From behind closed doors to up front in Cosmo: Domestic violence: How the magazine reflected and promoted a changing agenda

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Ever since Betty Friedan’s 1963 Feminist Mystique cultural critiques of mainstream women’s magazines have focused on them as trivial, regressive or handmaidens of vapid consumer culture.
While women’s magazines are a miscellany which enables a a multitude of perspectives and interests to be covered within one issue—albeit tailored closely to the target readership—this viewpoint has resulted in the gender-based advocacy role of women’s magazines being under evaluated, although this is now being challenged by writers as geographically diverse as Le Masurier in Australia and Ytre-Arne in Norway.
This study will analyse UK Cosmopolitan’s editorial coverage of domestic violence and will seek to investigate why a mainstream women’s magazine which emphasised that young women should be both assertive and independent would choose to give considerable editorial coverage (in one case running a year-long campaign) to an issue in which the dominant narrative was one of woman-as-victim . Domestic violence also only became a matter that was not considered “private” in 1976 so for the first thirty years of the magazine, only became a focus of mainstream media when it became a major crime story. This meant that a magazine that had flouted its notoriety through male centrefolds was also campaigning on an issue that was both hidden and only marginally within the public sphere.
The study will map if, how and why coverage changed over time through using content analysis set against the historic and legal context. It will also examine how much the role of particular personalities was involved and will pose the question as to whether such coverage was driven by the ideology of the magazine or also served a commercial purpose.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2016


  • Cosmopolitan Domestic violence


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