Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Where in the world is Jane Pratt?

Andi Zeisler's chapters "Pop and Circumstance: Why Pop Culture Matters" and "Women Under the Influence: Pop Culture Now and Beyond" in her book Feminism and Pop Culture speaks about why it is important to view television, music, film, news and other media with a feminist perspective. What was most noticeable in these chapters was the aspect of confusion and dissonance over what feminism means today. This fact, combined with Jane Arthurs statements on women's magazines (specifically her implication that they are made up of "fashion spreads [and lists] of ten tips to improve foreplay") in the Sex and the City article, made me realize how much I miss Jane Pratt and Jane Magazine.
In the late 1980's/ early 1990's, Jane Pratt was the founding editor of teen magazine, Sassy. Sassy's appeal was based on its clever, no bullshit content that was the complete opposite of every other teen magazine at the time ( and now). Sassy folded in 1994, and I, being about 6 years old at this time, never really had the chance to appreciate it (though I was lucky enough to have an older sister and cousin with tons of old issues that I inherited once i hit about 10.) But my adolescence was marked by a different Jane Pratt vehicle, Jane Magazine.
Jane was more mainstream and commercial than Sassy, but that's kind of what was great about it, it was accessible. Furthermore, Jane wasn't terribly concerned with was feminist or not, or what it meant to be a so called "good feminist", instead it talked about great music, news, world issues and one night stands all while trying to sell you a gucci jacket you can't afford and don't really want, and it made no apologies for it. In 2005, Pratt left Jane Magazine and in 2007, after 10 years of print, Jane Magazine folded. And while it was probably for the best as it really did start to suck after Jane Pratt left, I still miss flipping though the pages of a new issue. Jane had a sense of humor, a conscience, keen insight and great taste in fashion, and while some critics have said that Janewas too commercial and could never live up to the expectations that Sassy created, I didn't care, because it was mine. I feel like that is what is directly lacking in today's culture and is much of the problem described in Zeisler's book. Though there are other magazines and blogs dealing with similar issues, Zeisler herself is the co-founder of feminist mag Bitch, there seems to be a lack of connection and real identification with these magazines. And that really sucks, because Jane magazine and my identification with it helped shape a lot of my ideals and I'm not sure if I would be the same if I had not had it.

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