I have subscriptions to a lot of magazines. Like, 8. And that doesn’t include the 2 subscriptions I share with my mom, or the free subscription I have to Martha Stewart Living. Granted, I’m pretty good at getting deals on them- I pay about $5/year for 26 issues of ESPN Magazine. But still. For an environmentally-sensitive person like myself, it’s a bit extreme, but I can’t help it. I love magazines.
My periodical collection runs the gamut from girly (Cosmopolitan and Lucky) to issues that appeal to my more masculine sensibilities (Esquire). To illustrate what a frat boy I can be, I used to also subscribe to FHM and Maxim. I even had a letter to the editor published in FHM (PS – I got paid $50 for it!). Granted, they thought I was a dude (if they knew I was a chick, I would have only gotten $38.50).
There has always seemed to be something a bit off about women’s magazines- something that bugged me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. Finally, when I was trying to come up with details about what I would do differently (besides just create a female’s version of Esquire), I realized that every magazine whose target demographic was female was comprised only of advice on how to overcome our innate deficiencies- of character, ability, worth, and beauty. As far as Glamour, Cosmo, and Marie Claire are concerned, there isn’t anything wrong with you that a 6-week exercise regimen, new beauty product, and personality transplant can’t fix. Cosmo gives explicit directions on how to shake hands with people (make eye contact, grasp firmly, slight smile- those explicit directions are generally repeated in another type of Cosmo feature).
Conversely, men’s magazines treat every man like he is perfectly fine the way he is, but just in case he was wondering how to find good scotch, fine suits, and loose women, they have some suggestions. Esquire does not have quizzes for their readers to determine if they are too much of an attention-seeker. GQ may recommend their readers use moisturizer, but they certainly won’t condemn you if you don’t. It has never occurred to an editor at Details to give step-by-step instructions on how to meet women (then again, I’m not sure Details‘ readers are all that keen on meeting women). Men’s magazines treat each reader as a whole person, who doesn’t need a mate, perfectly groomed eyebrows, or a home that is welcoming to the opposite sex in order to be happy.
Men’s magazines also tend to respect the intelligence of their reader more than their counterparts. There are stories that involved research and investigative journalism and aren’t just about women who are being repressed. Hey, I’m all for stories about repressed women, don’t get me wrong. But women need to read about men who are oppressed. They need to know what their government is doing, and to assume we only care about that affects our uterus is insulting. For the record, my uterus will remain under my jurisdiction no matter what the Republican Party says.
Hearst, Conde Nast, Meredith, ACP, and all you other publishers: Women are smart and capable and just fine the way they are. Give them more credit. For pete’s sake, even Playboy treats women like they are beautiful creatures instead of works-in-progress.
But if you do find any fat-melting foods, will you let me know?