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My Dream was to work at a Women’s Mag, Now I’m Ashamed of Them

It was the summer between my sophomore and junior years of college and I had an internship at a prestigious public relations firm in NYC. A friend’s brother helped me snag the internship — my first big one. While I was excited about it, and learning a lot, a career in magazines was my big dream.

On Twitter, I found out about an event Teen Vogue was hosting in Times Square with actress Shailene Woodley who was new on the scene at the time for her role in ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Luckily, the event wasn’t far from my office and I could make it before work so I ran over there extra early one weekday morning in the hopes of scoring some connections.

When I got to the event, I waited until the right moment and then approached a Teen Vogue staffer. “Oh, do you want to speak with Shailene?” she asked. “No, actually,” I said. “I’m here to talk to you.” I asked about an internship and how I could get one. She gave me her card and said to be in touch.

I was elated. I followed through and landed an interview in her department. While I didn’t ultimately get that internship, the persistence and drive did lead me to other positions at SHAPE magazine as an intern the following summer, and then a winter internship at Marie Claire my senior year.

I went on to work at Seventeen, becoming an assistant editor after college and moved over to People StyleWatch before leaving the industry to go to Israel and pursue my Jewish learning a bit more.

I was the girl that opened up Seventeen magazine each morning in high school to try and figure out what to wear. I pored over the pages to try and get my clearest skin, figure out what to say to my crush and feel less alone going through the (many) challenges of teen life. 

These glossy books were beacons of hope, promising me a better and brighter life each month they arrived at my doorstep. They were the ultimate stop for me — the true goal. I was ready to sweep floors if that’s what they needed and would guarantee me my first job.

Now, I’m living a much different reality. Albeit, magazines are too. Many have closed in favor of solely online components as teens and young adults these days aren’t really flipping through hard copies. I made it in just before the downhill spiral really happened and had a few good years before it seems they became a thing of the past.

A lot of the brands are still going strong online. With social media and YouTube these days, many thrive digitally. They are still telling stories, often as the authority on women’s issues and still have prestige in the eyes of many.

The thing is, since Israel was attacked by Hamas on October 7 and the Gaza war began, I can’t look at them the same way. My initial dream mag, Teen Vogue, has become an Instagram account I’ve unfollowed and unfortunately can say the same about many other brands.

Magazines have become quite liberal in recent years, which in itself isn’t an issue for me. In fact, I identify as a liberal in many ways. It could be an issue journalism-wise though. Many can point to the election of Donald Trump as a time when media outlets started speaking out with more opinion-based pieces instead of simply reporting the news. 

Lea Goldman, a former boss of mine when I interned at Marie Claire, and media executive speaks about this a lot on her page.

Since October 7, she’s been especially vocal about the antisemitism in media everywhere, but most recently from women’s publications. The New York Times has its fair share of anti-Israel sentiments weaved into its pieces, yet they still managed to publish an expose on the disgusting and horrifying sexual acts of violence that Hamas did to Israeli women. 

The women’s magazines loudly, remained silent. Lea posted a poignant reel on her feed demonstrating just that. I haven’t seen one article covering the atrocity in which women were raped so brutally those who examined the bodies had never seen anything close to it. For the places that are extremely audible about a woman’s right to an abortion (most have at least one article on their front page right now), when it comes to Israeli women, bodily autonomy doesn’t seem to matter as much.

The saddest part is that it’s not that surprising. Since October 7 I have become increasingly disheartened with the way women’s magazines and sites have covered the conflict. No one wants innocent Palestinians to suffer. Full stop. The reality is though, that their country is run by a terrorist organization that just committed the worst atrocities to humans that people have seen in a long time — possibly since the Holocaust (many incidents even worse, people report).

The amount of attention given to the massacre that prompted the war is minuscule, often nonexistent, in comparison to the focus on Palestinians in crisis. The misinformation on Israel and what actually is going on in the region spreads like wildfire — people don’t even question it — while almost every move my Israel is not only questioned, but comes with a warning attached. 

I made the mistake of reading articles about the conflict on The Cut about a month ago. Every single article speaking about antisemitism started with a statement making sure the world knew they didn’t agree with Israel’s actions. No one could speak freely about the fact that Israel was just tortured, full stop. The only way to speak about the atrocities done to its people or even antisemitism in the U.S. was with another statement attached that separated them from the country.

Teen Vogue has published multiple articles, all one-sided speaking about the suffering in Gaza. I have yet to see an article that is remotely pro-Israel or speaks about the suffering the nation and its people have been through. Articles solely focus on the need for a ceasefire, not including any perspectives from the other side on why that would actually harm more Israelis. Even if all staffers completely disagree with Israel in every way (which is hard to believe), coverage should at least attempt to be more balanced. How hard would it be to throw one interview in there?

Articles on book recommendations by Bustle, POPSUGAR and Refinery 29 startlingly leave Israel out of the conversation, only including books by Jewish writers that are so liberal they don’t seem like they are pro-Israel themselves. (Note: This doesn’t mean that liberal Jews aren’t pro-Israel, just the authors on these particular lists). I have not seen a book that is actually pro-Israel, like Noa Tishby’s Israel for example, on one list so far even though it is an article telling readers this is how they educate themselves on the situation. Readers who are completely uninformed may not even know how biased of a list it is.

Marie Claire may be the most startling of them all. A magazine that I worked for and loved, known for covering international women’s issues is silent on the abuse and murder Israel experienced. A strong advocate for women’s rights, they sadly haven’t included Israelis in their activism. The only article I’ve seen on their site about the situation includes ways to donate and all of the organizations included donate to Palestinian causes with no Israeli ones listed.

It’s safe to say that the magazines I dreamed to work at in the past, the ones I dedicated years to, that I lived and breathed, are places I’m ashamed of today. More than that, they’re places I actually don’t feel I’d be welcome at anymore.

Sitting in a conference room, discussing the conflict and articles to post, I can’t imagine that my perspective would even be taken into consideration. Maybe I would even be ostracized for it. By not acknowledging the Israeli suffering in a real way, they are saying, “your voice isn’t welcome here.”

In just a short amount of time, the world has seemingly become so divided. In a post-October 7 world, I wonder who is with us and who is not, which colleagues would support me and which ones would be silent.

The only thing that gives me solace is knowing that good will prevail and that my identity as a Jew who stands up for my people and homeland is as strong as ever. While I may not be represented in that world anymore, I have come to affirm who I am even more deeply.

As Jews across the spectrum, we’ve united in so many ways. We may be small, we may be outnumbered, we may often be unsupported, but we always continue to fight.

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  • Avatar photo imelda Pearce says on January 5, 2024

    I’m a 71 year old highly educated Jewish Woman whose career is her family’s health, education and welfare, in other words, a Mom of a growing mishpacha., and becoming elderly while running to keep my health in shape. i love this article. It is sad how we worked so hard all our lives to foster understanding between disparate groups, only to feel so alone when the chips are down. Alison’s article reflects this reality in a genuine and non-dramatic way. thanks!.

    Reply
    • Avatar photo Ann Bar-Dov says on January 13, 2024

      Nathaniel, although your comment about Israel’s geographical borders is true based on biblical sources, in our time Israel “disengaged” and left Gush Katif in 2005. We don’t want any responsibility for them. (Actually, no one does).

      Reply
  • Avatar photo Nathaniel Wyckoff says on January 7, 2024

    Alex, you came face-to-face with the harsh reality that DEI, “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” deliberately excludes Jews and always has excluded us, by design. In the sick worldview view of illiberal academics, magazine publishers and others, Jews are simply white oppressors who deserve whatever persecution befalls us; after all, we’re uniformly rich, white and powerful, and therefore evil. The fact that the majority of Jews in Israel are those expelled from Muslim countries at the time of Israel’s founding, and their descendants, means nothing to the DEI crowd.

    I want to offer a correction to a point made in the article: “The reality is though, that their country is run by a terrorist organization that just committed the worst atrocities to humans that people have seen in a long time — possibly since the Holocaust (many incidents even worse, people report).” The Gaza Strip is not the country of the “Palestinians.” It is a part of Eretz Yisrael, and has been a part of Eretz Yisrael since Biblical times. As recorded in Tanach, Shlomo HaMelech’s kingdom explicitly extended “until Aza (Gaza).” All of Eretz Yisrael belongs to the Jewish People and to nobody else.

    Certainly, you simply meant that the people in Gaza are ruled by a criminal, sociopathic terrorist organization. You are absolutely right for pointing this out. However, please be careful not to characterize the region in which they live as “their country”; it plays into the antisemitic lie that “them evil Jews/Zionists invaded ‘Palestine’ and stole the land that the ‘Palestinians’ had inhabited from time immemorial.”

    May you continue to stand up for the Jewish People and Eretz Yisrael with great success.

    Reply
  • Avatar photo Judy Gruen says on January 7, 2024

    This article is spot on. The mainstream media, by which I include Teen Vogue and all the others mentioned, have skewed left for decades. In fact, they buried many important stories relating to women’s health, such as clear evidence that the sexually free activity they encouraged young females to engage in often had terrible consequences, including STDs (which can be linked to later infertility), depression, anxiety, etc. Nope. Not for them. My new memoir about my career as a Jewish journalist (“Bylines and Blessings”) takes the industry to task for their political agenda, and I salute Ms. Abel for turning away from these toxic media outlets. With her talent, she will build a meaningful, fruitful career.

    Reply
  • Avatar photo Nancy Perkins says on January 9, 2024

    I have not subscribed to Ms. Magazine for a long time. Long before the war broke out, I felt like Jewish women were being marginalized by Ms.

    Reply
    • Avatar photo Sherona says on January 10, 2024

      It is a sorry state of affairs. Painful. I wake up every day thinking of hostages. Let us start a letter writing blitz to all these magazine. While I don’t read the magazines mentioned in the blog, except may be Ms, I feel it is important to constantly remind these publications to stay honest. I see the same attitudes mentioned in the blog reflected by my liberal friends. They feel the Jewish suffering pales in comparison to the Palestinian. They have all latched on to the media catch phrase of carpet bombing to completely invalidate the Jewish/Israeli suffering and why this war started. They have no clue about radical Islam or the sinister and evil machinations of Hamas. Most of these liberals, and I consider myself one too, will be swiftly and brutally silenced by the middle eastern oppressive regimes for their democratic liberal voices. Liberal does not mean clueless and the world has lost its ability to discern that.

      Please start a letter writing campaign to all these publications. I will definitely promote it on my social media accounts. I know many such people in my Bene Israel, Indian Jewish, Israeli community who will engage and sign these petitions.
      Thank you.

      Reply
  • Avatar photo Myrna Faye Solganick says on January 11, 2024

    I am 72. Shortly after 10/7, I made the mistake of getting involved in a “discussion” on a so called feminist group on FB. There was little compassion – let alone defense – of Israel there, or of the Israeli women. One woman said I was a privileged white woman. Privileged? I have disliked that word and concept for a long time but clearly after 10/7, I am NOT privileged. It has been so devastating that those we have stood up for – have gone to the wall for – have deserted us now. It makes me feel that we Jews ultimately stand alone. Where will this end??

    Reply

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