Ella Whelan

Glamour’s ‘women of the year’ awards are a feminist farce

Glamour's 'women of the year' awards are a feminist farce
Text settings

Glamour magazine has announced its annual women of the year awards, and, this year, they’re naming a man of the year too. Paul Hewson - or as we know him, the prat in glasses, or, Bono - has been given the award for being one of the ‘most outspoken advocates for women and girls’.

Glamour certainly knows how to create a headline. Last year, it was transgender athlete Caitlyn Jenner who won woman of the year; this time round the magazine has gone for a smaller, less stylish, but equally annoying bloke to grab some attention. It was Bono’s ‘Poverty Is Sexist’ campaign, which draws attention to the fact that ‘powerful men can, and should, take on these deep-rooted issues’ that won him Glamour's accolade.

Bono is a pound-shop Bob Geldof and that’s not saying much. This is a man who once said ‘As a rock star, I have two instincts, I want to have fun, and I want to change the world. I have a chance to do both.’ An award as ridiculous as 'woman of the year' has found its perfect winner in the absurdity and self-congratulatory grandeur of Bono.

But many women are very unhappy about the U2 star being graced with Glamour’s award. ‘I, like you, assumed that Bono’s nomination was a result of some sort of hilarious administrative fuck-up’, wrote one columnist. ‘There is an uncomfortable feeling that no woman was good enough for the position’, wrote another. ‘Women do not have enough space in the world. That's the point. Stop giving away the little that we do have in some kind of weird attempt to curry favour with the boys,' wrote one very, very angry commenter. It seems that Glamour may have gone too far this year.

But all of this begs the question: who gives a damn about a magazine’s 'women of the year' awards? Since when did Glamour become the go-to source for women’s worth? In fact, the magazine’s 2017 shortlist shows how wrong their judgement of women’s value is. This year, alongside Bono, Glamour has announced that Emily Doe, the anonymous victim in the Brock Turner rape case, has been announced as a woman of the year for her letter to Turner which went viral. A woman who was raped and wrote a letter is now woman of the year. Should that award be given to all women who have been raped? What is it about being raped, a horrendous experience, that makes an exceptional woman? Forget the panic over Bono; this morbid honouring of a woman who most likely wishes none of what she’s nominated for had ever happened, is far more troubling.

These awards might seem strange, but Glamour’s annual honouring of women is merely the shallow end of a much deeper problem with contemporary feminism. That so many have taken these awards so seriously is deeply depressing. I love Glamour, I read it for the celebrity stories, the pretty pictures and the make-up advice. I don’t, however, use it as a political resource. But this is exactly what feminism has become - a ‘wimmins’ magazine. With calls for 50/50 quotas like Emma Watson’s #HeForShe campaign, celebrities going on about masturbation (oh wait, that was Emma Watson again) and periods becoming something that fashion brands use to sell clothes, is it any wonder that something as ridiculous as a 'woman of the year' award in a glossy magazine is being taken seriously?

Let Bono win this one; he could probably do with the publicity. Who cares about Glamour’s women of the year awards? What we should care about is this shallow and depressing descent of feminism into a preoccupation with appearance - who’s won what award - rather than a serious political movement to win women’s liberation.

Ella Whelan is assistant editor at spiked