There's been an ongoing discussion about how poorly represented women are among the ranks of magazine writers. For instance, women wrote just 26.44 percent of New Yorker stories last year and only 16 percent of those in Harper's. But Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation (which does a bit better women-wise than some of its competition) has some interesting ideas on how we might change that.
Speaking last night at the Hillman Awards, according to Anna North at Buzzfeed Shift, she said it's the job of editors to change "how we assign and the way we conceive of this world." Specifically, she suggests, "we need to think hard about how we nurture a generation of women writers working across a range of issues." Of course there's more to be done within the major news magazines, but vanden Heuvel also argued that women's magazines should play a role, since they do, after all, publish some serious journalism in between telling you how to please your man and do your nails.
Of the lady mags, vanden Heuvel said, "I would not dismiss them. I think one wants to subvert them," but, she continued, it's possible to take issue with the messages they send and still pay attention to the useful points they're making. She compared them, interestingly enough, to HBO's Girls, saying that even though they lacked diversity they are "connecting with all kinds of women." And once they connect they can lead a big audience to start addressing more serious issues. So then why shouldn't we be looking at women's magazines as both a way to dig into the matters that affect us and as a yet another good place to let women lead the discussion? Well, maybe we should, but one serious obstacle is that nobody seems to be buying ladymags these days.