With the advent of on-line media supplanting print media, or so we're told by mass media, and the coming, if not already arrived, supremacy of the iPad (full disclosure: I don't own one), it seems that we can expect flag-sized newsprint editions and glossy magazine volumes to soon disappear from the face of the earth. At least it may mean fewer trips to the recycling center. In the meantime, there's no shortage of this presumably now-antique form of communication. If one has doubts, a few long minutes at a WalMart checkout should serve to change minds.
I have here a 220 page issue of the March 2011 Cosmopolitan. You may be wondering why a guy has an issue of Cosmo open on his lap. Well, I read the articles, okay? What puzzles and frightens me is this concluding question: is this what women think about all day while guys are fantasizing about pimping their Volvos into monster trucks? If so, we're in more trouble than I thought.
Cosmopolitan Magazine, for those who have lived strictly in a monastery since birth, is a collection of advertising, sex and beauty tips and sex tips for the beautiful. It's also famous for its quizzes, where ladies can test any aspect of their existence, from the level of their ability to conquer the elusive orgasm to some other thing about orgasms. The March issue has a quiz on, you guessed it, sex. Here's an interesting question: "You're about to indulge in a steamy solo session, so you reach for . . .", followed by four brash choices, but I there's really no reason to go past letter A, "Your clitoris or breasts or both - no reason to wait." Exactly. Good enough for me. However, I'm not a woman, at least, I don't think I am, and the purpose of the test is to suss out what kind of sexual deviant you actually are. Enough A answers, and your "pleasure MO" is "tactile," a column of information goes on to tell the compliant, test-taking female reader who would probably otherwise be having sex, as far as I can tell from the magazine, that she has a particular "go-to style" and that there is a way to trigger a "bigger O," though why a large zero would be beneficial is a mystery to me. There's even a handy and colorful graphic depicting the ideal, or maybe only, sexual position, tastefully done in two-tone color-coded silhouette complete with a slim, pony-tailed girl and pec-bearing dude. I somehow doubt that the peak of the Bell Curve of Cosmo readers, who are mostly American, after all, would bear similar profiles.
My favourite article this month is "25 Ways To Go Naked . . . Without Freezing Your Butt Off." I wonder how many editorial meetings it took to get that ellipsis to stay in there. Yes, I like nakedness and I indeed dislike freezing, so this must be the place to gather some tips: let's see . . .. "Try These With Your Guy" - Number 6 tells the reader to use warming lube during sex. Okay, that seems like a no-brainer. Warmth. Lubrication. Works. Number 9 suggests a sleeping bag and summer movies: clever and romantic. But Number 12, involving turning up the heat in the car and having a romp, sounds downright deadly. Should we not be in a private place, lest a serial killer put me and my "man" at the top of the 11 O'Clock News? If we're in the garage, how long before the CO poisoning kicks in? No less deadly, and likely a favorite of members of the SS, is Number 8, "Bake a pie together in a hot 400 degree oven." You know what, I guess I'll keep my clothes on for now.
I dunno. Maybe Cosmo describes what women really want out of life - makeup and orgasms. It's a bit reductionist, but okay, everybody needs a hobby. What bothers me is the arc of induction into womanhood that Cosmo and magazines like it describe. Starting with Teen Magazine, then Seventeen and graduating to Cosmopolitan, it seems almost as if it's a movie plot where a subversive Manchurian Candidate / Stepford Wives evil empire of a government, or secret social Star Chamber prep our womyn for their future "place" in society and, with sufficient indoctrination, they will like it and long to be better at it.With a seventeen-year-old daughter myself, I worry about the focus that pop media is still trying to bring to the forefront of impressionable and later, jaded, minds. That of a focus on being able, willing and ready to breed and to be objectified and to finally be put to pasture as well-trained cougars since there is no media for the non-egg producing set, unless you include Family Circle, Good Housekeeping and Reader's Digest.
Maybe it's a good thing that Cosmo and its ilk will pass into obscurity or, at least, not be all up in the face, to paraphrase the slang, dog. Perhaps the identities, sexual and otherwise, of our vaunted special boys and girls can develop on their own, without the pressure of guidebooks to what they should want and need, courtesy of some mega publisher. Perhaps, in the case of the individuality of people in general, perhaps there's no app for that.