly anti-Israel, anti-Semitic Alan Rickman. Neither death nor acting talent could bleach the stain on Rickman’s soul from promoting Rachel Corrie, a hate-filled anti-Israel activist. And so it goes. Al-Khatahtbeh promotes hate and a short of edgy modernist sharia world view, and teens are told she’s cool and awesome.
To balance the antisemite, Teen Vogue has on the same page Lily Zweig, who says she always wanted to be a rabbi. Her sweetly banal Twitter feed barely hints at her underlying Progressive world view when it speaks out in support of Planned Parenthood. Otherwise — sorry, Lily — the token Jew is a nonentity.
And before I got bored with the whole thing, I read about Eli Erlick, who’s transgender — but I can’t figure out if Eli is a girl who identifies as a boy or a boy who identifies as a girl. I’m apparently as confused as Eli is. Here is Eli’s little bio:
I am a queer transgender activist currently majority in feminist, gender, and sexuality studies with a concentration in queer studies at Pitzer College. After coming out at the age of 8 and spending years experiencing transphobic violence, I decided to make a change. In high school I cofounded Trans Student Educational Resources; right now it’s the only national organization run by and for trans youth. My work and writing focus on organizations, pathology, health care, education, solidarity, identity, intersectionality, collective liberation, and the limitations of equality.
That is an amazing bio, combining as it does every aspect of the hard Left cultural takeover. And again, remember that this is being marketed to your daughters under the guise of a fashion magazine.
The other “young feminists” are just as edgy, Leftie, and irritating but, as I said, I got bored. Finally, there’s the section of the magazine with a fashion spread touting “androgynous beauty,” complete with pictures of “its” — young people who are neither boy nor girl. The fashions are not attractive nor are they flattering on the its.
The basic takeaway is that Teen Vogue isn’t giving a propaganda page to women who work for the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, which promotes conservative women and issues that matter to them. Instead, for the benefit of America’s teenage fashionistas, it gives free advertising to endless hard Leftists, all of whom are pushing a social and political agenda on young women who think they’re getting a fashion magazine.
Our girls aren’t reading the teen fashion magazines we remember from our childhood. Those had advice about looking pretty, making friends, having boyfriends (but making sure they still respected you), getting good grades, helping out around the house, etc.
I recognize that the world of teen magazines from the 1970s is long gone. But why can’t conservatives fund a magazine that focuses on trendy clothes that are still modest, feminine, and flattering? Conservative girls don’t have to dress like sluts or nuns. There’s a wonderful, charming in-between.
And how about celebrating girls who help teens who have chosen to have their babies, who worked their way through high school and college, who promote American values, who support the military, who are okay with their gender, who aren’t anguished, and angry, and defined entirely by their sense of victimhood? In other words, why not focus on bright, happy, successful girls who aren’t marinated in Leftist cant, propaganda, and cultural ugliness?
Charles and David Koch? Sheldon Adelson? Any other wealthy conservatives who recognize that, if we want to bring America back to normalcy, we have to provide a hip, fun, conservative alternative to the drek that inundates our young people?
UPDATE: Thanks to a reader, I now know about Verily, a fashion magazine that is fashion-forward, visually attractive, ostensibly non-political, and filled with common-sense articles based on self-respect rather than Progressive indoctrination. This is the kind of thing our daughters should be reading.
The problem I see is that I, the mother of teenagers who’s spent the last five years surrounded by teenagers, didn’t know about it. That raises this question: How do we get fun, wholesome publications to have a higher profile?