Writing by Sophie Pellegrini // Illustration by Marie Gosselin
When Freya and I first got the ball rolling on Tigress, there was a moment when we questioned if we should just entitle the project “Tigress Magazine” or “Tigress Magazine for Girls.” Would adding “for girls” be exclusive or contradict our goals? As you are likely aware, we decided on keeping “for Girls.” At the core, Tigress was created with the intentions of creating an online magazine made up of content both for and by female-identifying teenagers, and we wanted the name to reflect that.
We live in a world that ultimately relies on a gender binary (though people are becoming more progressive in the understanding that gender is fluid and shouldn’t be limited to a binary system). Therefore, unsurprisingly, mainstream magazines are most often created with either females or males in mind. Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Allure, Marie Claire, Seventeen, Dolly, and Girlfriend are all published for and consumed (primarily) by a female audience.
These mainstream media magazines have powerful negative effects on young girls as they grow and mature, and that’s not just my opinion. A plethora of research shows that mainstream media, when internalized by teenage girls, can have serious negative effects on cognitive and emotional functioning, as well as mental and physical health, of these adolescents. Most of these studies come to the same ultimate conclusion: the media presented to female youth needs to change if we want to see an improvement in the sexualization and sexual development of teen girls, in eating disorder and body issues, in self-esteem, and beyond.
Now, let me be clear: I believe that problems also exist within the messages mainstream media directs at boy (such as how mainstream media teaches boys they shouldn’t play with dolls or express sensitive emotions outwardly) and also warrant attention. Tigress just isn’t the platform that tackles this issue directly– and there isn’t a fault in this. Focusing on the media’s effects on teen girls through Tigress does not diminish our belief in the dire need for a dialogue on male-centered problems as well. Tigress is only one small step of many needed to try to improve society for everyone in it.
Unfortunately, something a lot of people seem to not understand is that the existence of one thing does not necessarily contradict with the existence of another thing. For example, acknowledging female sexual trauma survivors does not mean silencing or denying male sexual trauma survivors; similarly, when someone speaks out about cat-calling, they are not therein asserting that females are the only people to be harassed on the streets. I think this is one of the primary issues that leads to misunderstandings and misgivings about feminism–a lot of people assume that feminists act to advance the female condition to the detriment of males. (These beliefs come from the same place that leads individuals to respond to anti-violence-against-women movements with comments like, “Men get raped too!” If you’re this person, I encourage you to do some research and come to understand why this is a problematic response. Here’s a hint: drop the “too,” buddy.)
We didn’t slap on “For Girls” with the intention of building an exclusive girls-only clubhouse that locks out all boys, or of making a fuck-you statement to men. Actually, we think people of any gender identification would appreciate a lot of what we share on Tigress, and of course, any human being is welcome to the content we share. Our contributors speak about issues that relate to the general human experience– living with mental illness, coping with the end of a friendship, the joy of indulging in a passion, to name a few– BUT much of our content is created specifically with girls in mind as the audience, as they speak directly to the female experience. We have articles giving tips for girls travelling alone, because we face certain unique risks and threats due to our gender that men do not. We have articles about things to do when menstruating, as this is something primarily (but certainly not exclusively) experienced by the girls. We have articles on the taboo around female masturbation that simply does not existence for male masturbation. Tigress hopes to celebrate and make sense of all of the wonders, joys, struggles, and confusions of girlhood; to provide a safe space where female-identifying individuals can be part of a global community that supports and understands shared experiences; to provide teen girls with a platform to share their creative work, be heard, and be acknowledged for all that they are; while simultaneously promoting a feminism that is always intersectional– we will always try to incorporate non-cis, trans, gender queer individuals in the content we share.
Tigress is still young. We have been online for less than 2 years. Like a 2 year old child or a teenager, we are growing, learning, expanding, and developing every day. We are far from perfect, and we don’t claim to be. We don’t have all the answers. We won’t do everything just right. We won’t singled-handedly save the world. Sometimes we will make mistakes. Sometimes we will post content that you disagree with (that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, by the way). Our content won’t be enjoyed by every person who opens our website or scrolls through our Instagram feed. But from the bottom of our hearts, Freya and I believe in Tigress Magazine for Girls. We believe in the importance of what we are doing. We hope you do too.[share]