Thursday, September 29, 2011

Musings in the check-out line

... Or read Cosmopolitan.
When you're in the check-out line at a grocery or drug store, don't you find yourself idly glancing at the covers of the gossip rags and mentally laughing or grumping at the contents they advertise? For instance, I'm more than a little amused at the continual efforts of OK! to break up Brad and Angelina in favor of Brad and Jennifer. And I'm irked at Cosmopolitan's persistent efforts to make women the sex toys feminists say they shouldn't be.

It gets better. Today I was at CVS to pick up a pack of lighters — non-smokers, please spare me the lectures — when I noticed the latest issue of Cosmo promises to divulge the secret of "four words that can seduce any man, any time".

Really? Does that include Barney Frank? or George Takei? (Boy, then it would be really "okay to be Takei"!)

The real objection I have — other than the patently stupid way they phrased it — is that the ad, if not the article itself, treats men as simply a collection of "hot and horny" buttons a woman can push to make him go to bed with her if she wants him to. Granted, some men act that way ... some men talk as if they'd get excited by the crack of doom. But you dig deep enough, and even these men have their limits. 

Most of them. Most of the time.

But not only does it set up an unrealistic expectation, it also clepes the woman a failure as a woman if these words fail to work their magic on her prospect. And that's part of Cosmo's deeper, uglier philosophy: if a woman isn't having plenty of sex — especially hot, blow-your-mind-out-of-your-flippin'-skull sex — there's something wrong with her as a woman and a person. (Because, of course, we men are just collections of "hot and horny" buttons; getting the man you want into bed should be as simple as snapping your fingers or twitching your butt. So why aren't you boinking like a rabbit right now?)

Unreasonable, demeaning, dehumanizing. For both men and women.

De gustibus non est disputandum. Someone, dear reader, could just as easily ask you, "You read that guy's blog? Gawd, you need to get a life!" And freedom of speech, I suppose, means freedom to publish mind-croggling, depersonalizing crap so long as someone's willing to pay for it. 

And that, I guess, is what depresses me most. Not that someone writes such crap, but that someone pays for and reads such crap, as faithfully as any doctor ever read her medical journals.