Men, Make-Up and Misogyny: Why Woman’s Magazines are 50 Shades of Messed Up

I’ve never considered myself much of a feminist.

Apart from the fact that men generally find vociferous feminism really quite unattractive, I’d also prefer not to die alone and be found six months later half eaten by cats and clutching a copy of Simone De Beauviour’s The Second Sex in my corpse bloated hand. However, on one particular issue I’m 100% with the feminists: nine times out of ten, stuff written by women for women is often more harmful than stuff written by men.

LL Cool Grey

Take the recent hype surrounding 50 Shades of Grey for example. The book tells the story of face blushing, lip biting auto-bot, Anastasia Steele and her torrid love affair with businessman, Christian ‘everyman’ Grey – the GI Joe of the new millennium: aka, L.L Cool Grey. Christian is a body-wash smelling, helicopter flying, concert pianist playing, food-obsessed stalker. He’s also emotionally damaged (obviously), breath-takingly handsome (natch) and a multi-gazillionaire. (Ah, but of course).

One hundred pages in to this fictional monstrosity and I began to despair for my entire gender. I can’t remember the exact moment I gave up hope, but I strongly suspect it was right around the time that Ana’s ‘inner Goddess’ began telling her what to do. A situation which is sort of ironic given that my ‘inner bitch’ told me to throw this book off of a cliff.  I mean, a tree died for this? An ACTUAL tree gave its life so that E.L James could not only commit heinous crimes against literature, but also create a 21 year old character that doesn’t know how to use email, and speaks like the soft porn version of a 1950s debutant: “Holy cow! Christian, are those nipple clamps?”

Hey ladies – forget jealousy and ignore stalking; as long as your boyfriend is rich, handsome and can fly a helicopter, it’s perfectly fine for him to act like a massive douchebag.

If only James had taken inspiration from Silence of the Lambs rather than the Twilight novels. At least then this book might have ended with Ana locked in a basement whilst Christian instructs her to ‘rub the lotion on the skin or else she’ll get the hose again’ before straight-up-murdering her technologically inept ass and turning her into something useful – like a 3 piece suit.

In truth, books like 50 Shades of Grey aren’t even the worst offenders. When it comes to reinforcing patriarchal ideas about female beauty and unrealistic relationships, that dubious honour goes to women’s magazines.

Chief culprit? That would be Cosmo – a publication that should really be renamed ‘How to stop being fat and bad in bed’ magazine. Honourable mentions go to Marie Claire and Glamour  (the latter, for anyone who doesn’t know, is basically just Cosmo with the occasional ‘serious’ article thrown in. You know, to prove that they like, totally care about women’s issues and stuff.)

With all this in mind, I’ve put together a list of the top 4 things that magazines teach women.

4.) All men are potential rapists.

He’s behind you!


Seriously ladies, if you stop trying for a second to perform the 850 gymnastic sex tricks that Cosmo assures you will totally ‘blow his mind’, those evil men will probably try to slip you rohypnol or infect you with a deadly STI.

For some unfathomable reason, women’s magazines feel the need to divide men in one of two categories:

A.)    Dangerous sociopaths

B.)    Demi-Gods who should be worshipped.

There’s no middle ground here. According to Cosmo and co, you need only two things to navigate the difficult world of men: Ultra bendy limbs and a rape whistle.

As if all this wasn’t enough, there’s also the assumption that men are some mysterious species that requires careful dissection. Articles range from the idiotic: ‘What men really think about your hair and make-up’ (probably nothing) to the incomprehensible: ‘Why he thinks the things he thinks and feels the things he feels!’ (Say what?)

Luckily, Cosmo magazine has ingeniously managed to solve this communicational confusion by providing its readers with something they’ve dubbed, ‘The Man Text Decoder’ – because, according to them, “messages from guys can be a minefield.”

Er…not really. Only 14 year old girls obsess over whether a guy has sent them one kiss or two at the end of a text message. As an experiment, I used this decoder and deliberately entered information concerning an ideal man who texts you once in the evening and considerately asks you how your day has been. According to Cosmo this means:

“He’s a bit thumb happy, isn’t he? Looks like he texts all the time, make sure he’s as active in the real world too.”

Yeah, texting me once a day, when I’m not busy, asking me how I am….what a sad bastard. Get a life you text-mad loser!

3.) All other women hate/are jealous of you.

“Bitches are totes jealous of my green polo neck!”

You know that girl at work? Yeah? She’s totally trying to steal your job. Hey, remember that time your best friend politely said hello to your boyfriend? It’s because that brazen hussy is trying to sleep with your man. And how about that random woman you stood next to on the tube the other day? Well, guess what? Girlfriend hates you and is totes jealous of your new handbag.

The concept of female solidarity is completely foreign to 99% of women’s magazines. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that women can sometimes be awful to each other. We call one another names and make snap judgements based on appearance.

Still, it’s pretty hard to further the notion of sisterhood when magazines like Glamour and Cosmo constantly pit women against each other. Apparently, everyone’s out to get you…men, women, your boss, your next door neighbour’s dog. But hey, not to worry ladies, here’s 50 ways to perfect that smoky-eye look!

2. You should totally be yourself…unless you can be like Kylie Minogue/Beyoncé/Cheryl Cole.

I recently saw an article in Marie Claire entitled: “You look like a trainwreck! How plastic surgery and a lobotomy will ensure you don’t die alone.”

Ok, so I might have made that up. The point is, women’s magazines delight in sending mixed messages to their readers. Learn to love your appearance but also, turn to page 20 for tips on how you can look more like Cheryl Cole.

Incidentally, I’m pretty sure Cheryl Cole isn’t even a real person. I suspect that she was actually manufactured in a lab in Newcastle as part of a project financed by Simon Cowell and X-Factor bosses. In fact, I have it on good authority that she originally came with detachable parts and has the phrase ‘Made in Gateshead’ stamped across the bottom of her foot.

Occasionally, these magazines will get tired of telling you how to lose 20lbs on the tic-tac and toothpaste diet, and instead throw in a “How I learnt to love my curves” article. The accompanying picture is usually that of a model who (gasp) wears a size 12. Given the patronising title, it’s fairly obvious that the hidden subtext of this article is: Good for you chubbsy…be sure to reiterate how much you love your curves when the firemen crane lift your obese body from your house!

1. Let’s all worship Carrie Bradshaw

“Let there be LIGHT!”

The Gospel according to women’s magazines:

In the beginning Carrie created the concept of Sunday brunch and self-obsessed whining. Editors said, let there be articles on cocktails and no strings attached sex, and there were articles on cocktails and no strings attached sex. Woman’s magazines saw that this was good and on the seventh day they published stuff like:

  • Which member of Sex and The City are you?
  • Are you dating Big or Aiden?
  • Learn how to make an Appletini.
  • How to have sex like Samantha.

No. Just…no.


1 Comment
To Top