July 1, 2000 - Cosmopolitan Confusion!

I went to the grocery store on Friday to pick up a few things to get me through the long weekend. Milk, bread, eggs, hot dogs, and a Cosmo. A Cosmo?

Yes, you read right. The glossy womens rag. I was a little embarassed standing there in line with all my bachelor goodies, and a cosmo. I even put it face down on the checkout conveyor belt. I feared the odd looks I knew would be coming from the checkout girl. Well, I was confidant in my purchase, and my reasoning. There was an article on hookups on the campaign trail, and a collegue of mine got a mention in the piece. I quickly glanced through the article while in line, and saw that the mention was basically three sentances with a cute line about candidates walking tours. But it also had three rules of campaign dating that the author had deduced, and I figured that I should probably read up on these. Being a single guy who will be doing some campaign coverage this year, I figured I should prepare myself as best I could to prevent breaking the rules and bringing shame to the press corps.

Well, that article only took up three pages. I started flipping through the rest of Cosmo. This, perhaps, was not a wise idea. I have a lot of ideas about women. I spend a good deal of time contemplating these things - asky anyone who knows me well and they will tell you this is true. I like women a lot, and I even know a couple of them personally. But there are certain concepts that have never entered my mind. A little story might help explain my situation.

I had a roomate in college who came from a very large Catholic family. Half jokingly, he boasted of how all the women in his family were virgins. In particular, he singled out his mother and grandmothers. I can identify very much with this mindset. I believed women to really be the nobler gender. I may have had a few doubts floating through my head, but on the whole I thought ladies to be eminently more respectable, decent, caring, and perhaps moral than men. To go back to my friend, imagine the horrors of walking into mom and dad's bedroom and witnessing the inevitable.

Opening the cover of Cosmo was like opening that bedroom door.

It started even before I got to page one. Just read some of the headlines on the cover!

"His lusty wish list"
"Have a sex kitten summer"
"Play with your guy tonight!"

This indeed was going to be a challenge for me. While I assumed that these magazines would have typical girlie things - clothes, makeup, beauty tips, I never in my wildest dreams thought so much attention would be paid to sex! Plain outright sex.

I always thought that what women were really into were relationships, talking, taking walks, going to the theatre, having deep discussions about the world. This magazine makes me think now that the only thing on womens minds are all the evil things that men are stereotyped as having on their minds.

Now, I get a couple of mens magazines every month. And while they have these same articles (just swap "her" for "him" ie. "His lusty wish list" in Cosmo becomes "Her lusty wish list" in Maxim), they also have interviews with entertainers and politicians, and usually a good article or too about a scandolous or troubling thing going on somewhere in the world. For instance, the July Maxim has an 8 page piece on a huge DEA bust of a cocaine ring in Florida. There's also a few music and movie reviews.

Maybe Cosmo has these things too. Maybe I just missed them amongst the plethora of pitiful ads for products to atificially highlight just about every feature on the body from head (hair dyes) to toes (toe nail polish).

And then the pictures! Now I have a couple of lady firends who like to give me serious grief about the pictures of women in mens magazines. They point out their sultry, suggestive poses. The dazed and lost looks in their eyes. But here to my surprise, the EXACT SAME PICTURES in THEIR MAGAZINE!!! Compare the lingere and hot shorts spreads in Cosmo with the profiles of the starlets of the "X-Men" movie in Maxim. At least in the Maxim there are words telling us what's on the ladies minds.

And now for the biggest difference, and perhaps the most important difference. Maxim has jokes. No jokes, not a single one, in Cosmo. Now perhaps one of my misconceptions about women is that they have a sense of humor, and enjoy laughing. The lack of laughter in Cosmo may lead me to change my mind!

I would still like to think that women are the nobler model of our human being. To read Cosmo, I come to the conclusion that women are self-obsessed, sex seeking, shallow people who are obsessed with both gossip and horoscopes. Oh, and they don't laugh.

Wow, guess what. This is the same argument that some women make for why magazines like Cosmo are bad for women. They say they skew women's image of themsleves, sucker them into buying a shitload of makeup and shoes that they really don't need, and that the prime goal in life is to get and give in the bedroom.

I can go two places from here. Either I change my whole outlook on the female gender. I can give up my ideas of charming them with literature, theatre, and sunset hikes with wine and cheese.

Or I can hold true to my beliefs, and reject the shallow messages of Cosmo. I think that's what I'm going to do. Up with women! Read men's magazines.

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