Iron Ladies
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Iron Ladies

#DigitalDiets, #BoyMoms, Dying Women’s Magazines, and Moving On (But From What?)

When we started this magazine, I used Medium’s Letter function to send out the Sunday collection of curated links. But Medium’s Letter isn’t very versatile and besides, who wants to be at the mercy of any social media platform that can — and does — change their algorithm frequently and without warning? So I transitioned the collection to our own email account. For any readers wondering where the email has gone, sign up here.

Lately I’ve wanted to update past entries. Maybe they’ve been proven right or wrong, or the story has simply developed and a look back would be useful. So a few times a year, I thought I’d post a collection recap.

Is #DigitalDiet the theme of the year?, January 14, 2018

I should know better than to tempt fate like that. Events. Events. #DigitalDiet is a theme this year. As noted in January when Naomi Schaefer Rileys new book, Be the Parent: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat, came out, we’ve been on the cusp of a tech reckoning for a while. Technology and access have grown faster than society could create social rules about them.

Parents of iGen know that tech isn’t going away and that letting kids figure it out on their own like the Millennials did isn’t an ideal option. And a surprise not discussed enough: some of the kids recognize it too.

The retorts from those not in “active parenting mode” suggesting that we parents should just put kids on a strict digital diet fail to recognize common complicating facts, such as, how the kids learn about and master the software faster than parents, or how schools adapt to budget saving and environment-friendly innovations such as putting textbooks and homework in the cloud. Glib comments of the “just” — as in just don’t let them do that — are not as helpful as they might seem.

Since then the Wall Street Journal opened a Facebook discussion group on the topic that has been very informative. Through that, I rediscovered danah boyd’s book It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens, which I suspected was crazy insightful when my eldest was 9–10. Now, four years later, I know it was crazy insightful. She’s on Medium, and here’s her latest reaction and advice:

#BoyMom Rising, January 21, 2018

That collection highlighted some pieces from Susan Goldberg, mother of two boys, in a quick post:

SLM Goldberg is getting her #boymom on with Kicking Boys Off TV and 2018 Will be the Year Feminists Target Little Boys. A quibble to Susan, they’ve been targeting little boys for decades. If you mean they are going to step it up in 2018, yeah. (She does mean that. I’m just being a pest.)

Since then, Susan had another piece go viral, “When Will We Have the Guts to Link Fatherlessness to School Shootings?” Jordan B. Peterson endured the “So you’re saying…” interview by Cathy Newman. And after 11 years of research, Warren Farrell’s book, The Boy Crisis, will be out next week. The Newman interview helped push Peterson’s book, 12 Rules for Life, up to the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List. Warren’s book has been the #1 New Release on Amazon for about two weeks. Tucker Carlson has started a Wednesday night series #MeninAmerica. It premiered Wednesday.

That’s a surge in interest in the boy crisis. Maybe, just maybe, we will start seeing some real action for change.

The Decline of Women’s Magazines, July 23, 2017

That collection discussed how women’s magazines once had clout, influence, effect. Now they don’t. If they did, well, Donald Trump would not have won the White House and they wouldn’t be reduced to shock stories for sales. (It was the week of the anal sex how-to.) While they try to convince themselves of their continued relevance by making some noise, we see what Maggie Gallegher saw in her piece Vogue Politics — a wasting away.

Since then Teen Vogue went online only (which was in the November 5th collection).

An I-dare-you-not-to-click-on-me-story marks a terminal diagnosis for a magazine. How long death takes depends on how robust circulation was to start. TIME, for instance, has been showing signs for a while, but it is a much older weekly that had 4 million subscribers when Teen Vogue first ran. Teen Vogue was never that successful and was not rescued by recent viral articles about anal sex, as Emily Zanotti explains. Such articles might get clicks, but they don’t pay the bills, especially for a — supposedly — fashion magazine.

In other magazine dramas: TIME went for controversy clicks with “The Goddess Myth” that a woman is “built to build a human, that she will feel all the more empowered for doing so as nature supposedly intended and that the baby’s future depends on it.” (It’s part of the crunchy motherhood thing.) Marie Claire complained that Taylor Swift wasn’t using her popularity for progressive political gain. As Stacey Lennox noted, TSwift ignored them. Newsweek got raided. Rolling Stone finally settled everything and got bought. Magazines on paper did not have such a great year.

Short Memories and Whiplash, November 19, 2017

I’m revisiting this one because it might be my favorite, and “we’ve been here before” has become a major theme in my writing. In November the Harvey Weinstein reality was new and we were wondering how we got here.

If mental whiplash could be treated, doctors’ offices would be overrun with it this week. The big collective memory loss story of the week is of course how sexual harassment survived the 1990’s. But the memory failure goes beyond — far beyond — what I have written about feminists defending serial offenders for the sake of abortion.

First, a whole bunch of people have apparently believed for years that was a reference to moving on from the George W. Bush administration. No, it was formed by Democrats sick of Republicans harping on President Clinton’s treatment of female employees. We were supposed to be “moving on” from wasting the country’s time with the issue. Two big donors circulated an email for a “cyber petition” — hey, it was the early internet still — and when they gathered 200,000 signatures, they made a website. This is the email that circulated about that time. (Yes, web design has come a long way.)

Second, Kate Harding, author of Nasty Women and Resistance or something, tweet-stormed about how a Democrat, in this case Al Franken, should never resign in the face of sexual harassment allegations because a Republican politician never would. Thus, Democrats taking the high road might end up having their guy replaced by a Republican. Better to keep the offender with the D by his name in power. I thought it was bad on Twitter, but no — the Washington Post gave her space to make that case in an op-ed. And the really fun bit: she’s wrong. Exactly this happened during the Clinton impeachment hearing. Larry Flint had put out a hit on Republican lawmakers. He’d pay some chunk of money for dirt on any GOP House member’s sexual missdeeds, well, I’ll back up a bit further.

Clinton was impeached by an outgoing Congress and tried in December. As a result of the division between Republicans wanting accountability and Democrats wanting to “move on”, the party in the White House, Democrats, had won seats in a mid-term election. Not a lot but, historically, it was a thrashing. House Speaker Newt Gingrich was ousted by GOP leadership for this failure. Bob Livingston of Louisiana, who most have never heard of, was elected Speaker of the House for the incoming Congress. But the Flint hit turned up evidence of an old affair. He and his wife had moved on, but Hustler was prepping a story. So Livingston preemptively announced it when he called on President Clinton to resign and spare the country the trial. Members shouted back at him, “No, you resign.” He paused for a moment, and then he did. “I believe I had it in me to do a fine job, but I cannot do that job or be the kind of leader that I would like to be under current circumstances.” Democrats spent the next week begging him to reconsider because it made Clinton look so bad.

That’s the recap and update for now. To get similar links and commentary for your Sunday reading, sign up here.



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Leslie Loftis

Leslie Loftis


Teacher of life admin and curator of commentary. Occasional writer.