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November 22, 2009 6:14 PM   Subscribe

My wife reads my Esquire and Wired magazines and is looking for a print magazine strong enough for a man but PH balanced for a woman.

She says she reads about 80% of Wired and 60% of Esquire (but is usually irked by the fact that any women on the pages are mostly naked). She tried Vanity Fair but was put off by the "society page" elements around New England/NYC money. Vogue, Cosmo, Marie Claire, Elle and etc are not it. Nor are Oprah or Martha Stewart.

I suggested Bust but while that was partway there, it has elements of indie rock/Riot Grrl and "this is how you embroider a hipster jean jacket with cassette tapes" that aren't really up her alley.

She's looking for something that is about 3 photo shoots and articles from Vanity Fair, 2 pages of Lucky, one tip from Real Simple, 3 tech/culture/gadget articles each from Wired and Esquire, a health article from Prevention, a smattering of political information (especially around issues involving women, but not overly militaristic), an overview of 5 TV shows worth watching, a new book or two to read and 2 new bands to check out.

No haute coture, no scrawny models, no articles about New England royalty, no gossip about Jon and Kate, not much/any craft or sewing...just a smart magazine for smart women. Does it exist?
posted by Overzealous to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Bitch is pretty great, but I think that Vanity-Fair-with-the-offending-pages-torn-out (no biggie, it's just ads on the other side anyway) sounds like it might be closest to what she wants.
posted by box at 6:19 PM on November 22, 2009

Bitch or Ms. are pretty good
posted by KokuRyu at 6:29 PM on November 22, 2009

You know, I just went through Wikipedia's entire list of women's magazines after not being able to think of anything that fits your criteria, and I'm still coming up short. I think that most intelligent woman-centric discourse is being done online now, through venues like XX and Jezebel (to an extent).

As someone who hates the frenemy jabs of Cosmo and the mom-ness of O, I find myself enjoying a lot of more specific magazines: Lucky (for practical fashion), Harper's Bazaar (for high fashion/escapism), Vanity Fair (for some woman-focused intellectualism [and, yes, the New England royalty]), and Real Simple (for home advice free of Martha Stewart affectations). Sounds like your wife already reads most, if not all, of those-- maybe she could start a monthly best-of-print-magazines blog. I'd read it.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:31 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

How about Utne Reader?
posted by birdsquared at 6:59 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

The New Yorker? The articles are varied enough to hit all of her criteria, minus photoshoots and household tips. And it definitely doesn't have the gloss and eye-candy of a ladies' magazine, though. The New Yorker + Real Simple do it for me.
posted by pintapicasso at 7:31 PM on November 22, 2009 [4 favorites]

I think a magazine for smart women would have a lot of overlap with one for smart people, regardless of gender. So: Scientific American, The New Yorker, Harpers, and The Economist.
posted by zippy at 7:33 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

How about More? It's billed as for the over-40 woman, and though i'm only just barely in that category, I find that it's pretty much chock full of interesting stuff.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:48 PM on November 22, 2009

I doubt there's a perfect solution out there. But Women's Health is surprisingly enjoyable and has a little of a lot of what your wife wants. It's not terribly jock-ish, and is reasonably smart. I also like Glamour; it's not pure fluff although there is a lot of fun in there. I also like Utne but it's not expressly for women.
posted by n'muakolo at 7:58 PM on November 22, 2009

Some of what you describe used to be in Entertainment magazine. I last read it a while ago, so I don't know if it's good anymore, but you might take a look.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:59 PM on November 22, 2009

er, Entertainment Weekly.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:00 PM on November 22, 2009

New Yorker might do it.
posted by sully75 at 8:01 PM on November 22, 2009

I'd have to say the New Yorker too. My tastes are kind of similar, and I read it almost cover to cover every week. It's not as gendered as Esquire, though. IF she's looking for a consistent female perspective, New Yorker won't provide that exactly.

I'm a magazine junkie, and I can't think of anything that fills this bill. The women's magazine market is segmented in a fine-grained way that doesn't happen with men's magazines; there are different magazines for every age bracket from about 15-65, and different ones for stay-at-home moms, high-end corporadas, fashionistas, self-help folks, affluent suburban women, etc. IT's a problem of the specificity of the women's market, not a problem originating with your wife.

Bust is too young and too committed to seeming 'edgy' in a safe way. I actually surprise myself by liking Oprah, but I read it selectively. Glamour used to make inroads at being serious, but they've gotten extremely teeny-boppery. Allure combines beauty and fashion reporting with serious-global-issue reporting, but there's something off about this mix. There doesn't seem to be a good general-interest women's magazine in the same way that Esquire is a general-interest men's magazine.
posted by Miko at 8:16 PM on November 22, 2009

I like The Atlantic. There are usually one or two "women's interest" type articles in there -- sometimes I find them a bit irksome, but they are almost always interesting (see Lori Gottlieb's piece on why women should "settle"). I kind of can't sand Sandra Tsing Loh though.

I (mostly) like The New Yorker, but they consistently carry ads for berets and bowties, and so it goes without saying that they can be insufferable at times. Also, no one at the New Yorker has an anus.

I like Women's Health and Glamour too. They're not exactly intellectually rigorous, but they pass the time in a pleasant way. And I don't feel like they talk to you like you're a 15 year old idiot.
posted by imalaowai at 8:17 PM on November 22, 2009

I came to recommend Vanity Fair or the New Yorker, but if the small amount of "society page elements around New England/NYC money" in Vanity Fair put her off, she'll choke and die on the New Yorker.

I haven't read Women's Health, but Men's Health often surprises me with the quality and number of articles about travel, science, nature etc.
posted by rokusan at 8:47 PM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]

She might also like Best Life magazine, which is affiliated with Men's Health.
posted by Ashley801 at 8:54 PM on November 22, 2009

What she is looking for might be Mademoiselle, which went out of business in 2001. Why doesn't she just skip the society parts of VF? They're not hard to ignore, especially if you read it online.

I second the Atlantic and the New Yorker (which is snobby but not actually obsessed with high society).

I have not-bad memories of Women's Health, and Shape and Self are not terrible either (their models are healthy). Nothing intellectual though.
posted by acidic at 9:06 PM on November 22, 2009

rokusan: but if the small amount of "society page elements around New England/NYC money" in Vanity Fair put her off, she'll choke and die on the New Yorker.

I actually find that the New Yorker has a lot less of the society-page stuff than Vanity Fair ... maybe the Talk of the Town section has a little bit of it, and some of the cartoons seem to be in-jokes for the Hamptons, but overall it's not too much of that scene. Maybe it was more like that back in Tina Brown's day; I didn't read it then. While some of the New Yorker's reviews are of NYC-based art shows or theater productions or restaurants, it's mostly just a smartly written mag for people of any social class and in any geographic location.
posted by lisa g at 9:14 PM on November 22, 2009

If your wife finds a magazine like the one you describe, i wanna know. It would pretty much be my ideal.

I read a combo of Fast Company, Psychology Today, NY Mag and Marie Claire, and get pretty much the mix your wife wants.

- Fast Company is pretty gender-neutral and is less techy than Wired.
- Psychology Today is way less 'scientific' than you'd think from the title. It gives me the personal side of womens magazines ('advice'), but without assuming that i need to keep my man, and without the word sexpert in there.
- NY Mag is just a good non-snobby culture mag. I mostly read it online, but it's available everywhere. (I live in toronto.)
- Marie claire recently revamped itself to be a lot more intelligent. It's no Economist or anything, but it has some good articles about politics (etc), along with some of the fun stuff that i like about women's magazines, without talking down to me. It's probably the closest women's mag to an Esquire.

That being said: when i really want to read the magazine your wife wants, i buy a GQ.
posted by Kololo at 9:43 PM on November 22, 2009

I also read Toronto Life - my city's "all round appeal to adults" magazine. Maybe your city has something similar?
posted by Kololo at 9:46 PM on November 22, 2009

Best answer: I'm a magazine junky as well and I can't think of anything that fits the bill to a T. There are a few magazines that haven't been mentioned I'd recommend taking a look at in the nearest bookstore (or other place with a lot of magazines) that could potentially be your wife's cup of tea.

- Cabinet Magazine: Smart, arty magazine with a wide variety of articles. Each issue has a theme. Check it out, it might just hit the spot.

- Monocle: I pick it up sometimes for airplane rides, all kinds of things, from business to design to culture to the occasional long-form comic. Aimed at travelers.

- Virginia Quarterly Review: Just a damn good magazine.

- The Believer: Artsy, literary, sometimes focusing on traditional women's subjects.

None of these are really what your wife is looking for but they might fit slightly better.
posted by Kattullus at 11:25 PM on November 22, 2009

Best answer: Monocle?
posted by iviken at 11:32 PM on November 22, 2009

Your wife just described my dream magazine, and it doesn't exist and it's total bullshit. Maybe Jane magazine could have filled that role if it weren't so obnoxiously narcissistic, or Vogue if it weren't so...obnoxiously narcissistic. Instead, we have a million Maxim analogues, but nothing of real substance. SOMEONE start this magazine!
posted by granted at 12:32 AM on November 23, 2009

So weird, just yesterday I was complaining to my fiance about how I couldn't find a magazine to read at the train station. Everything was gossiping about celebrities, telling you you're fat, or you're clothes are not fashionable enough or all of that packaged with a bottle of free nail polish. It sucked.

I'll admit, I did want the nail polish. If I were pushed, I would have bought Glamour. I have this weird feeling it's gotten less trashy in the last 5 years or so. Or I could be mixing it up with Cosmo. Anyway, that's usually the one I buy when I have a flight.

Someone really should start this magazine or create a blog like oinopaponton suggested. I'd totally read it.
posted by like_neon at 1:49 AM on November 23, 2009

Best answer: i enjoy esquire and wired, and i also like the new yorker, atlantic monthly, and texas monthly (i don't live in texas, but the writing is great and varied). the oxford american, if you can find it, is great, and you know what, i enjoy a vogue every now and again. also, the week is excellent--it's a digest of the week's best journalism from top publications around the country.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:27 AM on November 23, 2009

I know it is pedestrian, but it sounds like she is describing Newsweek or Time. I subscribe to Newsweek, and find that it goes deeper than most, without the mini-novel navelgazing articles that never end. At least for the political, health, celebrity, entertainment needs. They do techy stuff too, but not nearly in the technology-as-porn manner that the "mens" magazines do. I find that they go out of their way to include reasonable viewpoints from all facets of the political spectrum. (Fareed Zacaria (I'm sure I butchered that...) and George Will are good examples. They both have excellent research teams and writing skills. I don't often agree with the conclusions they draw, but they are fair about the evidence they present.)

As far as the photoshoots from Vanity Fair requirement goes, what is she looking for out of that aspect? Enjoying the photography as art, or enjoying the subject of the photography (IE, beautiful men and women)? National Geographic is pretty damn good for really cool photography. If it's more about enjoying the human form, I'd bet there is a niche-oriented photography magazine that fits that bill perfectly.

And for more techy stuff, I've been meaning to check out Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. I know they used to be good for a lot of that stuff, but I have no idea anymore.
posted by gjc at 5:54 AM on November 23, 2009

Response by poster: Wow, thanks.
I guess I stumbled into a common issue (no magazine pun intended).

So far Best Life seems promising (although it still reads like a "Men's magazine").
Monocle seems very slick (but maybe a bit too international/Eurocentric for her tastes and lacks the Pop Culture element).
The Believer fits squarely into *my* McSweeny's wheelhouse, but I don't think it would have the breadth (or coverage of health and politics) that she is looking for.
The Week may be pretty promising. The article breakdown is really along the lines of what she's looking for, and in looking through the music reviews I found a couple articles I would like to read. I'll dig into that more.

I agree with rokusan in that The New Yorker can be very alienating to folks that don't live in NYC.

Marie Claire's website makes them look like every other "How to meet guys" magazine she rolls her eyes at. Dunno if the actual magazine has more substance.

We do subscribe to Entertainment Weekly so maybe she could get her dumb/mainstream tv/movies/music fix there and use this magazine for the other missing puzzle pieces.

Anything else along the lines of the couple I indicated above?
posted by Overzealous at 6:19 AM on November 23, 2009

but if the small amount of "society page elements around New England/NYC money" in Vanity Fair put her off, she'll choke and die on the New Yorker.

Absolutely not. There's almost none of this content!

I agree with rokusan in that The New Yorker can be very alienating to folks that don't live in NYC.

i really think you should give the New Yorker a chance. I subscribe to it, and read it weekly. I live 8 hours and several states from NYC. The only content that is New York-specific are the arts listings and perhaps the theatre and arts reviews at the very front and back. Talk of the Town focuses on things happening around the city, but this is generally witty and often takes the form of mini-personality profiles, seasonal observations, etc. The 'guts' of the magazine contain really piercing profiles of people who span the gamut of culture high to low and serious to frivolous, science and medical reporting, in-depth international and domestic news reporting (often very original and revealing), food writing, analysis, book reviews, even shopping columns by Patricia Marx which, for some reason, I find really entertaining.

I don't recognize the criticisms of the New Yorker here. It's like a different magazine is being discussed.
posted by Miko at 6:28 AM on November 23, 2009 [3 favorites]

Sounds like we need a grown up version of Sassy magazine, if you ask me. And hey, I just quit my mag editorship, so I'm available... ;)
posted by at 7:31 AM on November 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by fings at 7:32 AM on November 23, 2009

This also makes me miss Spy. I'd really like to see that come back, maybe with a bit less old-boy swagger.
posted by Miko at 7:50 AM on November 23, 2009 [5 favorites]

I'm reading along this thread with interest, since I'd love to find a magazine like this as well.

Can't help but chime in on the side discussion of the New Yorker. Count me among those who can't stand it--I find it grating, like fingernails on a chalkboard.
posted by Sublimity at 8:40 AM on November 23, 2009

I hope there's no confusion between the New Yorker and New York magazine.

I think if you ripped out the most irrelevant-and-uninteresting-to-nonresidents stuff from both and put the rest together, you'd have another contender for the list.
posted by gnomeloaf at 9:32 AM on November 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Week is very good, definitely try that out. It's all very short pieces though; most are 1/4 page, a few 1/2 page, and one 2 page article. So she won't find long-form articles or interviews there.

The New Yorker is all (or almost all) long pieces; my problem has always been that I can't get through it in a week so they just stack up.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:52 PM on November 23, 2009

My take on this was/is a succinct "no," because IMHO a magazine meeting these precise criteria simply doesn't exist, which is a shame, but that's how it is - and now after quite a few replies, it seems a magazine meeting these precise criteria likely doesn't exist? I don't understand why "no" was mysteriously deleted. "Does it exist?" was the question - I still think "No" is the answer.
posted by citron at 4:16 PM on November 23, 2009

citron: Respectfully, succinctness is one of the many virtues that can be taken too far. The single word 'no' is not nearly as helpful an answer as the explanation you just provided.
posted by box at 7:34 PM on November 23, 2009

If you are just looking to cover fashion/pop culture areas, Nylon might be worth considering, it is usually slightly more interesting than the typical Glamour or Comso.
posted by susanvance at 7:25 AM on November 24, 2009

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