President Obama wrote a piece on Feminism for Glamour magazine.
Curious minds want to know why that specific magazine. Here is whom the magazine is for, according to its owner Conde Nast: “Glamour is for the woman who sets the direction of her own life and lives it to its fullest and chicest. Her point-of-view is unmistakably American, unwavering in its optimism and wide open to the possibilities ahead. The dream job, the perfect look, the right guy: All are in her reach.”
How would writing in that magazine ensure the article gets read by men, someone asked. Legit question.
Here is how.
Several media outlets men might read – Vox (under Policy and Politics, no less), New York Times, Rolling Stone, Time, and many others – have picked up and paraphrased the essay’s main ideas for easy reading by men. Obama thus neatly sidestepped men wondering why he is lecturing to them and got a standing ovation from women for his approach as a Dad.
And yet he is getting heard by men, as the conversation on those paraphrased articles shows. Several men are commenting on these paraphrased pieces that while they disagree with Obama politically, as fathers of young women, they agree with him completely on this matter. This is not a surprise. Research evidence shows that when daughters are born, men change their attitudes to traditional gender roles for women. Indeed many young women may be making their dads read the article. There is also the possibility that Hillary Clinton’s popularity among young women could get a boost from this, because he spoke with them but not quite at them by referencing his daughters in the essay.
There is more to this than meets the eye though. More than Obama. More than feminism.
There is a quiet but firm change happening in the magazine world. And so-called millennials are leading it. With guidance and nurture from older, steadier, more experienced hands in the trade.
Here is a Teen Vogue piece on a young woman, presumably a teenager, on how she became a feminist. Here is a piece on how queer identity may make a person a target for violence, and another on how American culture fuels homo and trans phobia.
Glamour and Teen Vogue are not magazines common prejudices about “girlie mags” allow us to expect to do a great job of hosting and enabling such discourse on identity. But they are doing it. Anna Wintour, the tour de force in Conde Nast, is guiding a team of millennials which is doing a great job getting the unfairly reviled younger persons reading serious stuff. In other words, emergent generations are being engaged using old fashioned tools.
Their views have a platform. Their voices are being amplified by “curation” led websites that “grownups” read. Change is quietly happening, while we are too busy stereotyping millennials and younger generations.
The revolution, it is clear, is not being televised.
It is being written and read and discussed on channels that allegedly responsible adults dismiss as pointless, past-it, dying or any number of hand-waving adjectives.
Be there, or be square.
And Obama is no square, as we all know by now.