Evie O, O

This rightwing ladymag's just another culture-war bait and switch

I mentioned at alicublog yesterday that I’d found a new explicitly conservative women’s magazine called Evie, and referred to my archive of posts on its forebear, the late lamented Acculturated. The whole idea of a rightwing ladymag is an interesting subject in itself. Longtime readers may recall that Instapundit Glenn Harlan Reynolds proposed them as culture war ordnance in 2012:

My suggestion [to rich Republicans]: Buy some women’s magazines. No, really. Or at least some women’s Web sites...

...those magazines and Web sites see themselves, pretty consciously, as a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party. So while nine out of 10 articles may be the usual stuff on sex, diet and shopping, the 10th will always be either soft p.r. for the Democrats or soft — or sometimes not-so-soft — hits on Republicans.

I guess we know by now that this is how all such culture warrior grifts work: Some bravo emerges from the ever-raging rightwing bitchfest over liberal Hollyweird, libertine music stars, egghead novelists, etc. and says, hey, potential donors, what if we made our own movies, novels, music, etc.?  (See Declaration Entertainment, Liberty Island, et alia.)

Such a swindle. Most popular art we already have is, barring a few pallid pro-minority or anti-war sentiments, pretty reactionary. Does anyone really think, for example, that the current top-grossing movies (per Box Office Mojo, No Time to Die, Halloween Kills, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, The Addams Family 2, and The Last Duel) are apt to encourage leftism in their viewers? Play the most popular TV shows and pop songs and it’s just the same.

Besides, this is America — art isn’t nearly as powerful as the shitty alternatives to art that we consume like corn syrup. In a country where Joe Rogan is the most popular podcaster and the top sites on Facebook are always rightwing shit like Ben Shapiro and Dan Bongino, what chance would a lowly artist have of catching the conscience of the public?

So what if occasionally some filmmaker tweaks capitalism or some musician says bigotry is bad? Our airwaves and discourse are still overwhelmingly favorable to the status quo, which is so rightwing that we can’t even get a decent stimulus package passed because a couple of obviously bought-off Senators won’t allow it. If the power of lefty art were anything like what the culture warriors say, we would have long since strung up Manchin and Sinema and seized the means of production.

When conservatives bitch about popular culture, it’s not because they really think it’s converting many people to liberalism; it’s because they’re bullies and, like all bullies, they become enraged whenever someone sasses them where they can hear it; and, since the customary conservative tactic when they don’t have even a bullshit argument to advance is to cry victim, they claim the intellectual and cultural professions are all unfairly stacked against them.

The natural follow-through on this shtick is for the hungrier ones to say, hey, why don’t we make our own superhero movies, K-pop, lo-fi documentary, whatever, and sometimes they get backers to pitch in. When it pays off, we get a brief attempt by the creators to provide a credible “alternative” version of the thing they were bitching about. But sooner than later it become just another easily-identifiable rightwing nut-cluster.

That’s what I think happened with Evie. In 2019 its founder Brittany Martinez, who seems to have started the magazine right out of the University of Dallas, went on conservative site Quillette to pimp it as an alternative to outlets like The Toast, Bustle, and Bust that, she said, “push a liberal, feminist message.”

But Martinez was smart enough to know that she’d spook the horse if she pitched it as Republican Cosmo.  So she insisted “Evie isn’t ‘fighting the culture war,’” and “we’re free thinkers, unbeholden to any political doctrine” — notwithstanding she also talked about her prospective readers as if they were dumb gulls to be conserva-conned: “They’ve been conditioned to expect instant gratification, thanks in large part to technology,” Martinez explained, and “conservatives need to meet them halfway.”

Shortly thereafter she introduced the Evie website thus:

Millions of women across America have been forgotten by the publishing world. They’re tired of having to go to trashy or politically biased sites and magazines just to get quality reads on health, beauty, and more. For years, these publications have focused on proving how women are great by showing how they can be just like men.

Evie’s first offerings were mostly light fare such as “7 Fictional Men Who Will Win Your Heart” that only gently snuck rightwing ideas into the glurge (“Our society is attempting to lower our expectations of romantic partners, and finding real-life culminations of the good men depicted in stories and movies is uncommon”).

Occasionally they ran items that had a more obvious political edge. “Women’s Choice: The Truth About the Gender Pay Gap,” for example, slotted in Evie’s “Career” category, explained women are not underpaid because of gender bias but because they aren’t working hard enough (“The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that on an average day, men work 8.5 hours, compared to 7.6 hours for women”), quoted Jordan Peterson on how women are “less competitive or confrontational in the workplace,” and concluded that women should learn “how important salary negotiations are in the job market.” You can bet they weren’t looking for housecleaners to subscribe.

But at least on the surface Evie attempted to present itself like any other ladymag — servicey, slightly sexy, but agenda-neutral.

Looking at the current crop of Evie stories, however, one gets the sense that someone told Martinez the we’re-not-culture-warriors bit wasn’t working, and that they should do more rightwing vice-signaling. So though they still have some tradgirl stories like “Lost Feminine Arts We Should All Master Again” (the first one is “Using Our Hands,” but alas it’s about baking pies and shit), they’re mostly pumping out barely-disguised Breitbart-grade propaganda like this:

It Seems Cubans Value American Freedom More Than Many Americans Do” (“Why does the American flag still symbolize freedom to so many oppressed people in the world when an increasing number of Americans claim that's a symbol of racism at best and totalitarian nationalism at worst?”);

Sex Ed Lets Parents Avoid The Job Of Educating Their Kids About Sexual Morals” (which links to a story about the advantages of the Catholic rhythm method of birth control);

Why Do Feminists Promote Sexual Liberation If They Believe We Live In A Rape Culture?” (“It makes no sense view sexual freedom or casual sex as the pinnacle of true fulfillment and liberation, when the offshoot of that theory is predominantly that both men and women are a means to an end for one sole purpose” — also, quotes from the loony Witherspoon Institute);

Uma Thurman Opens Up About Her Abortion As A Teenager, Calls It Her ‘Darkest Secret’” (“Uma Thurman’s story is heartbreaking, but also confusing because she supports abortion while simultaneously describing how it broke her heart… Her Reaction to the Texas Abortion Law Contradicts Her Pain”).

Oh and wait, we haven’t even gotten to the COVID stuff:

A Viral Tweet From A 35-Year-Old Woman Shows The Heartbreaking Consequences Of Lockdowns” (“For all the chatter we hear about ‘the science’ lately, both women’s fertility window and the fact that most young people recover from COVID-19 are absolutely rooted in science”);

Why Are We Ignoring That Vaccine Passports Are Racism In Action?” (“The CDC and other big names in the business completely reject the idea that these communities could mistrust the vaccine or the institutions pushing them – heaven forbid these individuals are able to make their own decisions regarding their own health, regardless of the domineering input of the Covid establishment” [PS this is bullshit]);

Why Homeschool Is Becoming A Popular Choice Among Millennial Parents” (“Many parents across the political spectrum see their children being forced to wear masks, social distance, and carry the burden of adults’ fear, and they believe it’s a step too far… In the case of gender theory, we enter even more distressing territory where activist teachers and educational groups have made it their chief concern to indoctrinate impressionable students with their beliefs on sexuality and identity”);

The Covid Debate Isn’t A Medical Issue, It’s A Social One” (“We’re lectured with wagging fingers that not getting vaccinated is the most entitled and self-absorbed action we could possibly conceive”).

Inevitably:

What Is Critical Race Theory And Why Is It Bad?” (“While I’m thankful for the numerous states that have passed laws banning Critical Race Theory (CRT), new concerns emerge as some zealous educators and activists seek to break the rules and proselytize their race-centric beliefs in the public school system”).

It’s just sounding like a parody now, right? Which may be why this week we got this absolutely bughouse item “The Director Of ‘Squid Game’ Says It’s About Capitalism, But It’s Really More Like Communism,” in which the author lectures filmmaker Hwang Dong-hyuk — who literally said “I wanted to write a story that was an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society” — that nuh uh, “Squid Game appears to actually show communism and authoritarianism more than it depicts capitalism,” and people only said it was about capitalism because “hating capitalism is trendy (think of popular hashtags like #eattherich),” not because the director said it was and most intelligent viewers saw it as such.

That story got Evie noticed and mocked outside of the closed universe of rightwing emulative culture product — perhaps for the first time — at which the author of Evie’s Twitter feed professed delight: “Our social media team would like to thank the communists for driving extra engagement on Twitter this week. Makes us look fantastic to our capitalist overlords.”

Though that looks like just another old-fashioned Dril “Keep screaming ‘Shut The Fuck Up’ at me it just makes my opinions worse” panic reaction, given the context, I think they really mean it. Though these grifters start out by trying to disguise and infiltrate, they eventually ditch the sheep’s clothing and just jump and down screaming about CRT and vaccine mandates, just like the rest of them.