Jon and Kate, Plus Millions of Female Tabloid Readers

Even if you don’t watch reality television, or television at all for that matter, you’d be hard-pressed to avoid the recent controversy over Kate and Jon Gosselin, and their eight children. The stars of the beloved reality spectacle, Jon and Kate, Plus Eight, are divorcing. Despite salacious rumors about infidelity, they claim that it is just a gradual growing apart and, they add, the media spotlight certainly did help matters. It’s hard to feel much empathy for a couple complaining of overexposure when they signed the contract that would expose their entire family, eight little children included, to 24 hour cameras.
But perhaps it’s not just the media, or Jon and Kate, that are to blame. Kiri Blakeley, of Forbes.com, argues that female consumers are also culprits in this family dissolution. We’re the ones hungrily scavenging for every last juicy morsel about the couple’s demise, particularly the stories about what Kate did wrong, Blakeley argues. We’re feeding the sexist media beast. She writes:

It’s obvious who is devouring the Monster Mom headlines: Women. Research firm Mediamark estimates 73% of US Weekly’s, 83% of In Touch’s, and 77% of Star magazine’s audience are female.

It’s complicated. One of the most powerful ways in which we can practice our feminism is in our consumption choices. This can mean everything from where we buy our food to what kind of tampons we use to, yes, what magazines we read. The editors of feministing aren’t afraid to admit that we’ve got some of our own guilty pleasures (All My Children, horror movies, reggaeton etc.), but they induce guilt for a reason–we know that our consumption of these things contradicts our values on some level.
No one’s perfect. At the same time, I get incredibly sick of hearing everyone complain about the quality (or lack thereof) in the magazines marketed at women, and then turn around and support these same magazines by buying them at the airport kiosk. If we really want television programming or print media that speaks to our issues, then we need to tune into shows that reflect our desires, write letters to the magazines that don’t.
It takes some self-discipline to avoid some of the more salacious crap on television and in print, that’s for sure. But if we really want the media world to change, then we’re going to have to start taking responsibility for our consumption choices. A guilty pleasure here or there makes us human. Blindly consuming “monster mom” stories about Kate Gosselin, celebrity weight loss exposes, or the latest Real Housewives series threatens to keep the sexist status quo very much in place.
I’m wondering how the feministing community draws the lines when it comes to television and media consumption. Do you allow yourself People magazine at the airport? Do you watch reality television that degrades women? Have you ever written a letter to the editor when a magazine did something you either loved or hated? Why or why not?

See community blogger crazyface8d on the topic.

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80 Comments

  1. BROWN TRASH PUNK!
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    yeah, it is really tiring and annoying. I don’t read tabloids but I see these covers ALL the time when I’m at the market or walking outside on the streets and I see these on newspaper stands. I just want to take ‘em and chuck ‘em down the street!
    I never even heard of Jon and Kate until the whole cheating scandal broke out onto the news. I’ve seen so many nasty tabloids that attack the mom and portray her as an evil, controlling bitch that her poor hubby cheated, in order to find comfort in another woman’s arms. *rolls eyes*
    while on this topic, I’m sick of the stupid “Angelina vs Jennifer” triangle that the tabloids keep bringing up, and encouraging females to pit themselves, the “normal girls” (Jennifer) against “alpha females” (Angelina).
    What’s even more depressing is that many females buy into this brainwashing bullshit, helping tabloids to keep in business. STOP READING THEM! STOP BUYING THESE TRASH! STOP FEEDING THE CYCLE OF SEXISM!!!

  2. MiriamCT1
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a TV. But I kept seeing stuff about Jon and Kate on the tabloids in the grocery store. I looked them up on Wikipedia and I have to say 1. Yes, I do live under a rock, but I am glad for it and 2. What the hell is with this media circus? I personally feel a little badly for them. While I’d like to think that I would have the strength to say “thanks, but no thanks” to the offer they were given, 50 grand an episode, I don’t know if I would. But my life is happily boring.
    I have found that since ditching the TV, I have much less patience for sexist marketing and media then I used to have. I am careful/ picky about the media I do consume, the radio and internet. I don’t know, maybe I’m choosing to live in a feminist bubble, but between websites like Feministing and magazines like Bitch I read about what’s out there and I feel like I’m not missing that much.

  3. stellarose
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    What I don’t understand is why this family was some sort of media darling prior to this “fall from grace” infidelity and sepapration. Isn’t this woman just the same as the octuplets mom, except she had a husband at the time she gave birth? What troubles me the most about the Jon and Kate thing is that people seem so facinated with women have 6 and 8 babies at the same time due to medical manipulation, whereas the majority of the women in this country don’t have access to decent maternity care that matches international standards. Why are we so fascinated with these women/couples who engage in this extremely medicalized and technological form of reproducing?

  4. pleco
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never read a “women’s magazine” or a celebrity gossip magazine, I’ve never watched a reality TV show, and I have written to my local newspaper 3 or 4 times about their editorials (though I’m not sure the first time counted, since I was 9). I had my brief interest in teen gossip magazines when I was 12-13, and it ended shortly after, so I suppose I connect gawking/gossiping with being juvenile. I have often felt like the only woman in the world who has never cared about Jon and Kate, “casual actors” are paid to entertain gawkers with their daily lives.
    I guess my initial opinion is that you speak with your dollar. If you want to eat shit, it’s not the company’s responsibility to feed you anything better. However, that excludes the possibility that you may like one part of a production while disliking other anti-woman aspects, or that you may not recognize those anti-woman aspects in the first place.
    Rather than worrying about what people are entertaining themselves with, I think solving the problem (or at least addressing it) goes back to the fundamentals: quality education for all and reinforcement of women as independent, free-thinking individuals. You can’t make everyone a genius, but you can train most people to think critically about their entertainment, and enable them to voice their own opinions instead of mushing into the crowd. If they still want to watch Jon and Kate, observe someone’s vocal bellyflop on American Idol, or read about how fat Britney Spears is after having her baby, that’s their right and something any entrepreneur with half a brain is going to cater to.
    I feel a bit like I’m being asked to bat all the nosy women with a rolled-up newspaper, or that women who do enjoy these forms of entertainment are being asked to self-flagellate, but I think it’s just my projection on the issue. This is like the make-up post in the community section a few days ago, in that it’s something you feel guilty doing…and maybe it shouldn’t be? I am woman, and I’ll do whatever the hell I want? The only unfeminist thing would be to judge all other women based on what I’m doing, or to say that what I’m doing is purely a part of my biology or my monthly hormone rush, instead of my individual choice.
    Yeah, rambling. It feels good and it’s probably unproductive. Guilty pleasure.

  5. cattrack2
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Interesting, I’m kind of like Miriam. I chucked my TV a couple years back. I don’t read the tabloids, but then I can’t escape the headlines at the grocery store either. I despise reality TV. And I have from time to time written the editors if I really had a problem w/ something in their magazine or program.
    That being said, I think the more relevant question is why do so many women enjoy the tabloids? Maybe for a minority of women its just their guilty pleasure, a bit of escapism from a mundane world…or maybe there’s something else to it. I don’t know. Of course of the ‘sexist evils’ in the world, I think tabloids are close to the bottom, so I certainly don’t begrudge anyone their 15min of fun.

  6. norbizness
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Truly, they are American royalty.

  7. Ruby
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I tell people all the time that the most fundamental conflict of my entire life is reconciling my feminist values with my love for VH1 reality television.
    I know. I’m a horrible person. I hate myself.

  8. 76cents
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Rescue Me is my guilty pleasure. I hate the way women are portrayed on it and every week I say they have got to get a woman writer. But I enjoy all the other elements of it and try to ignore the rest. Really the women are so one dimensional.
    Having said that I won’t buy tabloids, I don’t watch reality tv and I thought Letterman’s joke was disgusting.
    But Rescue Me…guilty!

  9. llevinso
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    One of my biggest guilty pleasures used to be US Weekly. I used to have a subscription to the magazine and I couldn’t wait until I received it in the mail. Then I had to cancel my subscription due to lack of funds. I wish I could say that I cancelled it for a more altruistic reason, but that was the truth. That was 2 years ago. I still get these cravings to buy them when I’m in the check-out line at the grocery store. And I used to give in. But now I resist! And that IS because of the feminist in me. It’s a little victory for myself but that’s alright. I’m resisting that little guilty pleasure and it makes me feel good. And that goes for any of those magazines (although I’ve never ever in my life bought or had the desire to buy Star or In Touch or any of those other mags that I swear only have covers of celebs without make-up or “guess whose cellulite!”) I’m gossip mag free :)

  10. anteup
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    I support Spike TV by watching CSI religiously. You are not alone.

  11. littleshotlarry
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Why does it seem like the overwhelming point of this post is to get women to say “I know. I’m a horrible person. I hate myself.”
    If every reader of every feminist blog including feministing decided tomorrow that they would never pick up a copy of people/watch TLC/ etc. again, it wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar of the people producing this garbage. No part of this post addresses the ACTUAL problem. It shames women, but that’s about it.
    “I feel a bit like I’m being asked to bat all the nosy women with a rolled-up newspaper” sums it up for me perfectly. How is that going to affect any real change? All that does is present a group so futilely sanctimonious that the very women that the group is supposedly addressing will reject the group doing the guilt-baiting wholesale.
    There is plenty to criticize here that makes the choices made by women purchasing tabloids extremely benign by comparison. Talking about that, of course, is a lot harder, and isn’t as easy as saying “hey you just need to stop existing in consumer capitalism and it will cease to exist.” It doesn’t work that way, because while many of us may have more choices about our participation in things [especially those with internet access and free time etc.], a lot of us don’t have nearly as much choice. And you know what, it is not their fault that they are being sold a bag of lies.

  12. BackOfBusEleven
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    And I with G4 by watching Ninja Warrior. I might be the worst offender here! But Ninja Warrior is fucking awesome.

  13. BackOfBusEleven
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    The only CelebReality show I watch is Rock of Love Charm School. I just started watching it this season, and I think the show is really positive. Viewers probably don’t get to know much about the women on the other shows they were on before. That’s sad, because they all have serious issues that they’ve dealt with their whole lives. Their problems are being exploited for our entertainment, and I think a lot of people forget that these are real women with terrible experiences. To see them get help and watch them change, to me, is more entertaining than watching them get drunk and make out with Bret Michaels.

  14. Ruby
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Oh crap I do that too!! I didn’t even think about that one. Man. I really do suck!
    But I love me some CSI.

  15. Ruby
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    The thing that I always notice about tabloids and how they portray women is that they always want to paint a woman as a “bad mother”.
    Like, when the Britney Spears chaos was at its peak, the coverage was all about putting the emphasis on how she was a bad mom, which is something you just don’t see with men. When the scandalous behavior of male celebrities is covered (which is way less often), there’s never the “bad father” factor.
    I think that’s definitely what’s happening in the Jon & Kate scenario. Since the story broke, it’s as if these tabloids are just trying to find a reason to call Kate a bad mother. Like when they were taping some kind of interview and one of her daughters asked her for water and Kate said no, or when she spanked on of her children outside their house and paparazzis photographed it. It’s like everyone wants to go, “Oh! Look how bad a mother she is! She’s mean to her kids!” yet no one wants to say Jon’s a bad father for having an affair.
    People have also been talking about how Jon and Kate got married and had children very young. It’s like men have this built-in excuse for shirking their responsibilities as parents with the whole, “second adolescence” thing. Women don’t have that.

  16. AnatomyFightSong
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I sometimes watch reality TV, read People, etc., because my brain needs a break from the challenging and/or depressing shit that makes up 95 percent of my media consumption.

  17. cattrack2
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I think you make a good point. I’m not so sure the tabloids don’t point the finger at “bad fathers”–before Britney’s breakdown people thought ‘K-Fed’ was a horrible father–but I think they hold mothers to a higher standard. In some ways this just reflects reality. I think there are far fewer ‘bad mothers’ than there are ‘bad fathers’…Its not uncommon to hear about men just up & leaving their families; its much more rare to hear about women doing so. So I’m not sure that the bad mother finger pointing reflects a double standard as much as it reflects the unusual nature of it. This is also seen in making the mother the primary custodian in divorce cases.

  18. BackOfBusEleven
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think Jon is a bad father for having an affair. I think what makes him a bad father is the fact that he’s pretty absent. It’s very easy to blame Kate in this situation, because she’s with the kids more now that they’re not together. Jon might not have been caught spanking one of his daughters or denying one of them water, but I haven’t seen him with any of the kids on his own since this whole infidelity scandal started.
    From what I’ve heard, Jon used to work while Kate stayed home, and now Jon stays home and Kate does promotional stuff for the show. That’s a lot of stress on one parent. And even though this looks equal because they’re taking turns, it probably doesn’t feel that way when 8 kids are yelling out 8 different requests for dinner or whatever.

  19. No way
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Slightly off-topic, but something rubs me in a funny way about the phrase ‘at the airport’ appearing repeatedly in here. How much do you people fly? Or, since you ask us readers in this way, how much do you think WE fly all the time? Do you think the 20 minutes before boarding are the most representative indicator of our feminist consumer choices, given the bizarre situation one is in between passing armed security guards and being allowed on the plane, in that weird frame where there may be really nothing to do but eat and drink and read and watch whatever is available in an utterly cold, state-controlled security environment?

  20. AnatomyFightSong
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    I also want to add, this sentence bothers me: “Do you allow yourself People magazine at the airport?” It reminds me of women needing to “give themselves permission” to eat a high-calorie dessert … like we can’t be trusted to control our intake of these “bad” items. Just thinking aloud…

  21. liz
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    I never saw the show, like others here.
    Chiming in on this topic for me is like when I have an opinion about pornography– I never saw it but don’t like it.
    The speaks loudly to me, because there are loads of people who love it. Why are they and I so different?

  22. eleanargh
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    That’s a good point, No way, and one I didn’t pick up on myself – not all of us necessarily fly, ever. I do once or twice a year – but my airport-related guilt* isn’t to do with which magazine I pick up but with the amount I’m increasing my carbon footprint, and thinking about how my leisure is potentially affecting the lives of people more vulnerable to changing climates.
    Although interestingly last time I was in an airport was the first time I’ve ever bought ridiculously expensive moisturiser). There is something about that environment that makes one spend money on things you wouldn’t otherwise, which is maybe why Courtney mentioned it as somewhere you might ‘give in’ to gossip mags.
    *I don’t mean to say others should feel guilty and I know a ton of people have to fly for a ton of reasons, but this is how I feel.

  23. eleanargh
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

    I reckon rambling’s highly productive and an excellent way to work out your own thoughts :)

  24. eleanargh
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Don’t hate yourself, you’re not a horrible person! You’re aware of what you’re doing and you’re able to be critical of it, which I think makes you an AWESOME person.

  25. Ruby
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Awww, thanks. I like you, too!

  26. eleanargh
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    I don’t feel the post is phrased in a shamey-way. I think Courtney phrased it to ask us to talk about the choices we make and the ones we feel uncomfortable about. She’s not asking us to hate ourselves – rather to think about our choices and frame them/the reasons for them within a society which is yelling at us to consume things which might not be the greatest for humanity… I hope we can do that without turning self-critique into self-hatred.
    I also think that being a conscious consumer does not have to always directly affect the people ‘producing the garbage’ to be successful – for e.g., this year I took part in a boycott of Heinz products in the U.K. because they pulled a TV ad which featured two men kissing after conservative groups complained. The boycott didn’t result in Heinz reinstating the ‘gay kiss ad’, but it did create a huge sense of community and empowerment amongst gay people and allies who were talking about this shit and calling up Heinz complaining. Boycotting, or other forms of conscious consumption, can create community and spread awareness – PLUS the money you’re not spending in one place can sometimes be redirected to a company which DOES pay attention to your interests, and it might be that company that you really affect by telling it you support its moral stance thus encouraging it to continue.
    Bit of a ramble, but I think that thinking about our media choices is never pointless. You’re right to point out that not everyone is in a situation to be able to make positive change choices – but that doesn’t mean we should stop interrogating our own choices, just as long as we remain aware that we cannot tell other people what to do. We can raise awareness of why we choose to do what we do though. Hell, I love conscious consumption, it’s one of my favourite forms of activism.

  27. daytrippinariel
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    If a woman buys People magazine, she’s got trivial interests. If a man buys Playboy it’s “for the articles”.

  28. eleanargh
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    Hurray! :)

  29. eleanargh
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Well, that showed up in the wrong place. I’m gonna repost it below so it makes sense.

  30. eleanargh
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    I don’t feel the post is phrased in a shamey-way. I think Courtney phrased it to ask us to talk about the choices we make and the ones we feel uncomfortable about. She’s not asking us to hate ourselves – rather to think about our choices and frame them/the reasons for them within a society which is yelling at us to consume things which might not be the greatest for humanity… I hope we can do that without turning self-critique into self-hatred.
    I also think that being a conscious consumer does not have to always directly affect the people ‘producing the garbage’ to be successful – for e.g., this year I took part in a boycott of Heinz products in the U.K. because they pulled a TV ad which featured two men kissing after conservative groups complained. The boycott didn’t result in Heinz reinstating the ‘gay kiss ad’, but it did create a huge sense of community and empowerment amongst gay people and allies who were talking about this shit and calling up Heinz complaining. Boycotting, or other forms of conscious consumption, can create community and spread awareness – PLUS the money you’re not spending in one place can sometimes be redirected to a company which DOES pay attention to your interests, and it might be that company that you really affect by telling it you support its moral stance thus encouraging it to continue.
    Bit of a ramble, but I think that thinking about our media choices is never pointless. You’re right to point out that not everyone is in a situation to be able to make positive change choices – but that doesn’t mean we should stop interrogating our own choices, just as long as we remain aware that we cannot tell other people what to do. We can raise awareness of why we choose to do what we do though. Hell, I love conscious consumption, it’s one of my favourite forms of activism.

  31. ragdish
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Back in med school in the 80s, a dear friend enlightened me about feminism contrary to public perception at the time. She had abandoned her conservative Christian background to embrace a liberating, secular ideal with the ultimate aim of gender equality. She elaborated that feminism is not a list of dos and don’ts in contrast to her former christian values. There are no priests or mullahs telling you what you can or cannot watch, read or do. She had socialist ideals and actively protested against physicians who advocated for extra-billing of patients in Ontario, Canada. Now on her birthday she received a first class airline ticket to Hawaii. She went there and had loads of fun. You can argue that flying first class was unfeminist and contrary to her socialist ideals. She committed heresy by succumbing to the capitalist free market that is the ultimate driving force for patriarchy and inequality. She committed an unfeminist act and she is therefore no longer a feminist, right? NOT !!!!
    I couldn’t care less if an individual watches a stupid TV show like “Jon and Kate” or other “unfeminist” pleasures. If a person is fighting for equal pay for equal work, ending violence against women, reproductive rights, etc..I couldn’t care less what he/she does in their private lives. He/she could be watching porno films with cats and dogs fucking for all I care. Like my friend in med school, if in your heart you are a feminist and you’re actively doing some good in this world then that’s all that matters. Don’t thought police your media consumption choices. If you like watching stupid shows like “Jon and Kate” go ahead. Plus you have the remote and there is always the choice of switching the channel to watch Christiane Amanpour.

  32. Ruby
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Christianity, or religion in general, is not merely a list of “dos and donts”. Also, Christianity and Feminism/Liberalism are not mutually exclusive.
    Sorry, derailing. Just wanted to make that statement.

  33. timothy_nakayama
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Are tabloids in the United States marketed mainly to women? I would have thought tabloids in the United States would be marketed to everyone, so that they could get more revenue, and seeing how the United States is the home of a lot of celebrities, a large number of men and women would be interested in how the stars are doing/what they’re doing in their lives.
    If tabloids are indeed marketed in a neutral manner, then why would it have more female readership than male?

  34. Hypatia
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    I think one of the downsides of modern culture is the fact that it encourages people to justify their so-called “guilty pleasures” instead of trying to correct them. By guilty pleasures I don’t refer to the intellectually lazy person who watches Charm School in their spare time; I mean the smart, proactive one who is genuinely concerned about the state of women worldwide– and secretly reads People magazine. I think the society we live in today, will defend the second person’s behavior; in the name of defending *individualism*, we will call it a “guilty pleasure” that makes us human. What it really is is a lack of moral strength and a lack of intellectual committment. As long as this double standard for women continues, I doubt that feminists can make any real progress in the world. We are financially supporting sexism and misogyny while publicly endorsing the exact opposite.

  35. ragdish
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I wholly agree and my apologies if my post implied the contrary. I would also add that there are atheists who are quite sexist and mysoginist (eg. Larry Flynnt of Hustler magazine). My friend was raised in a repressive, fundamentalist household which most certainly did not reflect the liberal pragmatic majority among her faith.

  36. BackOfBusEleven
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    So feminists can’t make a difference in the world unless they’re perfect?

  37. kissmypineapple
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    What it really is is a lack of moral strength and a lack of intellectual committment.
    That bothers me very much, as does the previous statement that you don’t mean the “intellecutally lazy,” but rather “smart” women. So, if you read Us magazine, you’re either stupid or morally deficient? I’m not a saint, and I will never pretend to be. The majority of the action I take in my life is pro-feminist action. I am highly civically involved. I am a victim advocate, and I spend my days working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, but because I drop $3 two or three times a year on a tabloid, that I buy because I like to look at the sparkly dresses before I board a plane, I am intellectually lazy or morally bankrupt. I had no idea that one tiny act cancels everything else good I have ever done.
    Please. I am an environmentalist, but occasionally I use a paper towel. I suppose I’m holding back the rest of society from acknowledging global warming, then?

  38. Qi
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    They are not marketed in a neutral manner. Most tabloids and all celebrity focused tabloids are heavily read by women. They are rarely read by men in comparison. I am not sure if it is people responding to the marketing or marketing responding to people.
    Is it different in your country?

  39. AnatomyFightSong
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Where do you draw the line? Should I be questioning your moral fortitude for wasting electricity and using the internet instead of being out doing “real” activist work? Or is that taking things too far?
    Is a vegan who kills a bug a hypocrite? How about an environmentalist who smokes a few cigarettes a year? Or a labor activist who drank a cup of non-Fair Trade coffee at an AA meeting?

  40. Tara K.
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    Busted. I’m totally watching Jon&Kate +8 right now.
    I don’t buy the magazines (why would anyone when you can read it online?) but I do watch the shows. I’m an unapologetic pop culture junkie, and I’m particularly fascinated by the popularity of TLC’s mother-centric programming. I have a lot of thoughts on the subject, but they’re not ripe enough to really form right now…
    Anyhow, just wanted to confess.
    Actually, I refuse to buy any magazine with a woman on the cover. This isn’t a difficult vow, as I don’t particularly want to read any of them anyhow. I do like “junk food” reading for the gym (as I just can’t dig theory while doing cardio), but I won’t buy magazines that feature conventionally beautiful women as eye candy on the cover, period. It’s not a hard choice.
    It’s important to remember (and we all forget) how powerful our purchases are. Thanks for the reminder! Imagine if we could capture the commercial momentum of the green movement?

  41. Meep
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    I guess when you have eight kids, $50 grand an episode must start looking mighty fine. (I mean, it’s just me and my sister, but we could use that kind of money.) Each episode is a year of college for the kids, after all.

  42. kisekileia
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    I suppose the silver lining of this is that at least a significant part of the magazine market is being driven by women’s desires rather than men’s.

  43. vegkitty
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    The Jen/Angelina rift gets me, too. Especially since Jennifer Aniston seems to have only remained relevant through those stories. IMO, she hasn’t had a decent movie in years (and I’m not a Jolie fan, either). Sometimes I wonder if their respective camps fuel these articles just to keep their names in the spotlight, you know?

  44. vegkitty
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    I dunno, I kind of think of these stories as the modern version of the circus freakshow. Instead of the bearded lady, we have women who have large amounts of children. Mass Culture loves a crazy-yet-true story.

  45. cattrack2
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    If it were possible for a celebrity magazine in the US to market itself to men & women & double its revenue, instantly, overnight, trust me it would. But marketing is generally about the art of the possible. It takes a whooole lot of money to gin up consumer interest in something they don’t have at least a latent interest in already. So, no, this is celebrity mags responding to the market, not celebrity mags shoving mags down womens’ throats.

  46. timothy_nakayama
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Hmmmm. But why would women have more of an interest in reading tabloids than men? One of the posters above mentioned that she sometimes pick up tabloids to see the fashion inside. But if that were so, wouldn’t it be preferable to pick up a magazine that deals in fashion/clothes/accessories rather than a tabloid? It shows that besides the fashion in tabloids (I assume most tabloids in the US have fashion in them?), most women who read tabloids would want to read the news about celebrities and their lives.
    But why would it be that women have more (latent, as you say) interest in reading about the lives or going ons about celebrities than men? Does it have something to do with the socialization by society that says Women are interested in relationships (between people)?
    At first I thought that perhaps, because women have less choices in their lives, that reading about celebrities’ lives is a way of living vicariously through the adventures of these celebrities. But then again, there must be plenty of women who have nice jobs, great education, who also read tabloids, so that line of reasoning won’t hold.

  47. jruka
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    I did not read the other forty-four comments before writing this…so I apologize if my comment sidetracks where conversation has been.
    I have watched Jon & Kate Plus 8 since its first one hour special. I love Kate Gosselin as if I know her and contrary to most, do feel bad for her. I do not think that by signing on to do the show she signed on for six weeks of Us Weekly covers; I do not even think Us Weekly imagined the response that they would get by putting the Gosselins on the cover.
    I never bought the magazines. I do not read those magazines, and rarely do I even go to online celeb blogs (i.e. Perezhilton.com). My dad drew my attention to one of the blogs and the comments beneath it. I was outraged to see post after post from women and men alike blaming Kate for her husband cheating on her. “If she wasn’t such a bitch…” “If she hadn’t emasculated him…” “I’d sleep with someone else if I was married to her too….” I was outraged and reminded why I do not read these magazines or these blogs. But, it did not stop there facebook friends had statuses about how she was a monster, and how they are glad Jon “got out.”
    I was torn! As a feminist do I respond to this victim blaming that is being done? A million responses came to my mind, about how it must be the women’s fault, how of course we would look to HER before we would look to him.
    But I never said anything, I sat with grief for awhile, not one to hold my tongue, I felt it best to duck out of places where conversations about Kate would unfold, I even deleted some facebook friends. Still though, I felt heavy. Can I really let the bashing go on?
    And then at some point it clicked. I am not entirely blameless in this constant conversation about Kate Gosselin. Although I watched her mother her children in adoration, I watched. And I watched the Real Housewives. Yet, I am still livid at how women are presented in the media. Audre Lorde says it best, “…I urge you to tackle what is most difficult for us all, self-scrutinity of our complacencies, the idea that since each of us believe she is on the side of right, she needs not examine her position. I urge you to examine your position”
    Thanks for the reminder that I must continue to examine my position, not simply finger point.

  48. Toni
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    I agree. I’m getting so sick of both of those stories. What really gets me is that the Aniston-Jolie war is fabricated. From what I see, Jen doesn’t really care about Angelina, and doesn’t seem like she ever did.

  49. Cicada Nymph
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    I used to feel a lot of guilt for not being a “perfect feminist”. I don’t anymore. If I find something really offensive it generally kills the enjoyment for me enough that I have no desire to purchase or watch it. There is plenty of stuff that is somewhat sexist that I still consume though (beauty products being one) and I don’t beat myself up about it. Personally, tabloids and most reality tv has never been interesting to me (perhaps in part because I don’t find the portrayal of women in them intriguing) so I don’t consume it because I have no desire to. I don’t feel guilty about what I do, though, (I’m addicted to beauty/fashion mags) because I also subscribe to Mother Jones, purchase Bitch and feminist books and music, etc. I think the main problem are the people who are buying the tabloids and beauty mags and not the more feminist friendly or simply more sexist free products. However, I still can’t muster up that much anger at them because I think their tastes are shaped so much by this culture and advertising. I really don’t think that aware feminists are the ones purchasing only tabloids. Plus, I can walk into any supermarket or gas station and pick up a beauty mag and not a feminist friendly magazine. I would buy it if it was there but it is not. I seek them out later, but sometimes I want something light to look through at that moment. I realize that one of the reasons it is not there is because not enough people would purchase it (though I still think sometimes companies misjudge/ don’t give consumers enough credit and diversity). Basically, as long as I am not purchasing a beauty magazine in place of a feminist one I feel ok.

  50. Interior_League
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    The rules say that one
    is allowed to read trashy
    mags when traveling.

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