Friday, June 13, 2014

TIME is changing?

Some things change... and some things stay the same...

We subscribe to TIME magazine weekly and scanning some of the cover pages over the last two to three months, several 'themes' emerge. One I want you to guess with reference to the highlighted three. It is not difficult.

The spread of covers illustrates this too. Other than the
predominance of red there is one strong and consistent theme throughout the ten-week period of TIME pictured here, with a couple of copies missing. And that theme is 'gender difference', might be the nicest way to put it.

In the ten-week period of TIME only two covers showed a female and they showed just one each, Beyonce and Li Na. So two women precisely, to virtually the rest of the covers for that period, which is ten. Occasionally they don't picture a human on the cover, but in all that time of TIME they did. Eight males and two females have appeared on the cover of TIME since mid-April.

Already that amounts to significant GENDER discrimination.

The other stark discrimination is the appearance of the female body half clad in the only two images of women, whereas the males are all, without exception, fully dressed. None of the males are particularly 'good-looking' using conventional measures, some are just the head and shoulders. None are pictured full-bodied and all are engaged in some work-related behaviour or pose.

None of this positive imaging is true for Beyonce and Li Na. Both of these front-page women are pictured full-bodied, with next to nothing on, and both, most brazenly of all, are arranged in shamelessly sexual poses. The tennis champion and the singer/songwriter alike are both pictured sexually.

This proves a few things. One: racial difference is nothing to gender difference. Regardless of the varied races pictures on these eight front covers, in all the men work and/or the women seduce with the allure of difference, regardless of context. The men are represented much more as they are. Most are in work clothes: suits; combat uniform, etc. The women are made into something other than they are; something sexual.

This said, TIME has been steadily improving its gender representation record, with this year's Top 100 most important people including 45% women. This is far higher than even twenty years ago when you would be lucky to have had five women in the top 100.

However, when the first of those women this year is Beyonce, dressed in her underwear with her hand placed nearer to her crutch than it would naturally fall and her see-through skirt hitched up to reveal her most private part represented in tight white cotton close-up, I would say that this percentage gain does not necessarily represent substantive gains in the way men and women are valued, at least in this organisation, which just happens to have the power to travel to every part of the world and act as a predominant cultural gatekeeper and/or pioneer.

These covers of TIME show clearly that weomen are still far too sexualised and represented as 'women' when men just get to be people; individuals. It shows women are not in charge, no matter how much we kid ourselves that we are.

Gender progress is slow and inconsistent. TIME is much more 'female-friendly' than it used to be but there is a sense in which they still see themselves as a 'man's magazine'. This is fine; just don't call yourselves TIME.

(apologies for the looooong post).

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