See Jane sell out
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Once upon a time, like almost every girl I know, I was obsessed with a magazine called Sassy.
It was in the thick of all my dorky preteen glory â€” age 12-ish, Iâ€™d say â€”when i first discovered Jane Prattâ€™s new teen rag. It was the first magazine that talked to teenage girls like they were actual humans, rather than perkily insecure, hearts-and-rainbows-obsessed androids.
Anyway, I read (and loved) Sassy for years. It introduced me to the wonders of riot grrrl, back when said movement was first starting. I still remember the photo that accompanied a Sassy article about that burgeoning punk feminist scene â€” two curvy female bellies with "Heavens to Betsy" and "Bratmobile" scrawled across them. (Later, I went on to love both bands.)
Alas, the mag was eventually bought out â€” and promptly ruined â€” by the idiots that published the ridiculously flourescent Teen mag.
And then there was Jane. A few years after the demise of her baby, Sassy editor/creator Jane Pratt launched a new publication, this time for ladies in the 20-something demographic. Jane was billed as a sort of grown-up Sassy â€” smart, personal, fierce and honest, with an unapologetically feminist sensibility and a pointed disdain for the men-and-sex-centered coverage of other mainstream womenâ€™s rags.
I bought Jane, and liked it for a while â€” until it became increasingly apparent with each passing issue that the mag wasnâ€™t doing what it set out to do. It wasnâ€™t revolutionary; sure, it was blunt, honest and its writers were good sometimes, but it wasnâ€™t contributing anything to feminism or womenâ€™s greater good.
When the ever-amazing, super-sharp Bitch magazine started running a deliciously snarky column called " Jane Petty Criticism Corner," I knew other feminists agreed â€” Jane just didnâ€™t cut it.
So I guess I shouldnâ€™t have been so surprised when I opened the new September '05 issue of Jane in the airport the other day, and found a full-page advertorial â€” helpfully marked PROMOTION â€” encouraging women to enlist in the US Army.
The ad, paid for by the US Army Reserve, is headlined "Can I have your job?" and it features snapshots and ass-kissy blurbs about "full-fledged Sargeant" Magda Khalifa.
The smiling, happy Khalifaâ€™s job â€” as a "real-life US Army reserve big shot" â€” is described as "covetous," and Khalifa (or Janeâ€™s marketing writers who pretended to be her) rattles off the benefits of fighting for our country.
Some choice nuggets:
One of the projects I really liked [in Iraq] was setting up an Internet cafe...E-mail and cell phone services are growing there now. Under Saddam, they were very limited with what they could do. Itâ€™s like being part of history.
Oh, and this piece of pro-war propoganda disguised as feel-good, "go girl" feminism:
Saying you can handle weaponry impresses people. You definitely score cool girl points!...Iâ€™m an advocate of arming women with as many tools as they can have to be successul and competitive in whichever career they choose. The Army Reserve has enabled me to develop and test all these traits. I just canâ€™t say enough about it!
I just canâ€™t decide what makes me sicker: the fact that Jane editors OK-ed this ad, published this ad and, from the looks of it, actually wrote this ad â€” or the fact that the oh-so-special Sargeant Khalifa, who was foolish enough to enlist "after 9/11 helped underline [her] decision," doesnâ€™t once acknowlege how lucky she is not to have come home in a body bag from Bushâ€™s big bad bullshit war.
Color me completely disgusted.
Laura Barcella is an Associate Editor at AlterNet.