Letters to the editor

Are women's magazines dead? Plus: Don't break out the Geritol for NBA players; Cardinal O'Connor was not a hero to all.


Salon Staff
May 9, 2000 8:00PM (UTC)

Women's magazines are dead
BY ANN MARLOWE
(05/05/00)

Well, I guess your writer makes some interesting points about access to information. But that bit about Victorian women not being obsessed with physical appearance just because Jane Austen didn't detail it in her novels? Give me a break. And if women's magazines ARE dead because of the Web, then what's up with the proliferation of women-specific sites, which your writer casually dismisses in her closing paragraph? I can rattle off the names of 10 without even thinking, in areas from health and beauty to finance to film. Clearly, gender still matters -- even if women are choosing to get their information from a more easily personalizable source.

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-- Daniel Nevers

I found Ann Marlowe's piece on the demise of women's magazines quite interesting, yet, as much of a feminist as I consider myself, I can't fully join her in her delight. For precisely the same superficial, appearance-oriented reasons Marlowe rejects these magazines, I enjoy them. I read many, many "women's" magazines, from Ms. to BUST to Girlfriends, all of which offer me a substantially different take on the world of women than the traditional magazines like Mirabella, Vogue, Glamour and Cosmopolitan. Yet I also include the latter in my reading for the simply joy of abandoning my high-mindedness for a while, and soaking up the makeup tips, gossip and utterly feminine world they offer me.

Additionally, these print magazines haven't ignored the Internet; a recent copy of Elle had a special supplement attached featuring reviews of new and interesting Web sites. And Marlowe is right; I don't sit and wade through an entire magazine at once. I read part of it one day and part another, and often keep them around in case I'm bored and want something fun to read. I don't dispute that these magazines do focus on a very narrow view of the "women's sphere," but as long as we all acknowledge that this is but one of a broad range of things women are interested and involved in, I don't think these magazines have the power to harm us.

-- Rachel Kramer Bussel

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments of "Women's Magazines Are Dead," but think its conclusions are classic "glass half full." Instead of bemoaning the fact the one of the most intelligent women's magazines is going under (just like Sassy a few years ago) the author is applauding the fact that it's a women's magazine. Look around: Do you see any signs that other women's magazines that are only makeup, sex and gossip are dying out? If anything, they're actually getting more insipid; traditional women's magazines like Ladies Home Journal are now reduced to using silly sex teasers to compete. I suppose the article's thesis -- that gender as a predisposing factor in selecting magazines is fading -- may be true of more sophisticated women who wouldn't be caught dead with the more inane women's magazines. But the rest of the women who succumb to these magazines' orgy of fatuity are too numerous to just ignore.

-- Cheryl Guttman

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Not only aren't gender magazines on their last legs but the amazing development of the past 10 years is that men now have their equivalents to Cosmopolitan (e.g. Maxim, a phenomenon Salon has covered quite well).

Who thinks in today's world of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, "Felicity," "Ally McBeal," ad infinitum, that young women are paying less attention to gender cues which, in some form, have been around for centuries? Answer: someone who doesn't follow popular culture and has made up her mind in advance.

Mirabella was the intelligent woman's answer to Cosmopolitan. It failed because the readership of such magazines, in large part, didn't want a more intelligent approach.

One can read Cosmo and Barron's back to back. If Marlowe asked around I think she'd find this is what young women are doing.

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-- Kevin Scott Douglas

Geezer hoops
BY ALLEN BARRA
(05/05/00)

I was happy to see that Salon has decided to pay some attention to sports (although one column every two weeks seems hardly sufficient), and I found most of Allen Barra's first installment quite enjoyable. However, I must ask: How can one possibly discuss the NBA's search for a new, young star without once mentioning either Kobe Bryant or Jason Williams? And why is Allen Iverson dismissed out-of-hand? These, surely, are three of the most energetic, inventive and naturally gifted young players to grace the ranks of professional basketball for at least a decade.

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-- Ben Anderson

I was excited to hear that someone would be commenting on the absurd and exciting world of sports under the Salon banner, hopefully someone with the usual brain power and thoughtfulness of your other writers. Instead we got a lot of bitching about old basketball players, bitching about baseball players getting paid to protest the Elian Gonzalez seizure, bitching about a dirty punch thrown by Lennox Lewis and bitching about counterfeit sports memorabilia.

Additionally, his initial bitch -- that basketball is unhip because it still has 30-something superstars, but baseball is the young, exciting game these days -- is preposterous. Look at who the big stars were 10 years ago: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins; none of these guys were exactly freshmen then. To state that the NBA has failed to "come up with a single bona fide young superstar" because Iverson, Carter, Bryant and Duncan aren't the "next Michael Jordan" is just preposterous.

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Yes, the NBA is suffering from a post-Jordan hangover. But Barra declares that baseball has become America's hip sport because he will "bet you" that a list of baseball players he came up with is "better known to the young sporting public than any current NBA star, except maybe Shaq." Sorry, but except for a few bandwagon Yankees fans and kids who actually play the sport, I don't know anyone under 20 -- hell, under 40! -- who really watches baseball on TV. Ever.

Major League Baseball is a joke, all lousy pitching and lousy defense and lousy umpires and hyperactive free agency. Oh yeah, in case Barra didn't notice, it's full of all-stars in their 30s.

-- Eric Meyerson

Are you referring to the same David Robinson who got trounced by those old souls Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Penny Hardaway? You're right, there are no young superstars. Besides Duncan, finals MVP at 24, and Carter, whom you mentioned, there are no others. Allen Iverson, who led the league in scoring last year, and led his Sixers over the Hornets in the playoffs this season while saddled with more injuries than your average rugby team isn't a superstar. Kobe Bryant, who entered the league as a flashy offensive kid was recently named first team All-Defense at the advanced age of 22. He isn't a superstar, either. Tracy McGrady? Sure, he won't win a championship this season, but he's shown incredible growth for his age. What about Rasheed Wallace? Stephon Marbury? Kevin Garnett? Steve Francis? Sure, none of them are Magic Johnson, but none of them were lucky enough to get drafted by a team with a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, either (and don't give me Hakeem and Barkley, you can have 'em). The Magic and Bird rivalry, like Jordan, was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. And Nomar Garciaparra and Chipper Jones better known than Vince, Kobe or AI? Sure. Tell me another one.

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-- Russ Bengtson

As "moral" as YOU must be to enlighten us, please inform us why you speak of Mother Theresa, a wonderful woman who has been dead for years, in the same breath with an American sport. I don't think I've seen anything as stupid as this in my entire life! Are you people real? Or are you e-mailing your articles from a psychiatric ward?

-- John Frankle

"I want to see my mommy"
BY DARYL LINDSEY
(05/06/00)

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While Daryl Lindsey's article about the 12-year-old boy in a Cuban prison reminds us how awful life can be in Cuba, he ought to think again if he feels that Elian Gonzalez might necessarily be spared such a fate if he remains in America. State after state here has passed new, get-tough laws that mandate the trial and imprisonment, as adults, of children little older than Robertico. My own California just passed such an initiative proposition that treats 14-year-olds in just that manner; the same things that happened to Robertico will happen to them.

If Lindsey and Valladaras truly believe, as I do, that the jailing of children as adults is evil, then they should focus attention on that problem here in the United States rather than pretend that we are somehow immune from such horror.

-- Don Coolidge

Remembering Cardinal O'Connor
BY ARI L. GOLDMAN
(05/05/00)

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When I was a Catholic school student in the 1980s, a picture of John O'Connor hung in the main hallway. He seemed to be everywhere decrying the need to "feed the hungry, clothe the poor" -- a message that, at age 11, I could readily accept.

But when I was a young gay man in 1990s, his message of intolerance and hypocrisy regarding homosexuality -- among many, many other things -- was a bitter pill to swallow. To me, he embodies a faith that only embraced me when it didn't know me. And that's sad.

A good leader, religious or otherwise, is at the very least in touch with his people. An AP article detailing Cardinal O'Connor's many accomplishments and good deeds fails to recognize the fact that he turned his back on just as many people as he embraced.

-- Hollis Griffin

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I enjoyed your article about Cardinal O'Connor. I remember visiting St. Patrick's a few years ago when the Cardinal presided over a mass that included the confirmation of mentally handicapped children and adults. He carried that out with such compassion and grace.

I don't understand why the media seems to make the Cardinal out to be a contradictory figure. You imply that somehow one cannot be both a conservative and a man of unusual compassion. Where you call him an ideologue I call him a man of conviction.

-- Kevin Welsh


Salon Staff

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