Woo Is For Women?

First of all I’d like to issue an informal apology for breaking the Saturday seal, but I really wanted to post about this, because this has been a pet hate of mine for a while, and while it is probably going to be relevant for as long as there are sexist tropes dancing around people’s brains I’ve been feeling a post brewing. I think it’s time to pop the cork and examine what’s wrong with segregating the magazine section by gender rather than genre.

I hope for your sake that your respective country has much more sense than this, but for myself and my fellow Brits we face a distinction in our magazine racks that appears to be pretty clean cut. Some are for men, some are for women. For a couple of magazines I suppose this makes some sort of sense, obviously there aren’t a whole lot of men who are going to be interested in magazines about pregnancy for example, but were it limited to that there wouldn’t be a problem embedded in this system.

Do you want to guess where the science magazines are?

That’s right, science magazines are for men.

How about the magazines about spirituality, psychics and astrology?

Yeah, those magazines are for women.

Now, no matter how good the marketing staff at each respective end are at targeting a certain gender, I find this to be not just presumptive and wrong but downright offensive for each party involved.

to suggest that women aren’t supposed to enjoy science is incredibly insulting to the intelligence of everyone with a vagina. In fact I personally have met much more women interested in the field than men, and although anecdotes mean very little, surely this points out a basal fact, that science is not for any single gender, but for everyone, everyone who takes an interest in it and everyone who wants to learn.

Equally, despite all the woo bashing we take pride in here on the Skepchick Network, men who take an interest in what society has deemed to be ‘spiritual’ have the potential, and probably are, equally as offended by the notion that, because there’s a penis in between their legs they’re not allowed to embrace their superstition and are instead directed towards reality and, in the rest of the men’s section, fishing and porn.

Again, this makes the assumption that women don’t enjoy sexual images and scenarios and if Fifty Shades of Grey has proven anything it’s that if you make porn a socially accepted medium, everyone regardless of gender or age will sneak a peak… or three books worth.

Obviously, given my passion, and one that is shared with the rest of this site, my primary concern is the science/woo side of this issue of targeting specific genders. Science literacy is very important and encouraging a lack of that in women in favour of angels and unicorns (you may think I’m exaggerating here, but I’m not, I seriously found a magazine in the women’s section declaring that angels and unicorns could help with love lives of women), is worrying to say the least.

But even looking beyond that, cooking is enjoyed by both sexes as both a past time and a profession, as is writing – both are clearly placed under a banner that represents a lot of what is wrong with our society, a banner that declares that cooking is not for men, that computers are not for women, when what should be there is a banner that speaks the truth. How difficult is it to tag the technology magazine’s under ‘technology’ instead of declaring that being male is recommended?

I seriously worry about the state of some people’s brains when I see something as inherently inaccurate as this in so many places. My girlfriend and I have recently made it a habit to take New Scientist, Scientific American, and the Xbox 360 magazine and place them over Spirit & Destiny and It’s Fate, but perhaps all our protests result in is a little inconvenience for one of the shop assistants.

[image credits: the natural skincare company, patchoulifair]

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Cat Strickson

Cat Strickson

Cat, or Elly, or Eddy, or whatever name they're going by these days, is a British palaeontologist and fantasy author. It's a pretty awesome skill set, but it doesn't pay much right now. They enjoy science, history, vidyagames and all things SFF.

1 Comment

  1. July 31, 2012 at 5:34 am —

    That sucks way more than my tiny whinge.

    See, in Australia and New Zealand they kind of do a similar thing where there’s a big wall of “underdressed women on the cover” magazines facing the door with “everything else” on the other side. From what I know of the sales figures, that wall of crap is 90% of the sales and a viciously competitive market, which explains just about everything about it. It does mildly amuse me that magazines targeting men and women have such similar covers though.

    The rest of the magazines… usually they have categories like “sport” “weddings” and so on. Then under “science” we get ‘Asstrology Today’ and ‘UFO Monthly’ along with actual science magazines. Which drives me slightly batty. I want a “Woo” category, dammit.

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