On Zadie Smith, Magazines and Lying

In one of her articles, Zadie Smith invokes a UK women’s magazine’s claim that only 2% of girls think that it is intelligence that a man looks for first in a girlfriend. Even granting, for the present, that the magazine is truthfully reporting the girls’ beliefs, this does not mean that they are correct in that belief. Women could falsely disbelieve that men are interested in female intelligence for all sorts of reasons, for example by seizing on the men who like dumb blondes as being typical and ignoring all the exceptions to their rule – or by projecting their own superficial preferences onto men.

But it is most unlikely that the magazine is reporting truthfully, as opposed to simply making the whole thing up; as we all know, 85.67% of all statistics are invented. For the magazine has a vested interest both in lying about what its readers think and in actively inducing them to believe its lies. Its solvency depends on cosmetics advertisers, and so the magazine is compelled to persuade its readers that men care for nothing except the good looks that the women can only obtain from spending half their incomes on the sponsors’ products. Zadie Smith’s celebrated critical sense does not appear to extend as far as to magazine economics.

Posted on June 19, 2012 at 10:36 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: WHAT WOMEN WANT, The Copernican Revolution

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