This is me in a black well of despair
Dear Suzanne Moore,
Having to write this pains me, it truly does, because you are one of my absolute favourites. Some might say that dedicating a blog to taking the piss out of women’s magazines is like shooting fish in a barrel, and perhaps, to an extent, it is. There is so much comedy gold laid out there right in front of you, it can be hard to resist.
But I knew the day would come where I would have to have beef with someone I actually liked. And that’s you, Suzanne. You’re great. So why, for the love of all that is holy, why, did you have to blot your copybook with “WHY COSMO ROCKS!”
I am referring, of course, to the article in this month’s Cosmopolitan Magazine celebrating its fortieth birthday, in which you hail the magazine’s decade long championing of female sexual pleasure and commitment to women’s rights.
When I read your words “Cosmo’s heart is on our side- the side of women. It’s there for us,” the guttering flame of hope that I harbour within my heart was almost snuffed out. But it is still burning, Suzanne, it is a light that will never go out.
I appreciate the legacy of the magazine, I really do. Our mothers talk of how it was passed covertly around the six form common room, how the taboo subjects of female pleasure and independence brought about a new consciousness. I get it. But when you said, “over the past decade or two, Cosmopolitan has understood what is and isn’t working for women”, well, that is where you lost me, and the black fog of depression engulfed my heart.
I cannot claim to speak for all women, but what I can claim is to speak for the women who set more store in your words than those of Cosmo, and it is our belief that the magazine, and others like it, is largely irrelevant. But none of us is even 25 yet, so what do we know?
We need you, Suzanne! You write stuff like, “All This Polite and Smiley Feminism is Getting Us Nowhere,” in which you said: “It is as though feminism had to sex itself up to keep itself interesting. We are not hairy man-haters who bang on about domestic violence and abuse. We are fascinating women interested in fashion, relationships and true intimacy.”
That’s basically Cosmo in a nutshell, isn’t it? Cosmo and its ‘F Word’ campaign, where wearing a pink and white t-shirt is enough, where words are enough.
You go on to say, in the same article: “how I miss those troublesome women like Andrea Dworkin and Shulamith Firestone. They may have been as batty as hell but they had passion. And balls. They were properly furious at the horrible things men do to women. Who in their right mind, male or female, isn’t? Your mother, your sister, your daughter are being told to stay inside and not complain too much. Take up knitting or vajazzling maybe?” (did you see the “Can you be a feminist and vajazzle?” featurette later in the magazine? Did you die a little inside too?)
Oh, Suzanne. How can someone who writes the words, “We are all sex workers these days, unless we are celibate, as we are all encouraged to pursue lifelong sexiness,” then write in praise of a magazine which so encapsulates the notion of erotic capital?
I hope you do not find me too emo. I can get along without you very well, you see, but I’d rather not have to. I am just a young woman who needs answers. It’s so confusing! There must be some kind of rationale behind this; do please tell me what it is.
Or is it just words, Suzanne? Is it just words?
Please do let me know. In the meantime, I and the rest of the Vagenda team shall continue being batty as hell. We will try to eat, and sleep, and breathe in and out every day, and hopefully, one day, we shall forget. But you can’t mend a heart that’s already broken.
We’re not breaking up with you Suzanne, we just need some space.
Lots of love
The Vagenda xxx