For this blog post, I analyzed this month’s editions of Cosmopolitan and Men’s Health. Throughout the journey of reading these magazines, I encountered many interesting articles which demonstrated the differences and similarities between men and women, as well as how society views them. Topics of particular interest included relationships, ageism, the evolution of masculinity and male roles, genderism, female-specific medical procedures, body anxiety, and sports.
One initial impression I gained after reading these magazines was that women care more about fostering relationships with men than vice versa (or, at least those constructing the articles feel this way). For instance, in the women’s magazine, several articles pertaining to relationships included, “What Your Favorite Dipping Sauce Says About Your Favorite Kind of Bad Boy,” “How to Tell if You’re Dating a Serial Killer,” and “Why the Whole Bridesmaids Thing Needs to Die.” In contrast, the men’s magazines featured no articles regarding wholesome relationship topics.
As I flipped through the pages of these magazines, I also noticed the men’s magazine featured pictures of older men—in fact, seventy-two year old Arnold Schwarzenegger was the cover star—while the women’s magazine consisted of no pictures of older women. Instead, it included content regarding beauty regiments, products, and lifestyle changes that could help women maintain their youth. Clearly, this observation plays into society’s reverence of older men for their sexiness, and its devaluing of older women for unattractiveness. Certainly, this ideology is linked to differences between male and female fertility in one way or another.
Remarkably, the men’s magazine reflected that males are becoming more self-reliant than in previous years, as it featured articles on cooking, haircare, and clothing. Moreover, men seem to care a great deal about their physique and working out to reinforce their masculinity. Interestingly, the men’s magazine also featured an area devoted to sports, whereas the women’s magazine had no articles, let alone a section, concerning sports. Of course, it makes sense sports would be covered in a men’s magazine, as they are commonly affiliated with male interests. Further, after reading both magazines I concluded that men and women care almost equally about sex, food, and health, on the basis of how many pages these topics were allotted.
In the women’s magazine, I read a particularly alarming article in which the side effects of a common gynecological procedure were discussed. Apparently, every year thousands of women undergo loop electrosurgical excisional procedures, or LEEPs, to rid the cervix of irregular cells in effort to prevent cervical cancer. However, prior to undergoing such surgeries, many women are not made aware that potential side effects might include the inability to orgasm, painful sex, and permanent numbness in genital areas. Though results of relevant studies have proven this to be possible, many doctors consider the issue to be psychological rather than physical. Thus, when female patients surface post-procedure with questions relating to sex, they are often disregarded altogether or referred to a psychiatrist.
I have to ask myself if men, in a similar situation, would be treated the same way as these women. I am also curious if gender played a role in the evident lack of sympathy displayed by the doctors mentioned in this article. If the doctors were male, I wonder if they cared less about the wellbeing of these female patients. After all, despite the inability of such women to feel anything during sex, intercourse would still be pleasurable for the man. Thus, the woman’s sexuality is deemed less important.
In the men’s magazine, I read an interesting article about how issues typically reserved for women are now becoming relevant to men, particularly in relation to body image. Seemingly, men are feeling more pressure now than ever before about how they look. This could be attributed to many things—a common example could be the rise of social media. However, I wonder if the increase of women stepping into predominantly male roles plays into this at all. Men could subconsciously feel in competition with themselves and women to assert their dominance through physical traits such as muscles and chiseled abs.
After examining these magazines, I also noticed the colors and fonts of the titles were different from one another, and that they catered toward the perceived liking of the intended audiences. For instance, the title of Cosmopolitan jumps from the page in bright pink hue and feminine font, while the title of Men’s Health is shaded an aggressive deep red with a far more masculine font. Similarly, I also noticed these magazines adhered somewhat strictly to these target audiences, and featured little representation for LGBTQ+ readers.
Surveying these magazines has opened my eyes to many engrained societal views of gender. As a result of widespread acclimation to these beliefs, it seems to become relatively simple to forget they exist. However, through careful analysis, I was able to regain awareness of such underlying perceptions. Ultimately, I look forward to continuing my pursuit of knowledge pertaining to the dynamics of gender and society.
Dorment, Richard, ed. 2019. Men’s Health, October.
Pels, Jessica, ed. 2019. Cosmopolitan, October.