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					    Before Maxim

• Before Maxim, the men‘s
  lifestyle magazine category
  was dominated by GQ and
  Esquire. Men didn‘t have
  much choice when it came
  to magazines. Mostly porn
  magazines — Playboy,
  sports or niche magazines
  like Popular Mechanics.
                    Maxim
• Since it‘s debut in
  1998 has grown from
  750,000 circulation to
  2.5 million.
• Target audience 20-30
  something white
  heterosexual men.
• Content: Sex, sports,
  beer, gadgets, clothes
  and fitness.
The Laddish Fun
  • Maxim promotes
    ―laddish‖ forms of
    Masculinity as
    opposed to the
    ―new man‖ image
    found in Esquire
    of the well-
    dressed, sensitive,
    professional white
    man.
• Some researchers have attributed the success of
  Maxim to the uneasiness men feel about their
  gender identity. The traditional roles men held in
  the past are no longer necessary.
• With more women in the workplace, men no
  longer are the primary breadwinners. The need to
  be married or stay married is not as important in
  today‘s society. Single dads and moms and
  blended families are the norm.
• Women are better educated and more assertive in
  than in the past and therefore, less reliant
  financially and emotionally on men.
– What made these new men‘s magazines so
  popular? In a 1999 Communication and Mass
  Media article, Patricia J. Thompson, professor
  of education and women's studies at City
  University of New York's Lehman College,
  attributed the success of magazines such as
  Maxim as an ―ego gap‖ between growing up
  male in the ‗90s and the machismo of their
  dads and granddads. ``I think a lot of men feel
  emasculated because their dads and
  grandfathers were so macho. Now that women
  are becoming self-reliant, men are very unsure
  of themselves,'' she writes. (Brody).
• This paper will explore the function of men‘s
  lifestyle magazines in the life of the modern male
  as well as the forms of masculinity as presented
  in Maxim and Men’s Health. Researchers argue
  the new generation of men‘s lifestyle magazines
  ―defines the (social and cultural) construction of
  heterosexual masculinity‖ (Boni, p. 472).
  Heterosexual masculinity, as presented in the
  magazines, is characterized by ―success, status,
  toughness and dominance. The magazines
  provide an oasis of masculinity in an increasingly
  feminized world.
• According to Media Week, the new generation of
  men‘s magazines are ―a sometimes lowbrow but
  often genius mix of hot women, cold brew, sports,
  fashion, health and fitness, advice columns, film
  and music reviews, and celebrity interviews”
  presented in short, easy to read snippets often
  illustrated by cartoons (Case). Maxim makes the
  assumption if you are a heterosexual male you will
  be interested in sports, beer and sex. The magazine
  leaves little room for doubt about what it views as
  masculine interests.
   Men‘s Health
• Mens’ Health is aimed at an
  older more affluent audience
  but also white and
  heterosexual. It features a
  wide variety of self-help
  advice about health, nutrition,
  relationship but the main
  focus of the magazine is
  building muscle. Researchers
  have interpreted this focus on
  the body as a control strategy
  (Jackson, et. al., 2001, Boni
  2002, Stibbe, 2004).
• In a world of changing gender
  relations and identities, your
  body is the one thing you can
  control. The male body
  becomes a project to be
  transformed into a symbol of
  dominance through exercise,
  nutrition and grooming. ―The
  male body is desirable and
  desiring one, concerned with
  health, fitness and beauty,
  issues which define an
  embodied masculine lifestyle
  (Boni, p. 466).
             Magazine a Buddy
• Jackson, et al. argues men in the twenty-first century face
  increasing anxieties about their identities and lives.
  Culturally and socially, men aren‘t encourage to express
  their feelings or form intimate relationships with other
  men, so it is difficult for men to discuss health and
  relationships problems. The magazine becomes the big
  brother, friend or father the reader can turn to for advice
  and reassurance about social behavior, relationship, sex
  and health without the ―uncomfortable emotional issues‖
  (Boni, p. 473).
• The ambivalence men feel about the advice is
  signaled ―by the ironic tone in which the
  magazines present such information to their
  readers (p. 2). By using humor and irony, the
  Maxim reader doesn‘t feel obligated to take the
  advice seriously because if the advice written
  seriously it would mean there was something
  wrong with the reader. ―Irony in the magazine is
  usually reserved for some of the articles about
  relationships or male competitors in the
  workplace‖ irony is not used in features
  discussing body transformation (p. 106)
Men’s Health becomes the
trusted buddy expert giving
advice to a friend
• Traditionally, health is a female not male concern.
  Men are less likely to visit a doctor than women
  and more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors
  such as alcohol consumption, smoking bad diet and
  risking taking. ―This buddy is a deliberate creation
  of the magazine…The buddy acts as an
  intermediary, explaining and interpreting medical
  science for the reader‖ (p. 36, Stibbe).
• Are the magazines a backlash against feminism or
  are they ―new models of male identity to modern
  men?‖ (Gauntlett, p. 152). While researchers
  have found ―geographic location, class, race,
  sexual orientation and family background,‖
  influence attitudes toward male identity, this
  paper will limit the discussion to hegemonic
  masculinity. The definition of hegemony is power
  ―that makes people act as if it were natural,
  normal, or simply a consensus. In the case of
  masculinity, traditional characteristics of
  masculinity are made to seem so correct and
  natural that men find…domination…not just
  expected, but actually demanded‖ (Stibbe, p. 33).
• ―No sissy stuff‖ refers to the
  stereotypical differences
  between men and women.
  Physically, men are supposed
  to have deep voices, avoid of
  cosmetics and be indifferent to
  clothing and hygiene.
  Emotionally, they are
  supposed to repressed their
  feelings and avoid showing
  affection to other men.
  Behaviorally, men scoff at
  traditional female activities
  such as parenting, housework
  or the arts (Alexander, p. 537).
• ―The Big Wheel‖ refers to
  a man‘s ability to obtain
  fame, wealth, status and
  success. It is most
  associated with a man‘s
  occupation. ―The Big
  Wheel‖ role is under
  threat as more women
  enter the workforce and
  influence consumer
  spending (Alexander, p.
  537).
                The Sturdy Oak
• ―The Sturdy Oak‖ is self-reliant,
  confident and manly as illustrated
  by John Wayne or Humphrey
  Bogart (Alexander, p. 537).
  According to Messages Men Hear:
  Constructing Masculinities by Ian
  Harris (1995), ―nine messages
  illustrate modern expectations for
  men: be like your father; be a
  faithful husband, Good Samaritan,
  law, nature lover, nurturer, rebel,
  scholar and technician‖
  (Alexander, p. 538).
• ―Give ‗Em Hell‖ men emit an
  aura of aggression and violence
  and use it to obtain sex from
  women‖ (p. 537). Political or
  social movements such as
  ―feminism, gay rights, racial
  and ethnic equality or military
  impotence‖ are viewed as a
  threat to the dominant, white
  heterosexual culture.
  ―Homophobia is a central
  organizing principle of our
  cultural definition of manhood
  (p. 538).
– Anthony Giddens‘ theory of structuration proposes
  social structure is created by the repetition of
  individual random acts such as ―traditions,
  institutions, moral codes and established ways of
  doing things.‖ But social forces can be changed when
  people start to ―ignore them, replace them or
  reproduce them differently‖ (Gauntlett, p. 93). These
  expectations of how something or someone ―should
  be‖ make up ―social forces and social structures that
  sociologists talk about‖ (Gauntlett, p. 94). When men
  or women challenge the ―taken-for-granted
  consensus‖ about they should behave, it disrupts
  society‘s ―faith‖ in everyday routines and
  expectations.(Gauntlett, p. 95).
– The increase divorce rate, women wage earners and
  single head of households, signal a breakdown of the
  nuclear family. As women assert their autonomy in the
  workplace, household and society, men are abandoning
  the role of breadwinner. Some researchers feel, the new
  generation of men‘s lifestyle magazines has been
  influential in changing men‘s attitudes toward
  masculinity, self-identity and body image by
  introducing men to self-help, exercise, nutrition,
  relationship and sex articles as well as a vast array of
  designer clothing and cosmetic products. While format
  and information available in the magazines is very
  similar to women‘s magazines, the content and tone is
  decidedly different.
        Avoiding the Trap
– The new self as championed by the magazines
  focuses ―the possibility of a self realizing its deepest
  desire not through sacrifice and duty but through the
  tragedies and triumphs of love and sex‖ (Jackson, et
  al, p. 80). Many of the articles in the magazines
  celebrate virtues of bachelorhood and warn against
  the traps of ―conventional heterosexual marriage‖
  (Jackson, et. al. p. 81).
– In the December 2004 issue of Maxim, the ―Says Her‖
  column is advice from former madam Jody ―Babydol‖
  Gibson. The opening line asks the reader ―Unless
  exerting your pea-size brain gives you a ―thinkache,‖
  chances are you‘ve wondered what it would be like to
  have your own harem.‖ ―Babydol‖ dispenses a variety
  of relationship advice such as paying for sex as way to
  ―spice up relationships and kill the urge to cheat;‖
  pleasuring yourself before a date so you can ―make
  interesting conversation about Julia Roberts movies
  without the distraction of wondering what color panties
  your date is wearing;‖
engaging in mindless sex
with anonymous girls —
―so as long as you keep
everything 100 percent safe
with no exchange of names,
phone numbers, e-mail
addresses or any other way
to get back in touch, my
advice is this: Keep up the
good work.‖ In addition to
the advice, the column
includes a mix and match
quiz of celebrities who have
either cheated or used a
prostitute (p. 80-84).
– ―Sex on the Brain‖ by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. in the
  December 2004 issue of Men‘s Health emphasizes
  biochemical differences between men and women. For
  instance, Amen writes:

– ―Her goals are programmed for long range; your are often
  shockingly short term…The whole encounter can leave
  you quivering with pleasure, hoping for more. It can also
  hijack and ruin your life. And between the ―walk‖ and
  ―don walk‖ signals of delight and disaster, your brain is
  sorting information, making choices, spurring actions.
  But you don‘t want to passively accept all that, especially
  because your whole life is riding on the choices you
  make‖ (p. 158).
               Body Politics
• Despite the title, Men‘s Health—body building not
  necessarily health— is the focus of the magazine.
  Each issue devotes numerous pages on transforming
  and strengthening the reader‘s body through weight
  lifting. The December 2004 issue even has a pullout
  poster of a weight lifting routine. ―Because
  bodybuildng fetishezes muscles, it further
  exaggerates gender-based characteristics…that
  are…loaded with cultural meaning…The
  construction of the ideal man as hugely muscular
  therefore serves the ideological goal of reproducing
  male power‖ (Stibbe, p. 38).
• Many negative behaviors are
  associated with muscle building
  and masculinity. Arran Stibbe
  analyzing magazines from the year
  2000 found Men’s Health defining
  masculinity in the areas of food
  consumption and sexuality.
  Emphasis on convenience foods,
  grilling red meat and belittling
  vegetables was standard fare in the
  magazine. Researchers have found
  diet a major contributing factor to
  cancer and heart disease in men,
  particularly detrimental is the
  consumption of animal fat and
  cholesterol found in read meat.
• Currently, men live six years less
  than women. Researchers believe
  not just biological but
  psychological, social and
  behavioral factors contribute to
  the reduction of years. Despite
  the statistics, according to Stibbe,
  the magazine never suggests
  reducing red meat intake.
  ―Instead, meat, and particularly
  beef, is consistently associated
  with positive images of
  masculinity. The primary
  connection is via muscle‖ (p. 39)
                   Eat Meat

• According to Stibbe, beef is associated with power
  and luxury. Beef comes from the largest and most
  muscular farm animal. In addition, raising cattle
  consumes more resources than growing vegetables
  therefore more expensive symbolizing status and
  wealth. ―If men are encouraged to eat a lot of meat,
  that places men collectively in a higher class than
  women‖ (p. 41).
• Building muscle and reducing fat
  with the goal of looking lean and
  muscular are ways of staving off
  age. Like women‘s magazines,
  Men‘s Health encourages anxiety
  in its readers by promoting an
  ideal of hard body masculinity that
  most of its readers will be unable
  to attain without enormous effort.
  ―Just as men face an increasingly
  uncertain future in the workplace,
  so their bodies become places of
  intense anxiety and scrutiny in
  terms of their inevitable decline‖
  (Jackson, et al, p. 94).
             The Consumer
– In addition to developing a hard body, men create
  identity by the products they choose. Emphasis on
  grooming, fashion and consumerism was once
  considered feminine characteristics but in the new
  economy masculinity is no longer defined by what a man
  produces but what he consumes (p. 551, Alexander.).
  ―Branded masculinity is rooted in consumer capitalism
  wherein profit can be produced by generating insecurity
  about one‘s body and one‘s consumer choices and then
  providing consumers with the correct answer or product
  in articles and advertisements‖ (Alexander, p. 551).
         Branded Masculinity
– In a consumer society, men and
  women increasingly define
  gender by the products they buy.
  By creating different forms of
  masculinity, such as the ―new
  man,‖ ―the lad,‖ and the ―fitness
  buff,‖ corporations increase
  sales and profits at the ―expense
  of any authentic understanding
  of what masculinity really
  means today‖ (Alexander, p.
  552).
                  Conclusion
– Like women‘s magazines,
  men‘s magazines give plenty of
  advice on how to behave, what
  to wear, what to buy, what eat,
  who to date, etc., suggesting
  that men are ―insecurely trying
  to find their place in the
  modern world.‖ (Gauntlett, p.
  380). In a society where
  identities are not given but
  constructed, the magazines
  provide reassurance to men
  ―who are wondering, ‗Is this
  right?‘ and ‗Am I doing this
  OK?‘ (Gauntlett, p. 380).

				
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posted:9/7/2011
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