Wired Responds to the Boob Cover

Wired’s boob cover (which we linked to here) has been discussed a good amount by female science writers recently.

Cindy Royal had a really good post that took the conversation beyond just that cover, to Wired’s history of … interesting choices when it comes to women on their glossy front.  So good, in fact, that Wired editor Chris Anderson actually responded to it in the comments, and Cindy was able to reply.  It’s a lot of the same whining about not being able to find a “good female cover subject,” which is not sufficient justification for putting blatantly misogynistic images on there instead, but at least he’s willing to engage in the discussion.  It’s worth reading the exchange, as it really does highlight a big problem in journalism: selling magazines at all costs, even if that means reducing women to sex objects.



2 responses to “Wired Responds to the Boob Cover

  1. I don’t think the image on the cover is blatently misogynistic. In fact, I think to percieve it that way may mean that perhaps the viewer has some issues with their own mental image of women, their role in society, and anatomy.

    I think that most people (or I would like to hope anyway) know the difference between boobs for boobs sake and boobs as a legitimate extension of womanhood. That may be a bit naive but since I passed peuberty I know the differece between a naked woman on an internet advertisement and a naked woman in National Geographic.

    Women in general have a vested interest in their anatomy and physical appearance. True, that body image may be far too exagerated in western culture but the fact remains.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I think Wired used a pair of breasts in their most innocent sense (boobs for science I guess you’d say). And that the people who see them as boobs for sex objects might need to “grow up” for lack of a better term.

    At any rate, I think calling the entire magazine out as sexist was ridiculous and the editor made a few good points about Cindy discounting other women they’ve had on the cover in the past (Martha Stewart and Sarah Silverman) without really getting the point of why they were on there. If she was wrong about them, couldn’t she be wrong about these anonymous breasts as well?

  2. Hi Robert,

    Good points, there is certainly a different between boobs on National Geographic and boobs in Playboy. But I would argue that Wired’s cover leans to the latter, simply because National Geographic is not using naked native people to sell a product, and Wired is using a naked female body to do just that.

    I agree that women should be proud of their body, but when a magazine is using an idealized image of the female chest does not promote that.

    I think Cindy’s point (and I agree with her) is not necessarily that this cover in a vacuum is sexist, but that in the context of Wired’s history, influence and readership they should have resisted the urge to simply revert to a “sexy” cover, that uses a pair of breasts not because it’s particularly relevant but because they knew it would get a response. If they had, for example, used a man’s bare chest instead, would they have sold as many magazines? No, probably not.

    I don’t know if the entire magazine is sexist, but it does show that they are willing to sacrifice some integrity to sell copy. (I would also like to point out the difference between the Martha Stewart and Sarah Silvermann covers and a picture of boobs).

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