I’m not a fan of Maxim magazine, and one glance at any of their covers will tell you why. Geared towards a hyper-masculine gaze – the intense sexualization of the models, the constant reinforcement of the message that women’s role is one of sexual servitude, the comparisons of women to toys, puppets, or food items – the singular, narrow definition of beauty is really too much for me to handle.
Recently, I was reminded of one of Maxim’s egregious offenses that deserved some revisiting.
A few years ago they printed an article with a woman shown in four “phases,” headlined “How To Cure a Feminist.” The implication is clear – that feminists are anti-male, that feminists all look and act the same way, and that feminists are unattractive. It implies that feminists need to be “cured,” because they supposedly don’t act the way girls and women are “supposed” to act.
The image and its captions show the ways in which a man can transform a woman – from what they deem as repulsive into what they deem as acceptable and desirable. The way he does this, it seems, is primarily through manipulation.
I’m sure that Maxim thinks this article is funny, and that “humor” will appeal to its readers. But really, the article is wildly offensive, and there are oh-so-many reasons why.
From the way women are portrayed as being as easily programmed as robots, to the stereotypical descriptions of feminists as non-shaving, combat-boot wearing man-haters, to the idea that all feminists have a repressed Barbie inside of them just waiting to burst out into a Malibu dream house.
It’s impossible to ignore that as the woman is “progressing,” she loses more articles of clothing.
Worst of all, the final image suggests ways to manipulate her “feminist-tinged interests” to make them palatable to the sex-starved male, and to ensure that he gets some physical action for his efforts in transitioning her to what he considers a “real woman.” Frankly, I consider the last image’s caption to encourage coerced sexual activity, making it actually dangerous.
Feminism is about being judged for your competency and skills, and not for the size of your breasts, or the size of your waist, or the symmetry of your face. It’s about not coding certain actions or characteristics as exclusively “feminine” or “masculine.” Maxim, however, is here to tell me that I’m wrong about that!
Maxim tells us through this article that women who don’t shave aren’t real women, that women who are militant aren’t real women, and that women who protest aren’t “real” women. These are characteristics that Maxim thinks are either masculine or not feminine enough, and therefore, true women would never embody them.
Maxim reinforces the old notions that feminism tries to fight – that women are only worthy of attention if they fit into a terribly narrow definition of being physically attractive, and if they are interested in men. (And here, of course, “attractive” seems synonymous with “nearly naked”.)
This article does a real disservice to those of us who fight for the true ideals of feminism, and for the benefits it reaps for everyone. I think I’ll continue to avoid Maxim’s “advice.”
This reminds me of the time when I was trying to persuade a friend to leave an abusive relationship, her boyfriend told her to stop listening to my “feminist propaganda”. I laughed when I heard this. At the same time it pissed me off.
I love reading your posts because they are so on-point. Crap like this is everywhere and, to be honest, I didn’t understand feminism or that I am a feminist until a few years ago. The media portrays feminism as that militant man-hater and I am so happy to have found blogs/literature/a clue that taught me otherwise.
Things like this really seem to imply that it’s a problem for women to have things like interests, personalities or opinions of their own, and that women fundamentally should exist to be status symbols for men and to provide ego boosts and sex. The level to which articles like this encourage being manipulative is alarming as well – it’s exactly the opposite of having an interest in a woman as a person – it’s being interested in women only to the extent that they can be manipulated into being whatever a man wants.
Articles like this are also degrading to men – it sends the message that men only care about sex and power over women, and that men are incapable of having any sort of sincere, real, meaningful connections with women. Not that a lot of men aren’t capable of these things, but magazines like this are where men’s attitudes towards women are shaped. Even men who don’t actually read stuff like this are probably going to hear it from someone.
The third photo says it all. “A man completes me.”
Because a woman is nothing without a man, right? *headdesk*
The frightening thing, is that they quote “Manifesta” author Jennifer Baumgardner. Wonder if she knew what her interview was being geared toward…
You know that old adage, “It’s funny because it’s true”? Well, that’s exactly why this ridiculous Maxim article fails at good humor, even if it were sarcasm, which it’s very poor. “You’ll have to reshizzle her feminist tinged interests so you can actually spend time with her”. Really? Really?
I just came across About Face and am really loving what I read.
While it’s a horrendous article, I think saying something from 2003 is “a few years ago” is a little unfair as well, especially to use it as representative of their current output. I think that’s a touch disingenuous.
That said, I’ve not read Maxim since the late nineties, so it’s entirely possible that it hasn’t changed.
No. No. No. Maxim is being retarded here, but so are you.
“Feminism is about being judged for your competency and skills”
No, Feminism, is women as superior to men. Egalitarianism is being judged for your competency and skills. I thoroughly support egalitarianism, but having actually spent time in a gender studies lecture hall, I can guarantee that while that seems like an obvious fact, a lot of people still seem to go for the stereotypical (and damaging to equal rights) stance of “Men are evil”.
“Maxim tells us through this article that women who donâ€™t shave arenâ€™t real women, that women who are militant arenâ€™t real women, and that women who protest arenâ€™t â€œrealâ€ women. These are characteristics that Maxim thinks are either masculine or not feminine enough, and therefore, true women would never embody them.”
It doesn’t say that, it says that women who don’t shave aren’t the preferred partners for the chauvinist reader-base of maxim magazine.
BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, the comment on women who are militant aren’t real women. No, they are, but they’re absolutely retarded, and again damaging to the case for equal rights. Women who are militant exactly as bad as anyone who is militant about a set of beliefs.
There is a line between pointing out gender inequality through journalism, and blindly supporting one side without considering the implications about what you’re saying. This seems more reactionary than it does helpful for any kind of moral cause.
“Feminism, is women as superior to men.”
Uh… no. It’s not. It’s women as EQUAL to men. It is called “feminism” because that is what needs to be done for women to be societally considered equal to men — advancement of their rights so they have the same ones and be given the same consideration. Because… men already have it.
Cartoonish bra-burning man-haters are not the definition of “feminism” just as the Westboro Baptist Church is not the definition of “religion”.
If you read the text of the article though, it seems more like an article advising losery, clueless guys (Maxim’s main reader cohort) on how to approach that bomb-ass confident girl they have been admiring from a distance and make her into an approachable, fun friend that they can go watch sports and go camping with. Sure, it’s demeaning to guys, but those pictures on the top? They’re just the girl going from alluring but intimidating to the sexy creature she becomes in your mind when you really get to know her and fall for her… and the smart guys realize that.
The world is not a cookie cutter world. Everybody is different. However tendencies do exist. These tendencies are the presentation of genetic expression. These are called Secondary Sexual Characteristics. Where primary ones are having a penis or vagina, or second X chromosome. A woman with male secondary sexual characteristics is similar to an apple being orange. For it is not the average, nor was it the intentions of nature. This does not make a woman any less of a person, however it may make her considerable unattractive to the average masculine male. Thus, dressing women as men will hinder their attractiveness. And forcefully changing your personality to accomodate masculine behavior will be unattractive to the average masculine male as it is neither natural, and is faked. However a butch women who is naturally masculine cannot help her behavior and yes she should be judged equally to men. If she happens to have huge muscles that can make her lift heavier objects with ease, then she should be paid for her work not her gender. So I believe that tendencies do exist where women are better at some things than men and vice versa. However with tendencies are exceptions. It is natures intention to have gender roles for the genetically healthy male or female, otherwise secondary sex characteristics would not exist, tendancies would not be observed, and stereotypes would not be constructed. This is so basic and simple and fundamental I don’t understand how some people fail to understand. Try to preserve this duality and yin and yang as much as possible, yet consider the rights of those who do not fit into these models as well. That being said, I am about to eat lunch my feminine beauty has created for me. As she loves to cook and clean, where I have no interest. Yet rest assured after I eat, I will continue my yard work as she naps in the sun. We are different, but equal, and through our differences we balance the equation and life is good.
Since Feminism solely promotes the advance in Women’s Rights, it stands in opposition to rights non-inclusive to the group. This is how freedom works. Freedom is an amount not a true/false. If only two people existed, neither two could be absolutely free. For if one was to gain freedom, it would hinder the others. For example if one were to have the right to smoke and the other had the right to not to have to breath second hand smoke, whose right is more important? The second because it regards health? Well what if nicotine is used in a medicinal way to cure depression or anxiety? Whose health would be considered more? So they would have to debate and use persuasion on each other which is what propaganda fundamentally is. He who has the freedom has the right, earned it by being victorious. Their is no right or wrong, Just winners and losers. So Feminism stands for Women and stands in opposition to others because it is biased. It protects women. It is a man made machine, similar to corporations. Nowhere in feminism’s agenda does it say advance women but only so far as to not hinder others rights as nowhere in a Corporations charter does it state to make profits but not too much to disrupt economic systems. So if feminism were to progress unchallenged it would turn the tables on the percieved “male dominance” and enter into an era of Female Dominance. For the perception of threat is out of fear and paranoria, it will never end. Males rights would diminish and diminish until the point of mans rights to express his own sexuality becomes “perversion.” So let there be Masculinism to counteract feminism. For both are dysfunctional teachings. Yet their efforts will undermine each other. This is balance of power.