Whether you’re a demographer, a marketer or a high-school sports coach, gender is one of the most convenient and accepted ways to slice and dice humanity.

Advertisers are no exception: when brands seek to add customers, they often devise gender-specific strategies. Handily, the “women’s interest” section at the average newsstand or supermarket offers a ready-made outlet to get product in front of correctly gendered pairs of eyes.

As a result, decades of women have wondered why their “interests” seemed to revolve primarily around weight loss, getting (or keeping) a man, marriage, childbirth, and a limited range of appropriately feminine hobbies. Second-wave feminist titles like Ms. magazine pointed toward broader possibilities, but these were the exception rather than the rule.

This status quo once seemed unassailable, but women are no longer buying it. “Women’s interest” titles have suffered declining fortunes in recent years on both sides of the Atlantic. In August 2016, UK media measurement body ABC reported that women’s weeklies had registered an 8.4% year-on-year decline in circulation for the first half of the year. Meanwhile, US publishing trade group MagNet found that, in 2015, newsstand revenues from women’s magazines declined by around 14.5% on the previous year, outpacing overall declines in newsstand magazine sales (13%).

It’s no surprise that publishers are struggling across the board as consumers have shifted away from print in favor of digital, and that trend certainly explains some of the decline. But something more fundamental is happening: women simply refuse to consume media in publications that reflect the silos that are convenient for advertisers.

“There was this idea that if you’re interested in fashion, you couldn’t also be interested in politics,” explains Sam Baker, a former editor of Cosmopolitan and Red. “The idea was that the people who wanted to buy lipstick were in some way stupid, and the politics people were much too serious for lipstick.”

Fed up with such notions, Baker launched The Pool, a multi-media site for women on the move, in 2015. Articles cover topics from Scandinavian fashion to new UK prime minster Theresa May, from sexism in sports to the latest buzzworthy binge-watch on Netflix. “Obviously, we have a targeted user who is predominantly female,” Baker continues. “But I think the whole idea of the ‘women’s interest’ magazine section is just gone.”

Ladybeard, a UK print title launched in 2015, has the high-quality production values of the standard glossy but aims to “revolutionize the content.” Coeditors Kitty Drake, Madeleine Dunnigan and Sadhbh O’Sullivan chafe at “women’s interest” media, finding its financial motives all too apparent. “It’s in their interest to promote certain ‘interests’ to women, and therefore define an idea of ‘womanhood,’ which leads to the kind of prescriptive, heteronormative, reductive portrayals of women that we see today—the ‘beach body ready’ ladies, the ‘girl squad’ feminism,” the editors tell us. “These images of empowerment are simply commercial gimmicks—to sell us more products and make us feel lacking.”

Print and the Modern Woman

Mainstream publishers are racking their brains as they try to monetize the browsing habits of the mobile-first media consumer, and the relentlessly transforming world of digital publishing leaves less room for experimentation and error than ever. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that some of the most innovative women’s content is appearing in the comparatively calm and relaxed medium of print. The current wave of print-first innovation in women’s media arguably kicked off with the 2010 launch of The Gentlewoman, a fashion magazine for “modern women of style and purpose.”

The title’s unconventional cover choices—the fashion photographer Inez van Lamsweerde sporting a fake beard, or the actress Angela Lansbury, 86 years old at the time, in a pair of thick-rimmed aviator sunglasses—helped set the tone for print titles eager to celebrate women for their brains and achievements, without regard for traditional male-derived notions of sex appeal.

2013 saw the launch of Cherry Bombe, a biannual title devoted to celebrating women and food (covering the first issue, Fast Company invited readers to “meet two women crazy enough to launch a print magazine”—cofounders Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu). Cherry Bombe doesn’t publish articles online, but still manages to be a multimedia company: it has a robust social media following, a radio show, and regular “Jubilee” events. Another 2013 launch, Riposte, calls itself a “smart magazine for women.” The magazine’s sixth issue, released in July 2016, profiles activists from Charlie Craggs, who is taking aim at transphobia through creative use of nail art, to Peggy Oki, an environmental activist using origami to draw attention to the plight of whales and dolphins.

Some of the more experimental print-only outlets draw their aesthetic cues, ironically enough, from the internet. Mushpit, a women’s magazine that satirizes the fashion industry, has tapped into digital nostalgia, drawing design cues from early clip art and vaporwave aesthetics. The editors of Hotdog magazine, a poetry journal, pull design references from brutalism, DIY/zine culture, QR codes, cursors and grid lines, and New Aesthetics—a term that refers explicitly to the emergence of digital design in the physical world.

Megan Conery and Molly Taylor, the editors of Hotdog, created their journal as a joyful antidote to the fustiness of most poetry publishing, and a product of women’s creativity for everyone to enjoy. “We still see a huge discrepancy between the number of women and men published in journals. So by having a completely female-identifying contributor base, we are acknowledging that fact as well as working to rectify that,” they say. “We have more female readers than male, but Hotdog isn’t directed at any gender— and we would say that it’s part of the problem if male readers aren’t interested in reading female writers.”

Digital Media Meets Online Feminism

One of the ironies of the current moment is that at a time when “women’s interest” appears to be sliding toward irrelevancy, women’s online media is enjoying a new golden age. In the past two to three years, longstanding female-focused sites such as Jezebel and The Hairpin have been joined by new voices, including the Vice Media vertical Broadly, Reductress (a “feminist equivalent of The Onion”), and many others. The newcomers are emerging alongside an online culture of feminist activism that has brought issues including the socalled “tampon tax” and campus rape further into the public eye than ever.

Not content to disrupt traditional notions of “women’s interest,” online platforms are also approaching specific age cohorts in new ways. The Midult, founded in 2016, aims to reach 35- to 55-year-old women with a voice that recognizes their sophistication and broad range of interests. “This generation of women are the first generation to grow old without checking out, so there has to be a shift,” says cofounder Emilie McMeekan. “Traditional media hasn’t caught up with that. We’ve grown up digitally literate and hyperconnected, and the messages that brands are sending us don’t ring true.”

The new outlets also typically include content about a broader range of gender identities and sexualities than women’s titles in previous eras. Brooklyn startup The Front, which founder Thalia Mavros describes as an outlet of “media by women, for the world,” is planning a full launch for fall 2016. One of the company’s first projects is New Deep South, a video series that tells the stories of young queer people, not all female-identified, living in parts of America that rarely celebrate or even acknowledge their LGBT communities.

The “women’s interest” section isn’t wholly oblivious to inclusive approaches to gender: In June 2016, Women’s Running magazine featured 33-year-old Tumblr software engineer and entrepreneur Amelia Gapin on its cover—the first time a trans woman had occupied the position. At a time when transgender athletes are struggling to claim their rightful place in sports, the move was greeted as an important step for trans visibility. And yet, with fitness-related content now so readily available online and in general interest publications, this was one of the few times the magazine’s name was heard by women outside its niche, enthusiast audience. One has to wonder: progressive or not, does Women’s Running exist today because women want it, or because it’s a convenient vehicle for advertisers?

Media For All Genders

For many editors of newer titles, thinking of their readership in terms of all genders, as opposed to “both” genders or just one, is intuitive, even as this line of thinking undermines the logic of “women’s interest” media at its most fundamental level. For many, the future of media lies somewhere beyond “women’s interest,” where female contributions are acknowledged, but content and authenticity are more important.

Ladybeard is a feminist publication but it is not just for women; we are trying to play with gender, rather than dictate its terms,” say editors Drake, Dunnigan and O’Sullivan. “This is ever more urgent, as we see mainstream media move from demonizing feminism to co-opting it.” Ladybeard’s forthcoming second issue takes the mind as its starting point, interrogating the idea of the gendered nature of the brain, exploring racial discrimination in mental health, looking at how emotions have changed across centuries, and investigating the therapeutic potential of LSD. By looking at “a multitude of perspectives, from different ages, races, genders, and sexualities, we hope to offer a more holistic, organic and radical perspective,” say the editors.

The magazine Girls Like Us features work by “an international expanding community of women from all genders within arts, culture and activism” with the aim of “mapping new routes towards a feminist, post-gender future.” A recent contribution by gender non-conforming writer and activist Grace Dunham, for example, points out YouTube’s role as an archive of trans visual history.

Winter Mendelson, founder and editor-in-chief of Posture magazine, sees the next generation of readers as far less beholden to conventional gender standards than those who came before. “If you’re born with internet access and you have an iPad from when you’re five years old, you’re going to see things that help you feel more like yourself,” says Mendelson. “Social media and Tumblr and all these creative platforms have helped these kids even subconsciously be like, ‘Oh yeah, I don’t relate to gender.’”

Posture is a New York–based arts and fashion magazine that was born out of Mendelson’s frustration at the lack of media specifically spotlighting queer visual culture. Considering that the whole concept of “queer” aims to blur the gender binary, it seemed odd to them that even queer publications typically skewed either masculine or feminine. Instead, Posture is about the “creative exploration of identity.” Its latest issue is themed around the concept of ornamentation.

“I see different media outlets popping up saying we’re the new women’s voice, treating you like an intelligent human being that you are, and not this shell of a thing,” Mendelson says. There’s nothing wrong with dedicated spaces for female-identified voices, they think, but too often this becomes an excuse for companies and others to impose their own definitions of womanhood on readers.

“If we were moving toward gender neutrality, and everyone targeted the same and treated the same, that sounds like utopia for me,” says Mendelson. “The point of Posture is to bring together all these people of different genders and backgrounds into one place, because it’s a huge statement: we all really are in it together.”

This article was originally published in Glass magazine.