Rolling Stone Subscription = Cancelled

by Cara on March 24, 2009

in assholes, media, misogyny, objectification, pop culture

I said a few weeks ago that I was planning to cancel my subscription to Rolling Stone magazine, due to their repeated misogyny and other prejudice.

Well, I hadn’t yet gotten around to it.  But then, this issue just landed in my mailbox:


The subscription to “random misogyny mag,” as my husband just called it, is officially cancelled.  They also got this email, along with my cancellation:

Dear Editors,

As a loyal subscriber to your magazine for many years, I have written you many letters, with increasing frequency, about the repeated misogyny and other prejudice displayed in your magazine’s pages.  From allowing Matt Taibbi to use misogynistic and homophobic slurs like “cocksucker,” to calling a transgender woman a “tranny,” to wondering not how to end intimate partner violence but how oh how Chris Brown will rebound his sales figures, you’ve ignored each and every email, both actually and in spirit.  Opening up my mailbox and seeing two women simultaneously fellating an ice cream cone was the absolute final straw.  I just cancelled my subscription, and I won’t be coming back.

Not that your liberal publication wants feminist female readers like me anyway.  Treating women like human beings is so the antithesis of sex, drugs, and rock and roll!  Wouldn’t want to water yourselves down, right?  Next thing you know, you’d be publishing cover stories about a show like Gossip Girl!

Oh, wait.

Good luck to you in the dwindling print media sector, Rolling Stone.  When your readers are so disposable, you’re going to need it.

So, dear readers, any suggestions on how I should replace said music magazine subscription?  Spin sucks, Blender is just as misogynistic to the best of my knowledge, and I found Paste to be downright pompous.  I’ve seen Mojo in stores and it looks alright, but I’ll be damned if their international subscriptions aren’t outrageous.  So . . . thoughts?


1 Renee March 24, 2009 at 8:28 am

Good for you! I firmly believe that we have to stop supporting magazines, movies and products that we know to be harmful. The only way these corporations are going to learn is if we refuse to support their behavior.

2 Rachel March 24, 2009 at 8:38 am


3 Jim March 24, 2009 at 8:39 am

Kristina tells me Pitchfork ( is good, if you don’t mind getting your music news online.

4 eruvande March 24, 2009 at 8:44 am

Why not just save the money? The better information from the magazine is probably available for free on the Internet and from a less skeezy source.

(I have never really gotten into magazines myself, so I don’t have a suggestion for a replacement music magazine…Seems like most anything pop-culture-related will be about as bad as RS. If you find a good replacement, will you let us know?)

5 Cara March 24, 2009 at 9:00 am

Why not just save the money? The better information from the magazine is probably available for free on the Internet and from a less skeezy source.

Yeah, but the thing is that I actually like magazines. Which may seem strange for a blogger, but while I read tons and tons and tons on the internet, I like having something physical to hold and read. Also, thanks to my brain’s associations, reading a magazine feels like a break, whereas reading on the internet, even if its fun, still seems strangely like work :)

6 eruvande March 24, 2009 at 9:08 am

Oh, I understand that for sure. :)

7 frau sally benz March 24, 2009 at 9:09 am

That email was the definition of awesome!

8 Crystal March 24, 2009 at 9:22 am

I don’t subscribe but I was turned off seeing the cover at a friend’s house. Is the media’s message for me sex is all I’m good for? I’m tired of it.

9 Cara March 24, 2009 at 9:50 am

Yes, Crystal, sadly that is precisely the message. This is what virtually every cover of Rolling Stone that features a woman looks like, by the way. Off the top of my head, I can think of two exceptions to the rule. One is Yoko Ono’s cover back in 1981, at which point she was a grieving widow. The other is the very recent cover of Taylor Swift, who is the opposite side of the virgin/whore dichotomy. So, yay. There’s progress for you!

10 Thealogian March 24, 2009 at 10:07 am

Bitch is always a fun read–Feminist examinations of pop-culture, super-duper.


Utne is fun as well…

11 Cara March 24, 2009 at 10:45 am

Oh well yeah, I totally read Bitch of course. I meant specifically a music magazine :)

12 sara March 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Nicely done, Cara! I canceled my Rolling Stone subscription years ago, but it was because they are too mainstream and I was tired of reading about John Mayer. Pitchfork is my go-to source, because it’s (gasp!) actually about music. For print sources, I recommend Under the Radar and Big Takeover.

13 Amber March 24, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I find that even feminist magazines are a dearth of non-sexist writing. Over the past couple years, Bitch seems to take the low-road too often, opting to be “hip & cool” rather than substantial. They co-sponsored an event with Hustler, for chrissakes (which you probably know about, as I think I heard about it on Feministe…) and that was when I cancellend my subscription with THEM and sent my own e-mail. And Ms. has never spoken to me, as a 3rd-waver. I love the books a lot of Ms. contributors have written, but the mag itself seems flat to me.

I like the New Yorker, even though it’s not strictly a music mag. It does have fantastic coverage of the arts, including pop culture, and I find their articles and essays to be insightful and thought-provoking, if not explicitly feminist.

14 Cara March 24, 2009 at 4:31 pm

They co-sponsored an event with Hustler, for chrissakes (which you probably know about, as I think I heard about it on Feministe…)

Um, nope. No idea what you’re talking about. If it was posted on Feministe, it was well before I started blogging there, and reading, I imagine.

But I agree about Ms., though.

15 jovan byars March 24, 2009 at 4:35 pm

I don’t like music mags. So, with that said, just don’t subscribe to anymore of them.

16 Eghead March 24, 2009 at 6:45 pm

I hate to pile on the shame here, but… it took this long for you to cancel? They’ve done way worse on their cover, like, for instance, the infamous pro-pedophilia cover with Britney Spears way back in ’97.

17 Tali March 24, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Good for you. Filter is where it’s at. And I like Harp for folksier music news.

18 Cara March 24, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Um, though I do indeed know the cover you’re talking about, I was 13 in ’97.

I’m just saying.

19 Cara March 24, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Meaning, yes, there are plenty of horrible things they done before (indeed, I’d argue that using a slur like “tranny” is far worse than the objectification on this cover), but that is just not the best example in my particular instance. And that I didn’t cancel based on this cover. As I said, it was the absolute final straw. Indeed, as noted, I had already decided that I no longer wanted the magazine, and this just gave me the push I needed to take the necessary 5 minutes to process a cancellation.

20 karak March 24, 2009 at 7:50 pm

I like Jane magazine, but it’s been kind of crap in the last few years.

21 Eghead March 24, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Yeah I was 8 in ’97. But it was everywhere.

But fair enough.

22 Cara March 24, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Haha, yeah, I didn’t mean that I didn’t see it — just that I didn’t exactly have a hugely developed feminist conscious at that point :)

23 emylie_bo_bemylie March 24, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Maybe “Venuszine” it’s mostly music but there’s also other arts and media stuff and some diy crafts. It’s cool because it’s very women-oriented, but it may not have enough coverage of all-male bands to be a comprehensive alternative. And it only comes out four times a year. But I’d definitely recommend checking it out. They had an issue, last spring I think, that was a feminist response to an article in Rolling Stone (I think) of 100 best guitarists or something and in the whole list there were like three women so Venuszine did the 100 best female guitarists so that was super awesome! It used to be called Venus but then there was confusion because there was a gay man’s lifestyle mag with the same name so they changed it to Venuszine. Here’s a link to their website:

24 Therese March 24, 2009 at 10:25 pm

good on ya! but I don’t know of any decent music magazine substitutes :( do tell us about it when you do find one!

25 DaisyDeadhead March 25, 2009 at 2:30 am

Good work, Cara. I get the discards for free, or I wouldn’t read it either… I certainly wouldn’t pay for it.

26 Paul March 25, 2009 at 3:23 am

It sadly just reflects the “boobs and beer” type of people that read it

That also happens in politics – for example the Democratic Party’s anti-black policies pre-1960s just reflected the beliefs of its’ white working-class base

27 depresso March 25, 2009 at 9:38 am

Having a similar issue with the Brisith music press. I’m a bit iffy on Mojo; I always have the impression that they just don’t take women musicians seriously at all. Don’t go near Q; even when they ‘celebrate’ women in music, it’s a token effort with random sexualization and careless misogyny.

I’ve been trying The Word which, tentatively, seems a bit more balanced. There’s actually women on the staff, even if they are way in the minority. But the cover CD art is always, always, always a drawing of a woman and it’s starting to bug me.

28 Cara March 25, 2009 at 10:08 am

Hmm. I was checking out The Word at Borders yesterday, and it looked alright. Maybe.

29 DCN March 25, 2009 at 1:47 pm

I’m pretty sure (not 100%) that I found some extremely offensive anti-gay language in Mojo a few years ago — if it was meant to be “ironic,” the irony was lost on me. It *may* have been another magazine. I wish I could remember so I could make sure they never got my money.

30 Elle March 26, 2009 at 11:08 am

Leaves me missing No Depression, again. Still.

31 Alexandrialeigh March 26, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Well, Blender just folded today, so that takes them out of the running anyway! Sad times for magazines, these days.

32 Meowser March 27, 2009 at 1:47 am

Off the top of my head, I can think of two exceptions to the rule. One is Yoko Ono’s cover back in 1981, at which point she was a grieving widow. The other is the very recent cover of Taylor Swift, who is the opposite side of the virgin/whore dichotomy.

In the 1970s and 1980s, and even as late as maybe 1991, they had on Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt a couple of times, and Tracy Chapman once, without ever making them take their clothes off or pose “sexy” (and all of them strike me as the kind of women who’d tell RS to jam the cover up their asses rather than pose for a picture like that).

On the other hand, they made Ann and Nancy Wilson, Bette Midler, Liz Phair, Tina Turner, and Patti Smith, among others, pose shirtless or in skimpy underwear — or, once in Phair’s case, butt naked except for a strategically placed guitar. And it seems that for about the last 15 years, that’s the only way they want a woman to pose for their covers. (Taylor Swift probably caught a break because she’s only 19 — no Britney, she.) That’s their audience — Guyville, as Phair once called it. Poo on ‘em.

If I’m gonna buy a mindless-twaddle magazine, I’ll make it Entertainment Weekly. At least they don’t pretend to be all progressive and profound when they’re not.

33 Gweem April 1, 2009 at 4:52 pm

I’d recommend the BMJ. Well, maybe not for music news. But it definitely seems to have a better attitude towards sexism.
I get the student version and, this month, they talked about rape as a medical emergency and highlighted, as unethical behaviours, a doctors refusing to allow a 14-year-old to have an abortion ‘because he wanted to teach her a lesson’ and intimate examinations without consent on unconscious, anaesthetised patients, in an article about speaking out against people higher up than you in the medical hierarchy. A previous issue called out people making comments about, say, overweight patients when they were out of earshot, on the grounds that, even when meant in jest, such remarks encourage attitudes which can lead to the impairment of a patient’s care (in this case, assuming fat people are lazy). This kind of feminism and enlightened thinking is increasingly more common in magazines for the traditionally middle-class and sometimes slightly more conservative medical readership, it seems – far more so that in the so-called modern ‘alternative’ magazines.

34 MomTFH April 3, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Great letter.

I don’t stay in touch via print mag. Not that I am really in touch. But, I listen to Sirius, and they have pretty good DJs and good alt niche stations, so I get exposed to new music.

35 Natalia April 6, 2009 at 5:31 am

I haven’t been home in the States for a while, but I thought Paste was alright when I first encountered it.

RS has some great articles, but I wish they objectified men more.

36 Heather O'Connor April 6, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Love the letter. I have an idea for you: subscribe to the print version of the Onion and read their A/V club music reviews.

37 Brittany September 15, 2009 at 4:07 pm

ALARM has stood for nearly 15 years as a bastion of freethinking music and art, unconstrained by the mainstream marketplace. Each issue features in-depth coverage of the up-and-comers as well as established underground bands, artists, and other integral, yet often below the radar, cultural figures, all presented in a unique, collector-quality book-style format featuring the best in modern music photography and stellar design.

You would love it!

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