web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: Talk to Me
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Talk to Me

There's only one woman in my firm ( me, lor) but for some strange reason, we have lots of girly (as opposed to girlie) magazines lying around in the office. And I didn't buy any of them. In fact, I would hardly fork money out for any female type publication. Once a year, just to see what the fuss is all about, I might want to check out the list of Cleo's Most Eligibile Bachelors, but I'd stand at the newsagent and thumb through the pages, and put Ms. Cleo back on the stand once I'm finished. Then I shell out 30 bucks for Fast Company because it has a picture of Carly Fiorina on the cover.

When it comes to journals for women, I often feel left out. You see, I haven't seen one that speaks to me : a rather conservative, English speaking, thirty something woman too frazzled to care what colours are in for Fall. (There is no Fall in Malaysia, in case you haven't noticed)

Women magazines, generally talk about two things : Sex, and What You Should be Buying/Having/Doing. They're a collective form of peer pressure, brought on, not by the forces of feminism, but the fascism of the fashion and beauty industry. Harsh? Let's be real : flip open any female magazine - most articles are there because they're crafted on the cornerstone of sponsorship and advertising. Advertisers want a certain demographic (the most sought after demographics- it would seem- are the skinny, Oriental girl who shops at Padini &Co, but might save up for Guess; and understandably, the skinny, Oriental tai-tai who shops, errr..full stop.) Editors contrive to attract said market segments with articles like "Man Manual : Your Quintessential Guide to Understanding, Loving and Getting Your Way with Men" or directly plug products through "make-up how-to's" and "Follow the Stars Fashion Workshops".

Maybe it's me, but reading pure fashion journals, like Harper's Bazaar or Vogue or the uber mod Malaysian rag, Glam is akin to watching the popular girls in school go by, and being reminded of what you ain't got. Nope, I can't afford the clothes nor the corrective surgery.

Although more benign, magazines meant for the "older woman" like Female or Women's Weekly, don't interest me either. They're terribly trivial ("Sex : positions to flatter your flabby bits", proclaimed one, ha ha so maybe I should buy) or they make me feel guilty about not exfoliating enough or raising my kids wrong. Also, benign often means kinda boring.

And what about the new magazines that try to fill the tudung niche, you say? They still talk about sex : "Kamar Suami Isteri : 10 pesanan untuk Pengantin Baru", says one article. Or they're pedestals for us to fawn over this month's featured politician-businesswoman, who would inevitably be pictured behind their huge desks or next to their cars and houses. Always included : a grainy photo of the family on an overseas trip, a marker that this Malay woman has indeed, arrived. (When I look at it, I often wonder how many overseas trips the husband took with the mistress)

Female magazines on TV are even worse - I can hardly bear to look at these, and this is exacerbated by the fact that I actually know the people behind them. These people -my friends- are tired women pulled in all directions, each week just making do with what's available to shoot. So you get the humdrum of scriptwriting : "gaun makan malam ini sesuai untuk majlis santai", for example, as though the makcik that's watching has twelve soirees lined up in her social calendar. Maybe one day, they'll realise that they can glean material from their own lives, and then, start getting in touch with real women.

Are real, ordinary women not a desirable demographic? Let's see, if we're married, we decide on most of the big-ticket purchases and that's why in Australian home magazines, for example, an ad for white goods would usually feature a nice-looking man (if not half naked) Ordinary women, (okay, I know that needs to be defined) are the largest purchasers of Fast Moving Consumer Goods, and FMCG companies are usually, the biggest advertisers.

If we ignore the tai-tai's and the glam Datins, (they're a small percentage of the population, anyway, unless I'm missing something), women in their thirties and fourties with at least tertiary education have the largest purchasing power compared to others, and they have lots of things that they have to buy - from household goods, to furniture, to stuff for their children. And we're not even counting personal posessions, like cars or investments or a tube of lipstick. We buy our own mobile phones and our own lap-tops. We read more novels than men. We get to pick the movies to watch over the weekend. We plan the family holiday. The single among us buy apartments and spa treatments, sometimes abroad. And we have retail therapy for every occasion : depressed? shop. happy? shop.

It makes sense to woo us, don't you think? It makes sense to figure out what we want, what we talk about, and what troubles us; and here's a hint, it's not always sex. Ordinary women around the world made Oprah the most popular, (and richest) talk show host, ever. We read other ordinary women's blogs. Surely, therein lies the big clue.


Comments: Post a Comment