Where are the women in Rolling Stone?

I no longer live in the United States, but I have some of my US magazines forwarded to me because I’ve never quite gotten the hang of reading magazines on an e-reader. For me the experience of a magazine has to do with being able to flip around and read whatever catches my eye. An e-reader is too linear, somehow, too much of a commitment.

 When I moved out of New York two years ago, I sorted through subscriptions, weighing what should be forward to us out here and what should be canceled. One of the mags that made the cut was Rolling Stone, not only for Matt Taibi’s depressingly accurate reportage but also because without some awareness of “new” music, I will continue to listen to music that is A) leftover from my youth, which is now an uncomfortable number of decades away; or B) condoned by my children, which dooms me to a steady diet of “Glee” covers, Katy Perry, or Macklemore.

 But after the most recent issue, I’m thinking of canceling my subscription.

This thought has crossed my mind before, when issues have arrived with covers featuring female singers in various stages of undress, but this last issue stunned me, even though the cover features four fully clad people: Seth Rogen and his buddies, the stars of “This Is The End.”

Here’s what stunned me: a person could read the entire magazine cover to cover, including the ads and think that that the entire United States was exclusively populated by lots and lots of stoned men and only four women: one who wants to be Beyonce,  one who was in a band with Beyonce, one who was a role model for Beyonce, and Beyonce herself.

You think I’m kidding?

In order of appearance in this issue (June 20):

  • On the cover: four movie stars who may or may not be stoned
  • Inside, two ads: one featuring the “Man of Steel” and selling razors; the other selling Bacardi rum, with a picture of Emilio Bacardi
  • In the table of contents, passport-sized pictures of Darlene Love, Kelly Rowland (in a band with Beyonce), and Beyonce
  • An article about three guys from SNL who have made it big
  • A one-page article about Demi Lovato (the Beyonce wannabe), featuring a photo of her with tousled hair and an unzipped leather jacket (and nothing underneath)
  • An article about the all-male band The National
  • An appreciation for the recently deceased Ray Manzarek
  • An articles about Elvis Costello and Quest Love, and another article about Vince Vaughn
  • In the “Notes” section (the Rolling Stone equivalent of a gossip column): photos and comments about Skrillex, Justin Bieber, Rod Stewart, Daft Punk (two guys in helmets), Rick Ross, Paul McCartney, Keith Richards and Johnny Depp, Harry Styles, and the Followill brothers. All of them are wearing clothes. Two small photos of women appeared in the “Notes” section: Britney Spears in a bikini; and Miley Cyrus, Madonna, and Ke$ha--none of whom is wearing much clothing--talking together at the Billboard Music Awards.
  • An article about John Oliver
  • A long article about the stoner guys on the cover—Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, etc—and how brilliantly funny their movie is because it’s like these stoner versions of these actors sort of playing themselves. Plus? The apocalypse! Plus? Lots of pot! So it’s like totally hysterical.
  • A series of articles about pot in the United States, including features about several of the important men involved in the debate about legalizing marijuana
  • A very short article about “Dr Dina” (a woman) who dispenses medical marijuana
  • A short article about the redemption of Darlene Love (the Beyonce role model)
  • A eighth of a page blub about a new single from Beyonce (not wearing much in the way of clothing)
  • An ad featuring a scantily clad woman on a skateboard
  • A review of the movie “The Bling Ring,” with a promo picture from the movie that features the mostly female cast, mostly wearing short skirts and high heels
  • A series of ads in the back of the magazine for sound equipment, recording studios, and adult toys (with pictures of women in various states of disrobedness).

To recap: men are stoned, clothed, and important enough to be written about. Women are mostly not stoned, mostly not clothed, and not worth much ink.

Yeah. Definitely canceling my subscription.



Deborah Quinn


twitter: @mannahattamamma


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