Magazines: I Ain’t No Hollaback Girl—Street Harassment in CLEO.

 

I recently moved to Kensington, on the west side of Melbourne, from Richmond.

I’ve been out of the house only a few times since then, jogging, going to the supermarket, train station etc., and I’ve already been honked at twice.

I haven’t been honked at for awhile. I think the last time was in Craigieburn (an outer suburb north west of Melbourne) when I was going to the dentist. Or maybe it was back in my hometown in country Victoria.

It was about 6:30am on a summer morning so it was already quite light and I wanted to get my jog out of the way before it got too hot. There’s a lake near my mum’s house, and there were ducks all over the bridge. There weren’t many people around—pedestrians or drivers—but some hoon came around the corner, saw me jogging, and decided to show off, revving his car. I looked back because he was heading in the direction of the lake, but he must have thought I was looking back at him, which only encouraged his sophomoric antics, and he sped off, right into the congregation of ducks. After he was gone, I went back to see if he’d hit any. He had. With such velocity that the body of the duck was on one side of the bridge; its sack of internal organs on the other.

Street harassment is not only juvenile and sexist, but a danger to animals, too!

CLEO’s latest issue has a feature on this very phenomenon.

It runs with the premise of the website Hollaback, which got its start in New York City in 2005, and charts areas where women most experience street harassment. You can also upload photos of offenders, who are monitored for repeat indiscretions.

The article, by deputy features editor Rebecca Whish, also asks if kicking up a stink over street harassment is “an overreaction”. According to 12% of CLEO readers polled, they feel flattered when yelled or honked at on the street.

While I don’t feel offended when men leer, honk or yell at me (with the exception of animal endangerment and pure objectification by friends/coworkers), I don’t particularly see it as a compliment either. The type of guys who do these things aren’t the type I’m seeking compliments from. If anything, it’s more about having the right to go about your daily business without being harassed while doing it.

Is that too much to ask?

Related: Will Boys Be Boys When it Comes to Objectifying Women?

Elsewhere: [Hollaback] Homepage.

TV: Paper Giants–The Birth of Cleo Review.

 

Asher Keddie has never been my favourite actress. So I wasn’t particularly looking forward to her portrayal of magazine mogul Ita Buttrose in ABC’s Paper Giants.

However, after watching both episodes online on Good Friday, I’m now a Keddie convert.

If you’ve read any of the myriad of positive reviews of the miniseries, you’ll know that Keddie gets the Ita lisp down perfectly.

But Keddie gives off a different air to Ita (granted, I’m only really familiar with The Morning Show and etiquette Ita, not the golden age of magazines Ita), though, and really makes the role her own.

Film-wise, the imagery embodies the ’70s perfectly (’cause I was alive then and all!) and harkens back to simpler times, when the printers baulked at having to change their formatting to accommodate the patented Cleo sealed section, saying it couldn’t be done!

Though the role of women was going through an upheaval at the time, and Cleo paved the way for women of that generation.

I found it funny and quite poignant that women like Ita and her assistant Leslie, played by Jessica Tovey, were working to change the status of women through their magazine, while privately their lives were in shambles: Leslie tries to take on the role of sexually empowered woman, experimenting with role play, fantasy and sex toys, but still stays with her unenlightened fiancé Muz, while maintaining an affair with a senior co-worker, who refuses to leave his wife for her. And before Ita’s husband, Mac, leaves her raising one child and pregnant with another, the film juxtaposes Ita arriving home from a long day at the office that included being rebuffed for a loan without the permission of her husband with asking Mac if he’d like onions with his steak, which she immediately begins making.

At this juncture, the Cleo girls raise the notion of Superwoman, and if she actually exists; a debate modern feminists are still grappling with.

My favourite parts of the miniseries, apart from Keddie as Ita, and Rob Carlton as Kerry Packer, was its ability to poke fun at the present day, such as a dig at Time Out magazine, and how it will “never take off” and a Cleo girl asking, “Who’s Paul Keating?”

Related: “Cultural Talking Points”: How Does Jackie O’s “Bad Parenting” Relate to Hunting?

Has Feminism Failed?

Images via Facebook, ABC.

Magazines: Everything They Touch Turns to Gold.

 

Sometimes I look back at some of my favourite editions of magazines like Girlfriend and Cosmopolitan and think, they’re not what they used to be.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re still great mags changing the glossy face of Australia, what with Girlfriend’s Girlfriend of the Year, Think. Do. Be. Positive and I Delete Bullies and Cosmo’s Body Love campaigns.

My favourite issue ever of Girlfriend (and at almost 23, should I even be reading this magazine anymore?!) was back in November 2007, with Indiana Evans fronting the mag.

And, while I will always be a Cosmo girl, I’m struggling to get as excited about the mag as I was when I first started reading it seven years ago. I was lucky enough to get a taste of Mia Freedman’s editorial skills before she left the mag soon after, and have been a sucker for her ever since.

Only now am I starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together as to why Girlfriend, in particular, meant so much to me during that time.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and former Girlfriend staffer herself (more on that in a minute), recently blogged about current Cleo editor Sarah Oakes’ resignation and subsequent appointment as Sunday Life (Fairfax’s Sunday newspaper supplement) editor, and thank God she did!

I am now able to prepare myself to love Cleo a little less, and Sunday Life a little more. Much like falling out of love with Girlfriend around the time Oakes left, and falling fast for Cleo, especially following its recent redesign.

For my money, Oakes is the next Freedman, and I will buy anything she puts her name to.

I became familiar with her whilst she was editing the teen mag, which I began to read again at about age 18. Admittedly, I was out of the mag’s target audience age range, but the left-of-centre features, quirky crafts and “Click It” pages exposed me to a whole new internet world, comprising of Etsy stores, Gossip Girl fashions, creative projects and so much more.

Back when I was pursuing my magazine dreams, Girlfriend was a mag I wanted to internand eventually be paid to workat.

Then Oakes moved over to Cleo, and I immediately felt the shift in the quality of the content. Cleo used to be a magazine I felt I’d wasted my money on after purchasing, but it slowly surpassed all other magazines on my must-have list. I’ll be sad to see her leave, but glad that I now get my Sarah fix weekly, and for free! (Well, at the low $2 price of The Age.)

It’s no secret that the aforementioned Girl with a Satchel is a blog I frequent regularly; a blog that I have written for, and a blog that inspired me to start my own.

I think Bartle is a clever, self-deprecating and an “everywoman” writer, perhaps in the vein of Oakes and Freedman. Considering Bartle worked on Girlfriend during Oakes’ editorship, it’s hardly a surprise. (As I said, I have a soft spot for the “Click It” pages, which Bartle was responsible for compiling.) She has a knack for making the reader feel like they’re besties, or BFFs, or whatever it is the cool kids call it, and although I would merely call us sometime-collaborators/fellow bloggers, I sometimes wish we were.

Its no surprise the magazine world is a small, incestuous little family, and the same names usually pop up all over the place, from ACP to Pacific, and now, to the blogosphere. (As Bartle writes, Cosmo features editor Caelia Corse is now heading over to Women’s Health, which is edited by fellow former Cosmo girl, Felicity Harley nee Percival.) And I think it’s safe to say that the output of quality writers that readers can relate to may be due to the nurturing and mentorship of some great editors; in addition to the Oakes-Bartle dynamic, Lisa Wilkinson was the editor of Cleo when Freedman got her break, who then went on to mentor Harley and Freedman’s successor Sarah Wilson at Cosmo, and Wilson’s successor, current Cosmo editor Bronwyn McCahon. Phew!

As much as many people who write-off the magazine industry as fashion, beauty, diet and pop culture poppycock (many of my friends do, but they read this blog anyway ’cause they love me!), there’s no denying that it does attract many of Australia’s best female (and male) writers, and with the help of the seasoned and talented editors who’ve come before them, there’s certainly a bloodline of glossy (and bloggy, and newspapery) flair that is being secreted by the Australian magazine industry.