A recent Cosmopolitan.com lead story, “How the GOP’s Block of the Minimum Wage Bill Hurts Women,” was hard to miss at the top of the homepage — it was in bright pink under “Must Read!” and was directly above the headline, “4 Problems All Women With Big Boobs Have While Shopping.”
Anyone who still claims women’s magazines are harmless when it comes to politics should take a look. Conservatives in particular must go where the battles are to win women, and that includes women’s magazines with headlines on diet tricks, guy tips and fashion styles because that’s not all that is in them. Despite none of the major categories listed on the Cosmopolitan.com navigational toolbar (Relationships, Celebs, Beauty & Fashion, Health and Work) mentioning politics, politics seeps in, sometimes covertly and sometimes more obviously.
And Cosmopolitan is increasingly entering the political realm. In April, Cosmopolitan announced that it hired Feministe blogger and Guardian columnist Jill Filipovic to cover politics. In her first article in this role, she begins by hitting hard on Republicans:
In case Republicans hadn’t made their view of women clear in their crusades against contraception and their closure of abortion clinics, they’ve moved from your uterus to your pocketbook. First came their unanimous rejection of a bill that would have guaranteed equal pay for women. And yesterday, Senate Republicans blocked a measure that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, up from the current rate of $7.25. That legislation would have allowed women across the United States to earn a livable wage, narrow the pay gap, and keep their families above water.
Cosmopolitan should hire someone to write a response piece, or if not, at least disclose that it is a mouthpiece for liberal policies and the Democratic Party.
A response piece would debate a number of her points.
Though Filipovic is right that economic policies, such as the minimum wage, are women’s issues, she doesn’t acknowledge how raising the wage results in job loss and therefore can harm the same people it’s supposedly trying to help. As any good shopper knows, when something costs more, you can buy fewer of them. And in fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that if the minimum wage went up to $10.10 as proposed, 500,000 jobs would be eliminated. Where is the sympathy for the hardship these women will face?
Then comes equal pay legislation. She repeats the debunked line that women make just 77 cents for a dollar a man makes. This is willfully misleading. Even feminist Hanna Rosin wrote that using the number in this way doesn’t add up, because that statistic doesn’t take into account the differences in hours worked, industries chosen, and years of experience. In a much talked-about press conference, Jay Carney acknowledged this while justifying why the White House itself has a considerable wage gap under the 77-cent logic used by Filipovic.
What’s worse is that Filipovic directly bashes the Republican Party. She writes, “The Republican Party serves two distinct but sometimes overlapping factions: Big corporate interests and social conservatives.” Apparently, that’s it. She doesn’t take into account people who choose the Republican Party because they believe that limiting government’s power is the best way to preserve liberty and help Americans. It wasn’t that long ago that Americans elected a Republican president, and Republicans control the House today. In caricaturing what the GOP stands for, she dismisses a huge part of the population.
The Republican Party is aware it has work to do when it comes to women. The Growth and Opportunity Project report, an autopsy on what went wrong in 2012 released by the Republican National Committee, noted that President Barack Obama won women by 11 points and he won single women, who make up 40 percent of female voters, by 36 percent.
With stories like this one on Cosmopolitan.com, it is no wonder that the Republican Party is having a difficult time winning over single women. But Republicans cannot give up — we need to call out blatant bias wherever we see it, and make sure that women’s magazine readers are also getting the other side of the story.
Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum and founder and president of the Network of enlightened Women.