By Margaret Beetham
Just like the corset, the women's magazines which emerged within the 19th century produced a `natural' proposal of femininity: the family spouse; the trendy lady; the romancing and fascinating woman. Their legacy, from suffering aunts to model plates, are simply traced of their smooth opposite numbers. yet do those magazines and their offers empower or disempower their readers? of Her personal? is a full of life and revealing exploration of this immensely renowned shape from its beginnings. In attention-grabbing element Margaret Beetham investigates the needs, photographs and interpretations of femininity posed via a medium whose readership used to be and nonetheless is nearly completely lady. of Her personal is right away a chronological tracing of the heritage, a suite of fascinating case stories and an intervention into fresh debates approximately gender and sexuality in well known interpreting. it's a booklet which somebody who's attracted to the original, influential international of the woman's journal - scholars, students and basic readers alike - probably want to learn
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Extra resources for A Magazine of Her Own?: The Woman's Magazine 1800-1914
Her youth and ignorance meant that the threat she posed could be relatively easily contained, as she in turn became THE EARLY LADIES’ JOURNALS 29 a wife and a ‘chaste matron’. The magazines regulated her progress towards this state while at the same time representing its desirability in terms of financial and sexual adulthood and of access to woman’s only legitimate source of power. The potential for ‘the revolt of the daughters’ was not therefore realised until the 1890s (see Ch. 9). And domesticity was not identified as a cause of women’s disempowerment until the twentieth century.
The claim that magazines would ‘make the daughters of the present age wiser and better’ articulated this endemic anxiety (LM I 1798:1). The Lady’s Museum typically boasted that it provided reading ‘the chastest matron may peruse’ and added: 28 THE MAKING OF THE MAGAZINE, 1800–50 No Mother, Guardian, or Mistress of Female Seminaries will ever need to examine its contents previously to their putting it in the hands of their Daughters, Wards or Pupils. (LMXIV 1805: ‘Preface’) In part this was a marketing strategy.
Here again the reproduction and circulation of the visible image gave it a new cultural significance. The reader could take the illustration of the ‘mode’ to her dress-maker to be copied, changing its meaning once again as she worked to reproduce herself in terms of the fashionable image. This construction outlasted the craze for books of beauties and shaped periodicals for women throughout the rest of the century. In the 1830s and 1840s a number of new magazines for ladies, like the Ladies’ Cabinet of Fashion, Music and Romance (1832–70) were launched, following the already established pattern.