So what do the new women’s magazines tell us about the New Woman? Three new publications have appeared more or less simultaneously Jane, Sports Illustrated Women/Sport, and Conde Nast Sports for Women vying for distaff mind share and the almighty Clairol advertising dollar. My conclusions thus far:
New Woman much like the Old Woman: I’ve been savoring the debut issue of Jane, the hot new Disney-Fairchild rag that seems to be targeting the same demographic group that GQ goes after men trolling for second wives. Only Jane targets women. The eponymous Jane is 34-year-old editor Jane Pratt, a twice-failed talk show hostess, whom The Wall Street Journal dubs “a firecracker who has made more noise than money.”
Here’s Jane’s dazzlingly original editorial formula: fashion/sex/ makeup/relationships/hair/sex/celebrity/sex/workplace/spas/men/ nutrition/sex. In 246 advertising-choked pages, I spotted three flashes of semi-originality.
1. “It Happened to Me,” a grown-up version of YM’s terrific “Say Anything” column. Instead of menstrual mishaps, Jane showcases the unpleasant consequences of testifying in a sexual harassment case. 2. “Fashion Isn’t Brain Surgery,” a brief essay on fashion by … a brain surgeon. 3. Posing as a personal assistant to John F. Kennedy Jr., Kato Kaelin and others, a Jane staffer tries to score complimentary tickets to an upcoming U2 concert. John-John and Carolyn get All Access passes.
As for the K-Man: “We’re so sorry, Mr. Kaelin, but we don’t have any more tickets to give away.”
And this fashion tip: “Brown is the new black.” How odd that Pratt chose this moment to dye her naturally brown hair blonde.
Even New Women Have to Eat: Jane prints six recipes, most of them elementary. The current issue of Good Housekeeping has 23.
Articles in Jane you won’t find in Good Housekeeping: “I Hate the Spice Girls”; “Helium May be an Acquired Taste.” Helium is a Boston band.
Vice Versa: “Pet Insurance; Is it Worth It?”; “Does Pre-Treating with Detergent Work?”
Jane celebrity interview: “Did you know there’s a fish in Belize that can reproduce with itself? That’s so groovy and empowering.” - Drew Barrymore.
GH celebrity interview: “I am more balanced because of David and the children” - Michelle Pfeiffer.
Conde Nast Sports for Women celebrity interview that could run in GH: “It’s funny, I have a very psychotic, wild side, but I also love knitting.” - Tea Leoni. (On second thought, maybe not.)
Jane Advertisers You Won’t Find in the Women’s Sports Mags: Virgina Slims, Misty Light Slims, Parliament Lights, Kamel Cigarettes, Skyy Vodka.
Old Woman Asks: “When my husband and I first met, we made out all the time. Why doesn’t he like to make out anymore? Are most guys like this once they’re married?” - Redbook.
New Woman asks: “I have been told that lifting free weights can stunt your growth. Should I continue weightlifting?” - Sports Illustrated Women/Sport.
Jane Considers Men to Be: Meat SIS/W Considers Men to Be: Competition Redbook Considers Men to Be: Potential ex-husbands.
Jane Road-Tests: Cellulite creams, stiletto pumps.
Conde Nast Sports for Women Road-Tests: Running shoes.
Woman’s Day Road-Tests: Seven versatile new chicken recipes.
Somehow Jane Missed This: SI Women/Sport chronicles success stories of pregnant athletes, including ultramarathoner Sue Olsen, who competed in a 24-hour race 30 hours before giving birth to a baby boy.
The Jane Poll Asks: If readers would consider being a surrogate mother. (Yes: 33 percent)
The Conde Nast Poll Asks: Would you let your date beat you in sports, even though you’re better? (Yes: 5 percent)
The New Woman Poll Asks: Do men want more sex? (Yes: 70 percent.)
Firm Butt, Then: Alternate-leg kicks, vertical scissors, jumping jacks - McCall’s
Firm Butt, Now: In-line skating. “You feel it in your butt right away,” champion Peggy Tillinghast tells Conde Nast.
Scorpio Rising: “People may get disgruntled by your successes in September but by October they’ll all be begging for a piece of your cake.” - my horoscope in Jane.
Or Is It? “A group you belong to or a project you’re working on is central to you this month.” - my horoscope in McCall’s.
The Original New Woman not so New: New Woman magazine (slogan: “Dare to be You”) is 27 years old.