The Gendered Rhetoric of Slick Magazines A brief look at men’s and women’s magazines from the summer of 1999
Who is the audience for these magazines? • Both capitalize on popularity of Austin Powers movies • How are models dressed? • Michael Myers in pinstripes • Heather Graham in bra • What do magazines promise? • “Mirth, Merriment, and Abject Hilarity” • “Guys and Sex: What they think about foreplay, experienced women and lust vs. love”
The Importance of a Magazine Cover In 1980, Ms. won a journalism award for a story providing an intimate view of Soviet women’s lives. Because the Soviet women on the cover were not wearing makeup, the article undid years of effort to get an ad schedule from Revlon.
Maxim “This recent addition to the rack is worse than pornography. It insults men’s intelligence with immature gags and remote-control user guides. It degrades women as possession-obsessed sex kittens who are tricked into bed and like it. Know what? It’s selling like mad in Middle Tennessee. One distributor says he can barely keep it in stock in Green Hills.” --from “Pictures AND words: Men’s magazines come of age” by Mike Kilen in the Aug. 26, 1998 issue of The Tennessean
Alcohol ad from Maxim “Adding Grand Marnier to a margarita is also quite enticing.” Grand Marnier It Changes Everything Tiny Text in Upper Left Corner: “Drink with style. Drink responsibly.”
Alcohol ad from Cosmopolitan • “Women and men like different things.” • “Seagram’s Coolers. It’s what women like.” • Nothing more at stake here than whether toilet lid is up or down.
Evian ad from Seventeen • Uses sex to sell water • Appeals to teenage girls’ desire to be grown up by drinking • Two bottles to indicate mixed drink
Kellogg’s Ad from Maxim Aggressive face--primal scream? Unruly hair Surreal use of color.
A Kellogg’s Ad from Cosmopolitan • Complex carbs • Essential vitamins • Key minerals • Great taste • Perfect Cereal • Bare calves and low heels
A Sony Ad from Maxim “Re-recordable a million times, which is just about how often you change your mind about your mixes.” Alyssa’s Mix (marked out) Christine’s Mix (marked out) Amy’s Mix “Trouble making decisions? No problem.” “Sony Portable Music: Let Your Mind Play.”
A Sony Ad from Cosmopolitan • Same campaign--Sony Portable Music: Let Your Mind Play • “Make Waves” • Products are designed to play music, not to compose or record.
Agonic/Hedonic Dichotomy • Agonic power is link to the male gender role; is equated with “doing” roles; and is obtained through achievement, action, independence, aggression, strength, and expertise. • Hedonic power is associated with the female gender role, is analogous to “being” roles and is derived from indirect or covert means such as display and adornment of the physical self or dependency on others. • From Jennifer L. Paff and Hilda Buckley Lakner, “Dress and the Female Gender Role...”
An SUV ad in Maxim “Cars like pavement. That’s why we don’t make cars.” “. . . at Isuzu, we don’t think nature should give in to cars with low clearance or low thresholds for pain.” “Isuzu: Go farther.”
An SUV ad in Cosmopolitan • Sophisticated City Scene • “Enough Cargo Space to Max Out Your Credit Card.” • Fine Print: “Buckle Up! Do it for those who love you.”
Images of women improving? From June issue of Glamour Part of outstanding ad campaign that accompanied the Women’s World Cup “You pass on more to your children and your grandchildren than your eye color, . . . You provide the living example that they can become more than they ever thought they could. Because you did. Just do it.”
From “School Zone” Spread in July Seventeen • “We’ve been on the soccer team for the past three years. Our girlfriends always come out to watch us play.” --Curt
Ellen Goodman: “The GIRLS and why we get a KICK out of them” • “For every Mia Hamm, there are still dozens of supermodels. For every message of self-confidence, there are still a stunning number of folks investing in feel-bad visuals.” • “The 274 pages of Seventeen were full of nail polish and bad hair days and models who would wilt by halftime. There was one page on softball, including a tip on how to wear your hair under a batting helmet.”
A Strong Woman in Seventeen Tattoo: “Tampax was there”
An advertisement from Seventeen • The only ad for a soap in any magazine I looked at • Obviously geared to sell sex to a young audience • Series premieres during summer vacation
Catherine Fitzpatrick, “Sugar and Spicy” A recent study published in Journal of Communication found that “magazines that counseled girls in the years of their emerging and maturing sexuality were urging them to be enthusiastic consumers in pursuit of perfection--perfect hair, perfect complexions, perfect wardrobes; were holding up thinner and thinner models as the ideal; and were serving as field guides for haphazard sexual indulgence.”
Complementary Copy Page 66 Page 67
Two Quotations “When women’s magazines from Seventeen to Lear praise beauty products in general and credit Revlon in particular to get ads, it’s just business as usual.” --from Gloria Steinem, “Sex, Lies, and Advertising” “The day the copy had to rag around a chicken leg was not a happy one.” --Ellen Levine, editor-in-chief of Woman’s Day
The Photo Spread • From Maxim • Flat-front wool trousers, $95, by Perry Ellis. Vest by Perry Ellis, shirt by Perry Ellis Portfolio. • Doesn’t say where to buy the bed.
Conclusions What I found is consistent with the body of research which says that advertising generally portrays women as dependent on or subservient to men primarily in the home or domestic settings preoccupied with physical attractiveness sex objects decorations for men product users/demonstrators
Web Page dedicated to “Top Ten Offenders” http://www.about-face.org/gallery/newten/one.html