There should be a rule for students that at least five hours sleep is mandatory before attempting lectures within twenty four hours. On this one fine occasion I ignored my own advice and thought I could fight the yawns, what ensued was an intriguing evening lecture where Ms Hackney’s utterances didn’t quite match up either side of black spots in my memory.
Ms Hackney was presenting from her PhD thesis ‘They Opened Up a Whole New World’: Feminine Modernity and Women’s Magazines, 1919-1939.’ She opened with explaining the role of magazines and their subtle effects on readers. She said that Anderson’s ‘imagined community’ played a vital role to create a sense of familiarity with readers and the magazine creators; it begins to show them how they relate to each other and how they have a mutual understanding on lifestyles. Realising the implications of this concept led me to think about how any magazine could create its own cult just because of the intimacy of shared interests and the diverse distribution that they can obtain.
Moving on from femininity in my mind it would seem that we praise magazines for their services that they provide for our social characteristics in the community. Ms Hackney even professed this point, stating the sections that magazines frequently feature such as sport, home, safety, fashion, etc. They were used as entertainment and a place of reference.
She continued on with how in modern versions of news and magazines we will see ordinary women used more so than celebrities unless it is a feature or specific promotion, although these are balanced with equal ordinary women too. Ordinary being defined as a woman who is not famous or had previous exposure to the press. Her reason was that the use of ordinary will attract ordinary, who make up the vast quantity of the public, and that is where the profit will come.
Hackney stated that magazines were made to the notion of Herrick, 1939 “Sell each page and subject through eye appeal.” This meant that aesthetics would have to be desirable on all levels from the graphics to the model. Obvious it seems but it was important for her later points.
Her thesis though was about the comparison to magazines from the 20s and feminine culture now. She explained to us that married women were actually forced to leave employment if they were married up until the 1950’s due to the ‘marriage bar.’ It was so that the wife could concentrate on keeping her husband happy.
It then went to human rights for equality; with many adverts about careers appearing in all magazines, but Hackney noticed a trend in contemporary articles where housekeeping women were being shown as more inspirational and portrayed similarly to movie stars but in their own homes. Her conclusions of these effects were interesting as it makes us remember what a fight was made to create our balance of men and women careers to now want to return to what was forced upon us by choice.
Hackney, to me, was strategic in her definitions as she presented her thesis, and made valid points throughout.