The Women's Publications Men Should Be Reading
By Bonnie Stiernberg / February 20, 2020 9:25 am

For years, women’s interest publications have been stereotyped as nothing more than how-to guides — how to be pretty, how to get fit, how to improve your sex life, how to land a man. But while early titles like McCall’s or Lady’s Home Journal were certainly rooted in the internalized misogyny of the late 1800s, and issues like size inclusivity still plague many magazines to this day, outlets aimed at women have a history of tapping into deeper issues and shining a light on things that matter, from Cosmopolitan writing about the pill in the ’60s and Glamour becoming the first fashion magazine to put a black woman on its cover in 1966 to dozens of women’s titles’ coverage of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1976.

Some of the best female minds of the era were featured in the pages of women’s publications — Joan Didion, Gloria Steinem, even Betty Friedan, whose groundbreaking “Women Are People, Too!” article in Good Housekeeping led to the publication of her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique and helped spark a revolution. Publications like Ms. and Jane and Sassy eventually cropped up to offer a more feminist perspective within women’s media.

But what does that mean for you, a man? In short, it’s time to broaden your horizons. Men’s titles like Esquire and GQ are often seen as being more general interest — take it from this woman who grew up reading them and now works for the men’s lifestyle publication you’re currently reading — but magazines aimed at women still remain largely seen as frivolous or somehow less important. But if you can get past the idea that certain media is only for one gender, you’ll find plenty of quality journalism and thoughtful criticism. With that in mind, these are the six women’s publications you should be paying attention to; you don’t need lady parts to enjoy them.

Teen Vogue

Teen Vogue is woke now” is an oversimplification, and certainly no publication is perfect (as evidenced by a recent fiasco over a sponsored post from Facebook). But Teen Vogue‘s political coverage extends far beyond Lauren Duca’s “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America” article, which inspired Tucker Carlson to tell the writer she “should stick to thigh-high boots” and forced a generation of men to reckon with the fact that teenaged girls are capable of caring about things besides makeup, fashion and boys. These days, you’ll find everything from a piece exploring how mass shootings are connected to America’s history of anti-indigenous violence to a look at how young New Yorkers are fighting to transform the MTA. And if you care at all about the labor movement (which you should), Kim Kelly’s columns are essential.

The Cut

You probably are familiar with The Cut thanks to its viral (and fascinating) articles about grifters like Anna Delvey and Caroline Calloway or its powerful “100 Women Vs. Harvey Weinstein” piece, but if you’re not regularly visiting the site, you’re missing out on some excellent longform journalism. Sometimes the topics are dark but deeply important, like their piece about the sexually abusive behavior of a former Mount Sinai doctor or “The Stolen Kids of Sarah Lawrence,” which actually inspired authorities to investigate Larry Ray and indict him on charges of sex trafficking, extortion and conspiracy. Other times, they’re mysterious, like this tale of a house in New Jersey that was potentially haunted (either by a ghost or a neighbor trying to scare off anyone interested in purchasing the home). But whatever the subject matter, if you’re a fan of quality storytelling, you’ll find something to devour.

Bitch Media

This quarterly print magazine that retakes ownership of the gendered slur with its title has been around for nearly 25 years, encouraging its readers to examine pop culture through a feminist lens. That’s something men should be able to get behind as well, but if the f-word freaks you out, take solace in Bitch‘s inclusive mission statement, which declares that “Bitch aims to put a lucid, balanced face on feminism for all kinds of folks, including people who aren’t really aware that feminism refers to more than women who don’t want to shave their legs, or simply getting more women into positions of power.” And if pop culture’s not your thing, you’ll still find plenty of fascinating political articles examining why progressive candidates are keeping their distance from welfare reform or a look at how Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Lab proves capitalist takes on self-care aren’t going anywhere.

Bust

Founded in 1993, Bust has managed to survive the harsh media landscape that has forced other women’s publications to shut down their print components or fold entirely. Its feminist approach to covering pop culture is essential, regardless of your gender. Articles like “What We Can Learn From Birds of Prey and the Male Gaze” or “Here For the Right Reasons, Or: Why Are We Still Watching The Bachelor?” challenge readers to think critically about the media they’re consuming, while celebrity interviews with cover stars like Natasha Lyonne, Tina Fey, Aidy Bryant, Carrie Brownstein and Broad City‘s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer will pique the interest of any culture hound.

DAME

DAME’s tagline is “For Women Who Know Better,” but if you’re a man with an interest in news and politics, pop culture, health, technology or the environment, you’ll find something to sink your teeth into as well. Owned and edited by women, DAME features smart, wide-ranging articles like “Trump’s New Visa Rules Are Eugenics In Disguise,” a look at the legal issues domestic violence victims sometimes face called “When Protecting Your Children is a Crime” and “The Science of Sex Tech” as well as two podcasts — The Fifty One, which examines food insecurity and food access issues in America, and Sip On This, an advice podcast hosted by Ashley Nicole Black.

Tom Tom Mag

Tom Tom Mag is, admittedly, the most niche of the publications on this list, but that’s what makes it so essential — it’s the only outlet in the world devoted specifically to female drummers. As its mission statement declares, “We seek to raise awareness about female percussionists from all over the world and hope to inspire women and girls of all ages to drum, all while strengthening and building the community of otherwise fragmented female musicians.” There are gear reviews and other articles you’re more likely to be interested in if you’ve got at least a vague interest in drumming, but the quarterly print magazine also covers a variety of topics that’ll appeal to any music fan, male or female. Founded in 2009 by Mindy Abovitz, Tom Tom Mag focuses each issue around a theme — past issues have covered Money, Sex + Love, Health, DIY and Touring. Its most recent Politics issue features interviews with Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova, former second lady Tipper Gore (who discusses, among other things, her unlikely friendship with Frank Zappa) and British band Peaness, who are using their music to raise awareness about global warming.