Yes, ‘Teen Vogue’ Published A Scathing Indictment Of Trump; Nope, You Shouldn’t Be Surprised

Anyone surprised by this hasn't talked to a teen in a while.

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Yesterday, award-winning US writer Lauren Duca wrote an opinion piece on Donald Trump. Though she’s hardly the first to cover the topic, the piece offered an extremely eloquent and intelligent exploration of the many ways the President-elect is “gaslighting America”.

Duca chronicled Trump’s myriad lies throughout his presidential campaign and the culture of suspicion and manipulation they have bred. She then offered readers advice on how to critically engage with current affairs and debate in this new political climate:

“The road ahead is a treacherous one. There are unprecedented amounts of ugliness to untangle, from deciding whether our President can be an admitted sexual predator to figuring out how to stop him from threatening the sovereignty of an entire religion.

“It’s incredible that any of those things could seem like a distraction from a greater peril, or be only the cherry-picked issues in a seemingly unending list of gaffes, but the gaslights are flickering. When defending each of the identities in danger of being further marginalised, we must remember the thing that binds this pig-headed hydra together. As we spin our newfound rage into action, it is imperative to remember, across identities and across the aisle, as a country and as individuals, we have nothing without the truth.”

The piece has been received well. It’s been shared thousands of times and universally praised by journalists, authors and readers alike.

But here’s the thing: because it was published in Teen Vogue, a fair amount of that praise has been delivered by Very Learned People (often older men) whose jaws are on the ground and eyebrows are perched Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada-high.

But This Isn’t Even About Make-Up Or Boys??!!

Though the barbs are light-hearted, many seem genuinely shocked that a magazine geared towards young women would both cover national politics and do so without any gifs, celebrity gossip or text talk.

This is an issue the author of the piece has taken offence at. As well as contributing to outlets such as New York Mag, Pacific Standard and The New Yorker, Lauren Duca is the Weekend Editor at Teen Vogue and fiercely backs the diverse work done by the magazine.

She’s spent a great number of the past 24 hours fronting up to people praising the piece but deriding the publication (while also dealing with an onslaught of generic sexist abuse in her DMs).

Duca has been backed by a huge number of other writers and fans of the magazine (mostly women) who argue the same points. These include Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti, Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay, and New York Times writer Rachel Syme.

Rookie editor Tavi Gevinson has even gone one step further. She argues that, not only is it not surprising Teen Vogue are politically engaged, but that it would be misguided and out-of-date if they weren’t. Gevinson has been independently publishing great and innately political writing for young women in Rookie since 2012, and remains supportive yet skeptical of Teen Vogue‘s work.

Stating “the cultural currency/relevance of feminism [has gone] up”, Gevinson calls this “an exciting moment in which places with lots of money and reach… have finally understood that women and teens do not, in fact, want to see stuff that makes them hate themselves.”

Young women are craving smart political writing so much, there’s now an economic imperative for it.

What Does All This Tell Us?

This whole nontroversy says a hell of a lot about the disconnect that exists between the actual lives and interests of young women today, and the outdated or pigheaded perceptions others have of them.

In this year alone, Teen Vogue has published a video series in which Native American teenage girls report from on the ground at Standing Rock, an interview with Michelle Obama about support and development of worldwide education for young girls, and first-hand testimonies from teenage Jewish girls responding to Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon. And that’s not to discount their other work. Articles that focus on make-up or relationships or celebrities can be just as crucial and inherently political. The publication regularly tackles issues like body positivity, mental health, and everyday discrimination in considered and important ways.

Lauren Duca’s takedown of Trump is really just an extenuation of this. As Carol Hainsh wrote in 1969 “the personal is political”, but the opposite is true too. Trump’s election is more personal for the readers of Teen Vogue than many other publications. Teenage girls are the ones who now have to grow up in a nation where claims of sexual assault are excused at the highest level; like all young people, their futures are threatened through general ineptness and lack of resolve on issues like climate change, but unlike their male classmates, they also have to contend with a Vice President who wants to revoke their reproductive rights. (Not for nothing, that link comes courtesy of a news piece from Cosmopolitan).

For many, the shock of a teen mag taking on Trump in such a strong way came from the fact it wasn’t their experience of the same publications even a decade earlier. I get that, I really do.

But the fact that this is changing — notwithstanding the economic pressure to be #woke — is a good thing. Young women are smart, involved, and really fucking sick of being told they’re not worthy of a seat at the table.

Read Lauren Duca’s original opinion piece here.