Presentation on theme: "Before Maxim Before Maxim, the mens lifestyle magazine category was dominated by GQ and Esquire. Men didnt have much choice when it came to magazines."— Presentation transcript:
Before Maxim Before Maxim, the mens lifestyle magazine category was dominated by GQ and Esquire. Men didnt have much choice when it came to magazines. Mostly porn magazines Playboy, sports or niche magazines like Popular Mechanics.
Maxim Since its debut in 1998 has grown from 750,000 circulation to 2.5 million. Target audience 20-30 something white heterosexual men. Content: Sex, sports, beer, gadgets, clothes and fitness.
The Laddish Fun Maxim promotes laddish forms of Masculinity as opposed to the new man image found in Esquire of the well- dressed, sensitive, professional white man.
Some researchers have attributed the success of Maxim to the uneasiness men feel about their gender identity. The traditional roles men held in the past are no longer necessary. With more women in the workplace, men no longer are the primary breadwinners. The need to be married or stay married is not as important in todays society. Single dads and moms and blended families are the norm. Women are better educated and more assertive in than in the past and therefore, less reliant financially and emotionally on men.
–What made these new mens magazines so popular? In a 1999 Communication and Mass Media article, Patricia J. Thompson, professor of education and women's studies at City University of New York's Lehman College, attributed the success of magazines such as Maxim as an ego gap between growing up male in the 90s and the machismo of their dads and granddads. ``I think a lot of men feel emasculated because their dads and grandfathers were so macho. Now that women are becoming self-reliant, men are very unsure of themselves,'' she writes. (Brody).
This paper will explore the function of mens lifestyle magazines in the life of the modern male as well as the forms of masculinity as presented in Maxim and Mens Health. Researchers argue the new generation of mens lifestyle magazines defines the (social and cultural) construction of heterosexual masculinity (Boni, p. 472). Heterosexual masculinity, as presented in the magazines, is characterized by success, status, toughness and dominance. The magazines provide an oasis of masculinity in an increasingly feminized world.
According to Media Week, the new generation of mens magazines are a sometimes lowbrow but often genius mix of hot women, cold brew, sports, fashion, health and fitness, advice columns, film and music reviews, and celebrity interviews presented in short, easy to read snippets often illustrated by cartoons (Case). Maxim makes the assumption if you are a heterosexual male you will be interested in sports, beer and sex. The magazine leaves little room for doubt about what it views as masculine interests.
Mens Health is aimed at an older more affluent audience but also white and heterosexual. It features a wide variety of self-help advice about health, nutrition, relationship but the main focus of the magazine is building muscle. Researchers have interpreted this focus on the body as a control strategy (Jackson, et. al., 2001, Boni 2002, Stibbe, 2004). Mens Health
In a world of changing gender relations and identities, your body is the one thing you can control. The male body becomes a project to be transformed into a symbol of dominance through exercise, nutrition and grooming. The male body is desirable and desiring one, concerned with health, fitness and beauty, issues which define an embodied masculine lifestyle (Boni, p. 466).
Magazine a Buddy Jackson, et al. argues men in the twenty-first century face increasing anxieties about their identities and lives. Culturally and socially, men arent encourage to express their feelings or form intimate relationships with other men, so it is difficult for men to discuss health and relationships problems. The magazine becomes the big brother, friend or father the reader can turn to for advice and reassurance about social behavior, relationship, sex and health without the uncomfortable emotional issues (Boni, p. 473).
The ambivalence men feel about the advice is signaled by the ironic tone in which the magazines present such information to their readers (p. 2). By using humor and irony, the Maxim reader doesnt feel obligated to take the advice seriously because if the advice written seriously it would mean there was something wrong with the reader. Irony in the magazine is usually reserved for some of the articles about relationships or male competitors in the workplace irony is not used in features discussing body transformation (p. 106)
Traditionally, health is a female not male concern. Men are less likely to visit a doctor than women and more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol consumption, smoking bad diet and risking taking. This buddy is a deliberate creation of the magazine…The buddy acts as an intermediary, explaining and interpreting medical science for the reader (p. 36, Stibbe). Mens Health becomes the trusted buddy expert giving advice to a friend
Are the magazines a backlash against feminism or are they new models of male identity to modern men? (Gauntlett, p. 152). While researchers have found geographic location, class, race, sexual orientation and family background, influence attitudes toward male identity, this paper will limit the discussion to hegemonic masculinity. The definition of hegemony is power that makes people act as if it were natural, normal, or simply a consensus. In the case of masculinity, traditional characteristics of masculinity are made to seem so correct and natural that men find…domination…not just expected, but actually demanded (Stibbe, p. 33).
No sissy stuff refers to the stereotypical differences between men and women. Physically, men are supposed to have deep voices, avoid of cosmetics and be indifferent to clothing and hygiene. Emotionally, they are supposed to repressed their feelings and avoid showing affection to other men. Behaviorally, men scoff at traditional female activities such as parenting, housework or the arts (Alexander, p. 537).
The Big Wheel refers to a mans ability to obtain fame, wealth, status and success. It is most associated with a mans occupation. The Big Wheel role is under threat as more women enter the workforce and influence consumer spending (Alexander, p. 537).
The Sturdy Oak The Sturdy Oak is self-reliant, confident and manly as illustrated by John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart (Alexander, p. 537). According to Messages Men Hear: Constructing Masculinities by Ian Harris (1995), nine messages illustrate modern expectations for men: be like your father; be a faithful husband, Good Samaritan, law, nature lover, nurturer, rebel, scholar and technician (Alexander, p. 538).
Give Em Hell men emit an aura of aggression and violence and use it to obtain sex from women (p. 537). Political or social movements such as feminism, gay rights, racial and ethnic equality or military impotence are viewed as a threat to the dominant, white heterosexual culture. Homophobia is a central organizing principle of our cultural definition of manhood (p. 538).
–Anthony Giddens theory of structuration proposes social structure is created by the repetition of individual random acts such as traditions, institutions, moral codes and established ways of doing things. But social forces can be changed when people start to ignore them, replace them or reproduce them differently (Gauntlett, p. 93). These expectations of how something or someone should be make up social forces and social structures that sociologists talk about (Gauntlett, p. 94). When men or women challenge the taken-for-granted consensus about they should behave, it disrupts societys faith in everyday routines and expectations.(Gauntlett, p. 95).
–The increase divorce rate, women wage earners and single head of households, signal a breakdown of the nuclear family. As women assert their autonomy in the workplace, household and society, men are abandoning the role of breadwinner. Some researchers feel, the new generation of mens lifestyle magazines has been influential in changing mens attitudes toward masculinity, self-identity and body image by introducing men to self-help, exercise, nutrition, relationship and sex articles as well as a vast array of designer clothing and cosmetic products. While format and information available in the magazines is very similar to womens magazines, the content and tone is decidedly different.
Avoiding the Trap –The new self as championed by the magazines focuses the possibility of a self realizing its deepest desire not through sacrifice and duty but through the tragedies and triumphs of love and sex (Jackson, et al, p. 80). Many of the articles in the magazines celebrate virtues of bachelorhood and warn against the traps of conventional heterosexual marriage (Jackson, et. al. p. 81).
–In the December 2004 issue of Maxim, the Says Her column is advice from former madam Jody Babydol Gibson. The opening line asks the reader Unless exerting your pea-size brain gives you a thinkache, chances are youve wondered what it would be like to have your own harem. Babydol dispenses a variety of relationship advice such as paying for sex as way to spice up relationships and kill the urge to cheat; pleasuring yourself before a date so you can make interesting conversation about Julia Roberts movies without the distraction of wondering what color panties your date is wearing;
engaging in mindless sex with anonymous girls so as long as you keep everything 100 percent safe with no exchange of names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses or any other way to get back in touch, my advice is this: Keep up the good work. In addition to the advice, the column includes a mix and match quiz of celebrities who have either cheated or used a prostitute (p. 80-84).
–Sex on the Brain by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. in the December 2004 issue of Mens Health emphasizes biochemical differences between men and women. For instance, Amen writes: –Her goals are programmed for long range; your are often shockingly short term…The whole encounter can leave you quivering with pleasure, hoping for more. It can also hijack and ruin your life. And between the walk and don walk signals of delight and disaster, your brain is sorting information, making choices, spurring actions. But you dont want to passively accept all that, especially because your whole life is riding on the choices you make (p. 158).
Body Politics Despite the title, Mens Healthbody building not necessarily health is the focus of the magazine. Each issue devotes numerous pages on transforming and strengthening the readers body through weight lifting. The December 2004 issue even has a pullout poster of a weight lifting routine. Because bodybuildng fetishezes muscles, it further exaggerates gender-based characteristics…that are…loaded with cultural meaning…The construction of the ideal man as hugely muscular therefore serves the ideological goal of reproducing male power (Stibbe, p. 38).
Many negative behaviors are associated with muscle building and masculinity. Arran Stibbe analyzing magazines from the year 2000 found Mens Health defining masculinity in the areas of food consumption and sexuality. Emphasis on convenience foods, grilling red meat and belittling vegetables was standard fare in the magazine. Researchers have found diet a major contributing factor to cancer and heart disease in men, particularly detrimental is the consumption of animal fat and cholesterol found in read meat.
Currently, men live six years less than women. Researchers believe not just biological but psychological, social and behavioral factors contribute to the reduction of years. Despite the statistics, according to Stibbe, the magazine never suggests reducing red meat intake. Instead, meat, and particularly beef, is consistently associated with positive images of masculinity. The primary connection is via muscle (p. 39)
Eat Meat According to Stibbe, beef is associated with power and luxury. Beef comes from the largest and most muscular farm animal. In addition, raising cattle consumes more resources than growing vegetables therefore more expensive symbolizing status and wealth. If men are encouraged to eat a lot of meat, that places men collectively in a higher class than women (p. 41).
Building muscle and reducing fat with the goal of looking lean and muscular are ways of staving off age. Like womens magazines, Mens Health encourages anxiety in its readers by promoting an ideal of hard body masculinity that most of its readers will be unable to attain without enormous effort. Just as men face an increasingly uncertain future in the workplace, so their bodies become places of intense anxiety and scrutiny in terms of their inevitable decline (Jackson, et al, p. 94).
The Consumer –In addition to developing a hard body, men create identity by the products they choose. Emphasis on grooming, fashion and consumerism was once considered feminine characteristics but in the new economy masculinity is no longer defined by what a man produces but what he consumes (p. 551, Alexander.). Branded masculinity is rooted in consumer capitalism wherein profit can be produced by generating insecurity about ones body and ones consumer choices and then providing consumers with the correct answer or product in articles and advertisements (Alexander, p. 551).
Branded Masculinity –In a consumer society, men and women increasingly define gender by the products they buy. By creating different forms of masculinity, such as the new man, the lad, and the fitness buff, corporations increase sales and profits at the expense of any authentic understanding of what masculinity really means today (Alexander, p. 552).
Conclusion –Like womens magazines, mens magazines give plenty of advice on how to behave, what to wear, what to buy, what eat, who to date, etc., suggesting that men are insecurely trying to find their place in the modern world. (Gauntlett, p. 380). In a society where identities are not given but constructed, the magazines provide reassurance to men who are wondering, Is this right? and Am I doing this OK? (Gauntlett, p. 380).