In this week’s Reader, Michael Miner interviewed Sarah Beardsley, the new owner of Venus Magazine. It’s jaw dropping. Her mega-millions vision to strip feminism from the print mag’s mission is not only willingly oblivious, but it’s also the latest example of an antiquated arrogance that is killing newspapers, radio stations and magazines. These institutions STILL think they are needed by an increasingly disinterested public, and if it wasn’t so pompous, I’d have a little pity. PREDICTION: Beardsley’s business-boomerang is reaching out to some unspecified female demographic, will miss its ill-defined target and will no doubt swing back around to slice her head off. Miner’s distanced, sly balance of quotes from Beardsley and original Venus founder Amy Schroeder yields deliciously back-handed results; the post delivers eye-opening look into how far removed old-media and its torch-bearers are from the reality that print is dead. Despite getting the “MOVE ONLINE” message from all angles – it’s people like Sarah Beardsley, who think that breathing new life into a corpse is just a crop and re-font away, that make me giggle at the thought of this circulation suicide. Venus is moving forward while ditching it’s roots, a recipe to fall flat on your anti-feminist face if there ever was one.
Fave quotes, in no particular order
From Amy Schroeder, original Venus Founder and current New Yorkist:
I live in New York now, and one of the things I think about is Chicago does a really great job of helping indie projects take off, but sometimes it’s hard to progress beyond a certain point. Not that there aren’t a number of resources there, but there’s a great sense of staying indie—and if you try to move beyond a certain point, people don’t like you anymore.
From Sarah Beardsley, the blind capitalist leading the newest in blind marketing:
That’s the unfortunate thing about feminism. People are scared of the F word. I think when a lot of people nowadays think of feminism they think of sort of the 1970s version of feminist women burning bras and being very intense and setting up lots of rules and structures. I have a great deal of respect for all the feminism movements. It was a very strong political movement and a lot of good came out of it and it took years and years for that good to occur. But I don’t know that people make a direct correlation between that and their doing feminist things—like working. And getting an education. Today more women are getting educations than their male counterparts.
Comment #1, from Minerva:
Can’t we just assume we’re equal and go from there? It’s astounding that anyone even uses such arcane references like feminism. Hey yeah, let’s burn our bras too.. Oh wait, that was done 30+ years ago.
An arts, music and trends magazine for women sounds great — why keep dragging the old feminism thing into it. It assumes that women are still trying to achieve equality. I’m sad if this is the case.
Comment from me, just right here:
I’ve encountered this notion of the word “feminism” having an icy stigma. I remember trying to get some vox-pop, or on-the-street audio for some freelance work, and lots women of all ages tended to shy away from it. It’s really unfortunate, I think. Most telling is that the only times I get positive or at least non-dismissive, eye-rolling reactions to the word is when I tell people I’m a feminist. AS IF it’s a novel concept! Regardless, I do use that opening to discuss why the word isn’t outdated and in fact, still needed as part of the daily reminder our society isn’t ready to move on, in discussion nor in print.