Boo, Whore! New Women's Mag Courts Whore DemographicS

If the nascent Gentlewoman seemed too demure for you, you're in luck, because there's another new ladymag on the block: Whore!

Before I start, I want to tell an unrelated anecdote, which dates from the early 60s. Apparently my grandmother Sadie 1.0 went, with her sister, to visit a third sister in Yonkers. But as they approached the house, in heels and sun-dresses, their nephew Johnny, then 13, appeared on the porch. "Whores! Whores! Get out of here, whores!" he screamed. So, they ran away. There has never been any explanation of this bit of family lore, save that Johnny was "an angry boy" who later went on to a successful career in sales, so.

In case you hadn't guessed, Whore! the magazine is all about reclamation.

Whore! magazine is dedicated to celebrating the current and historical qualities of women who have defined a role for themselves outside the status quo. Through written word, art, design, fashion, and music, Whore! magazine will create a dialogue about what women are as opposed to what traditional society has dictated they should be. Whore! will also explore issues largely untouched by mass media, while reclaiming a derogatory word that has long been used to censure those who would desire, express, resist, or simply take a different path. We intend to recognize those women, both modern and historical, who strive for experience rather than conventional "goodness," and continue to fight an age-old battle against expectation.

And from the Editor's letter:

Desire has driven civilization. Historically, many women have earned the title of whore for daring to engage in such masculine pursuits as getting an education, providing medical care to the underprivileged, leading an army, or just going out in public in a very dashing tuxedo. "Fags," "dykes," and "queers" have also been a part of this history, dancing with the whores and just as often condemned. While their battles still rage, in many places they've succeeded in claiming their identity and owning the words that were once used to demean them.

Issue 1 includes "Gay porn and the women who dig it," "A history of vibrators," "A step-by-step guide to automotive empowerment," "the trials of hipster stripping" and a smattering of historical whores (!) There's also fashion and beauty ("Trashy Clothes for Classy Ho's.") The aesthetic is sharp and sophisticated. From the magazine's blog, it looks like there are some good, smart writers and thinkers on board. The emphasis on outreach and women's issues is terrific. But it seems Whore! is still figuring out just what it'll be - more Bitch (which, by this standard, sounds practically quaint!) earnest Ms., irreverent Bust or flippant Jane. (And it must be said, in my reader's opinion there are one or two ill-judged Anais Nin moments which I trust will come out in the wash.) Then there's the Whore! gear - in which you can aid in the term's reclamation by sporting the epithet over your vadge, pregnant belly, or French Roast as the case may be.

Is there room out there for a smart, politically engaged women's mag? You betcha, as someone who's one of those two things might say. Historically, it's been hard for woman-centric publications to balance the cerebral and the aesthetic, and we say good luck to anyone who tries - especially in this economy. My primary concern is that, reclamation or no, I'll never be able to see the cover without thinking Regina George - which is the one sort of empowerment not in short supply. Nevertheless, we await Issue 1 with interest.

Whore!