Some women's magazines, so intent on selling their readers on having sex, make dubious claims about its health benefits.
Another editor, however, blames her colleagues' "giggly, girlish attitude toward sex," adding: "It's not a bad thing to be playful about it.
They are a formidable cultural force, shaping and reinforcing our attitudes about men and women, orgasms and relationships. Many writers, editors, and fact-checkers involved with these sex articles (most of whom asked that their identities be protected with the top-secrecy accorded Seymour Hersh's CIA sources) agreed that the editorial standards for them are abysmal.
Women's magazines run scrupulously reported and fact-checked articles on such subjects as breast cancer and women under the Taliban. To return to Abraham's blunt characterization: these articles are full of lies.
Laurie Abraham, executive editor of Elle magazine, however, had something else on her mind.
The worst thing about women's magazines, she asserted during the panel discussion, is how much "we lie about sex."Under normal circumstances, a roomful of experienced journalists might rise up in outrage at being called liars.
Standing on line at the grocery store almost anywhere in America, the hapless shopper is bombarded with insistent exhortatory headlines: blow his mind; sexual bliss secrets!
; get his sexual attention instantly; what he's thinking about you ... Perhaps she stands in front of them to prevent her mother or her kid from reading them aloud."Anything that deviates threatens the stability of the universe.They think it will freak out the reader."Cosmo has historically taken a different route, exaggerating to make copy racier.Our shopper might have been all ears at a fall cocktail-hour panel of women's magazine editors, hosted by Mediabistro.com, a media networking organization, and held at Obeca Li, a trendy nouvelle Asian restaurant in lower Manhattan.Audience members, mostly senior-level editors and writers for women's magazines, joined the panelists in voicing many familiar complaints about the industry: too many skinny models, even more emaciated feature stories, and too much advertiser influence on editorial content.But Abraham's statement was met with nods of guilty agreement and mildly embarrassed "tell me something I don't know" shrugs. This is not Watergate, of course, or even Monica-gate.