By Linda McLean
“In essence, the private media are major corporations selling a product (readers and audiences) to other businesses (advertisers)…their “societal purpose” also requires that the media’s interpretation of the world reflect the interests and concerns of the sellers, the buyers, and the governmental and private institutions dominated by these groups.”
― Noam Chomsky,
Once upon a time, Teen Vogue was focused on presenting fashion and beauty trends and tips to young women from the ages of 11-17. But more recently, it’s started to look like a propaganda mouthpiece for the divisive ‘social justice’ movements and Big Pharma – all whilst masquerading as a platform to ‘give young people a voice’ in politics.
The publication’s articles are currently less focused on the latest trends and far more focused on creating social division and sexual confusion by histrionically pointing fingers any time a woman, gay or transgender person may suffer the even the slightest injustice and creating flippant articles about how anal sex, getting birth control implants and having abortions are like, you know, totes normal for young teens to be doing.
So why the switch from fashion to propaganda? In a nutshell: money. Marketing dollars were already difficult to land from brands weary of targeting a consumer group that largely depends on parents for money. Teen Vogue was struggling in the market, so Phillip Picardi from clickbait site Refinery29 was brought in as Digital Editor and told by Teen Vogue’s publishers to ‘take risks online and see what happens’. In other words – get people to click, even if it means publishing articles that are intended to cause outrage and end up shoving nasty messages down teens’ throats.
Let’s Talk About Sex
Obviously, teenagers need to learn about sex, and a magazine is as good a medium as any. But it’s all about approach, and giving the kids what they actually need, right?
Understanding sexual behaviour is undoubtedly empowering and important for young women. For example: learning about what exactly happens when you lose your virginity. How to know when you’re ready for sex. How to protect yourself from diseases and pregnancy. How to maximise your own pleasure. Whilst most teens may be curious to know more about those topics, or how to manage their changing bodies – think, how to choose deodorants, bras, and tampons – Picardi seems to believe their target demographic of young teens needs to know what to expect when you engage in anal sex.
The magazine promises teenaged girls that if they ‘do anal’ they will be filled with a ‘feeling of fullness, which can be delightful.’ They suggest starting with ‘lots of lube and a small butt plug’ and say that this should always be on the table for a ‘healthy relationship.’ For anyone who still believes editor Picardi’s claim that this article was meant to be ‘informative’, please note: there is absolutely NO suggestion to use a condom, and absolutely NO mention of serious pain, rectal bleeding, stretching and fissures, or increased chances of rectal cancer, HPV and HIV – all of which are realities when engaging in this form of sex.
Picardi also claimed that the outcry against this article is ‘homophobic’ – but it’s aimed at straight girls, sooo….
It’s especially insulting to young women as, let’s face it – anal sex is all about submitting to his pleasure. And even boys aren’t really that into it. Picardi’s claim that ‘all the kids are doing it’ would seem to clash with what statistics tell us teens are really getting up to – according to Sexual Behavior 2006–2008 the number of females having sex by the age of 15 was only 23%. More recent statistics show this number has been getting even lower over the past few years. Today, only around 30% of all American high school students of all ages have been sexually active, and most of them are between 17-19. A mere 10% of sexually active teens have ever tried anal intercourse. In other words, around 3% of all teens. So why publish something that’s statistically irrelevant to a target demographic? One has to wonder.
Another topic Teen Vogue has so generously provided their young readership with is a guide to consent in sado-masochism. Yes, you read that right. As if most 14 year olds need to know about whips, chains and ‘safe words’. They also have a rather flippant article on what to get your bestie after her abortion. All kinds of ‘fun’ gifts are suggested, from an angry uterus heating pad to panties that are ‘made for your period, but that’s no reason not to rock em for post-abortion woes, especially because there will be blood.’
Of the 87 articles that come up in a search for ‘sex’ in the magazine, only a wee smattering were focused on helping teens navigate consenting heterosexual sex. Virtually none were about how to use condoms or natural protection. The rest were about gender identity politics, spewing nonsense like this:
“The reality is gender exists on a spectrum, and your genitals have no effect on that. You can have male genitalia and identify as a woman, you can have a vagina and be a man, you can have both male and female genitalia and be a woman, or you might not identify with any gender, at all no matter what genitalia you have. That’s all OK.”
There may not be much sexual advice for the everyday average straight girl – presumably the vast majority of Teen Vogue’s readers – but there’s plenty – and I do mean plenty – about transgenderism. A quick search pulled up nearly 220 articles on the subject, compared to 87 about sex – bizarre, since the number of gender transforming teens is far less than 0.3% of the entire estimated population of transgender people in the USA. And yet, from the articles you’d find in Teen Vogue, you’d think everyone and her sister were interested in changing their gender. Here’s a random smattering of headlines related to a search for ‘transgender’ in the magazine:
Trans Guy Shows Transformation with 1,400 Selfies
Why Asking Someone What Gender Pronoun They Use Is So Important
Why Do Men Kill Transgender Women?
7 Things You Should Never Ask a Transgender Person
Why the Trans Community Is In a State of Emergency
You have to wonder: why the strong push for what’s essentially a non-issue for literally 99.7% of the people in the world? And why is this especially targeted to young minds, which are only beginning to shape their notions of self, sexuality and sexual relationships?
To find the answer, we need to ask ourselves who benefits. And it seems to me the answer to that is Big Pharma.
Recently, the President of the American College of Pediatricians has expressed concern about how schools and the media are encouraging some children as young as 10 who think they identify as a different gender to take dangerous hormone blockers. In fact, Dr. Michelle Cretella told a forum about transgenderism that facilitating gender confusion in children by assisting them in transitioning to the opposite sex amounts to child abuse.
“Indoctrinating preschool kids with the lie that you can be trapped in the wrong body … disrupt(s) their normal reality testing and cognitive development,” she explained. “Those things are abusive.”
She would like to see sex reassignment operations and cross-sex hormones on children stopped immediately, and she also believes that schools should stop promoting gender ideology.
Not surprisingly, the push to disregard biology and let children ‘choose’ their sex is largely driven by pharmaceutical companies, who stand to gain quite a lot from the sterilization, castration, drugs, and lifetime of medical treatment such individuals will need.
Although the movement to affirm transition – of which Teen Vogue is clearly a part – claims that it is helping children, many psychologists point out that it is having the exact opposite effect, “pushing children to impersonate the opposite sex, sending many of them down the path of puberty blockers, sterilization, the removal of healthy body parts, and untold psychological damage.” According to pediatrician Dr. Cretella, most children who think they ‘may’ be more like the opposite gender likely have a common psychological condition that normally resolves after puberty. Indeed, it is rather shocking that although they can’t vote, drink, drive or even be legally left home alone, children as young as 8 are allowed to decide if they’d like to take hormone disruptors and blockers.
Chemical Birth Control … And Worse
But it’s not only the potentially transgender people Big Pharma makes money from – the ‘normal’ ones are a goldmine, too.
Many would argue there’s a need to have a frank discussion about birth control, whether teens are sexually active or not. And of course, that is true – which forms are safest for your health, which contraceptive methods work best, and so on. In fact, improved sex education seems to be working; the number of adolescents who are having sex at earlier ages has decreased since 1988 and contraceptive use has increased since the 1990s. Together these two factors have contributed to the U.S. reaching its lowest teen pregnancy and birth rates in years.
But do you hear such simple, sound advice as ‘use a condom’ in Teen Vogue? Nope. There’s not a single mention of how to use condoms in any of the searches I did. However, a quick search for ‘birth control’ in their digital version pulls up article after article about how Republicans want to make taxpayers pay for birth control pills and how Donald Trump hates Planned Parenthood. There’s that political propaganda again.
There are, however, loads of articles encouraging girls to go on hormonally based birth control pills – even though they can seriously harm girls’ health and don’t prevent STDs like condoms do. Even more shockingly, there are also myriad pieces urging teen girls to get the HPV vaccination, even though it has proven to be dangerous time and time again – and a simple condom offers the same protection. You just have to wonder: just how much funding Teen Vogue is getting from Big Pharma – in this case, specifically Merk, the makers of the HPV vaccine? My guess is quite a lot.
Here’s something you probably didn’t know – large pharmaceutical companies such as Merk also produce UV filters and coloured pigments for major cosmetics companies. So even if Teen Vogue isn’t receiving funds directly from Merk, it is very likely getting money from one of Merk’s major cosmetics partners, which include most of the big department store/supermarket cosmetic brands you can think of.
In case you think I, as an adult woman, am completely out of touch with the world of teens today, I should mention that I am the mother of two teenage girls – both of whom find Teen Vogue ‘boring’ and not representative of their interests. What do they read, you may ask? Well, they love Seventeen, which still focuses on the traditional flirting advice, fashion ideas and beauty tips.
They’re also obsessed with Rookie, a magazine by a teenager (Tavi Gevinson, no less ) for teenagers, whose themes are a bit meatier, and includes not only great poetry, art and literature, but also articles such as: How Can I Stop My Parents from Fighting? How to design 3D animation, What’s the Easiest Way to Adjust to a New School? and How Do you Know Someone’s Just Right For You?
Not a single question about which pronoun by which one should address a trans person or where to buy bondage gear. Strange, that…!
All of this is not to say that transgender people don’t deserve a voice, that young girls aren’t interested in political subjects, or that teens aren’t in need of information to help them develop sexually. But while Picardi and his circle of urban, gay adult friends may be focused on transgender rights and the how-tos of S&M and anal sex, the majority of female teens – Teen Vogue’s main demographic – are more concerned about how to buy a bra properly, use a tampon for the first time or how to flirt.
But this much is clear: Teen Vogue doesn’t care about their needs. They’re more focused on outraging parents (like this one, who made the anal sex article go viral) and consequently getting clicks, even if it ends up damaging our children. They’re more concerned about catering to their main sources of revenue – which seems to be Big Pharma and Planned Parenthood. So when major publications like BoF or public figures like Dan Rather say things like “Teen Vogue continues to churn out quality stories, really establishing itself as a beacon for issues impacting young women’s lives,” we need to ask ourselves just how out of touch they really are.