I'm a big fan of writer Roxane Gay—she has a knack for coolly distilling complex issues into their simplest, most essential components—and she just published a smart piece on Salon about the way magazine trend pieces handle gender:
Every day we are presented with a breathless article about the choices women make as if these choices are intrinsically bound with grand revelation. Women love sex or hate sex. They want kinky sex or casual sex or prefer straight missionary style. They fake orgasms. They don’t. They want children. They don’t. They exercise or drink or eat exotic foods while pregnant or don’t. They breastfeed or don’t (cf. the infamous Time breastfeeding cover). They co-sleep with their children or don’t. They enter this field or that (or they fail or succeed in “having it all”). Each of these inquiries treats women as anthropological subjects, heretofore unknowable when, in fact, women are just as unique and common as men.
I think this is exactly right. I'm familiar with the feeling, after reading an article about how I should or shouldn't have a baby, should or shouldn't marry young (haha too late), that the author of the article is trying to contextualize my experiences for me, to tell me something about my life that I don't already know. But I do know, because I'm living it. Or, Gay puts it:
Women are a cultural mystery that must be solved, and solutions are often advanced through trend journalism.
It's a great piece, and worth a read.