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Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness --- and Liberalism --- to the Women of America Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312312873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312312879
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,989,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The story that began as an exciting movement for equal rights and morphed into a wonderful celebration of opportunity today has become a depressing, discouraging gains-means-pain tale of woe sold to women readers as the grim new reality of their lives," writes Blyth, editor-in-chief of Ladies' Home Journal from 1981 to 2002 and former publishing director of More, in this juicy insider's look into the $7-billion-a-year industry of women's magazines. These glossy rags, she says, peddle the message that women are the unhappy victims of a stress-filled world: they are too fat and too wrinkled, prone to disease, and overworked by their jobs and families. And, according to Blythe in this mea culpa, all the fear-mongering is underlined by the subtle, liberal message that more government will alleviate women's problems. The media divas who run what she calls this "Girls' club," from Harper's Bazaar editor Glenda Bailey to Katie Couric, are out of touch with middle-class American women, Blyth charges: they command the print and broadcast worlds from their sleek Manhattan offices, pay indulgently for an army of domestic help at home and, even worse, vote overwhelmingly Democratic. If her conclusion is a stretch and her critique of colleagues often catty and vituperative, many of Blyth's jabs at women's media seem to have merit. She challenges what she sees as the assumption by much of the media that all women think alike and are interested only in diet, fashion, sex appeal or stress relief. Whether this superficial content is the fault of liberals or conservativesâ€"or whether it's the market simply feeding demandâ€"remains less clear.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Blyth admits that, as editor in chief of Ladies' Home Journal, she helped create "the negative message of victimization and unhappiness that bombards women," complete with attention-grabbing headlines about weight problems or sexual dysfunction. But she is not taking the blame by herself: "I am certain that there is a liberal tilt in the media aimed especially at women"; that tilt, Blyth argues, helps make modern women unhappy. She explains that women's magazines (and TV) have a vested interest in female discontent because an unhappy woman is more likely to spend a few bucks in search of a panacea for her psychological, sexual, or physical ills. Further, Blyth bashes the Left on grounds that the Spin Sisters (her name for the female media elite) need women to think of themselves as victims if they are going to look for help from a liberal government. Blyth may not convince many liberals to change their politics, but she is an engaging writer, and she effectively makes the case that for many women--thanks to more education, better health, and independence--this is the best of times. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

This book was very informative and entertaining.
Adele
While I'm sure that Blyth is probably right that some (if not most) of these "threats" are exaggerated, she does not provide enough hard facts to prove her point.
unger814
The author very succinctly captures my thoughts and emotions regarding the topics she covers.
"lcallahan11"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Kimberley Wilson on April 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Finally somebdody says it out loud: Most women's magazines sell misery. About 10 years ago it dawned on me that reading my favorite magazines was well, depressing. All the articles were either about losing weight, (You arent' good enough as you are) or were about sex (You aren't good enough) or how to get a man,keep a man, change a man (Men are the enemy but you can tame one through clever manipulation)or seemed to be pushing some new crisis. They painted a picture of American women that makes us look dumb, helpless and under constant attack. The lifestyle magazines were bad but the fashion mags were even worse. And they all seemed to be pushing a political agenda.
Today I still read a lot of magazines but the Vogues, the Allures, Redbooks and Good Housekeepings don't cross my doorstep. Martha Blyth was actually part of the women's mag industry for many years. She took part in slinging the women's mag slop and admits it. The book is very good and explains completely why women's magazines are so dreary and how the readers are being manipulated.
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58 of 68 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I just received Spin Sisters via amazon.com. After reading the first chapter and laughing out loud five times, I jumped online this morning to order the book for my mother, sister, two sisters-in-law and my best friend. I love the humor and the sneak peek into the media world. This book is juicy, pithy, fun and infuriating all at the same time. Trust me, you'll LOVE it!
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50 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Blyth puts words to why I quit reading most Women's magazines some years ago. And, yes, she affirms our very strong opinions that the Katies, and the Dianes, and the ones whose names we don't know in magazines are all Liberal and spin like crazy....not that most of us hadn't already suspected that. All you have to do is take a look at the New York Social Diary web site and see them all schmooze with the Liberal elite of NY including Hillary Clinton. Read how they make heros of the certain Liberal women but generally ignore those on the other side of the political spectrum.
I still read "More Magazine" (but may soon stop if Hillary's on the cover again); Blyth started More but is no long involved apparently. However, Blyth was for many years editor of Ladies Home Journal and admits to some of the same offenses she finds in others, except she is not a Liberal.
She also points out how they paint women as stress-filled and proceed to tell stories guaranteed to make you lose sleep, even though the examples given are less likely to happen to most of us than an alien spacecraft landing on our roof. There are many, many revealing instances here of how they sucker women into their programs, and their magazines with bad news, scary stories.
Perhaps you've noticed how Barbara Walters likes to make people cry; how many magazine shows get in close on personal stories of loss or illness...some have admitted they want to make you care and to care enough to keep tuning in. And they will make into a mountain a molehill tidbit from the Health mavens, but then wonder why you are "stressed". (Oh no. This child was poisoned by a potato!....etc.)
You'll enjoy reading about the lunch crowd at Michael's in New York...
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45 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved it! And thanks to Myrna for validating my feelings about women's magazines. After so many years of reading these things, women start to feel as if they never measure up to the celebrities on the cover (whose lives are usually a mess behind the scenes, anyway). These magazines are driven by product advertising, ladies, and the more we remind ourselves of this fact, the less we'll be sucked in by their trends and the not-so-subtle message that we need to be "fixed" and made over! Thank you, thank you for this book!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on May 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
SPIN SISTERS is a book women and men, magazine writers and readers should read and will most definitely want to discuss. It will grab and hold your attention if not purely to satisfy your curiosity about a glitzy industry that touches many lives. As you might expect from its title, SPIN SISTERS is about several women media moguls who --- according to author Myrna Blyth --- mold and shape the minds of unsuspecting American magazine readers and television viewers.
These industry "sisters" --- namely Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric and Barbara Walters --- spin news to convince women that they are over-stressed, overworked and underappreciated, according to Blyth. Whether it's soft-pedaling questions to like-minded liberals or ignoring news that might not fit into their tilted field of vision, media queens are selling ideas, she says.
"...Nowadays the 'political information' you get, girlfriend to girlfriend, often has a definite 'one-perspective' liberal tilt. Believe me, I know the formula: disease and diets, sob stories and social issues, and stress, stress, stress. And I know the impact such a formula can have on one's ideas and emotions."
In essence, Blyth says, female media moguls have scared or convinced American women --- who enjoy more freedoms professionally and personally than ever before --- that they should feel sorry for themselves. And readers gobble it up.
"They are the media's Nay Nay Sisterhood who feel sorry for you because they feel so darn sorry for themselves," writes Blyth.
The meat of this story will come as no surprise to readers, but the author's candor might. Blyth, a tenured magazine editor and journalist, is at times downright caustic as she unveils the not-so-pretty side of her colleagues (in crime).
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