The Problem with Magazines

Posted on 26 November 2012

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In a pub bathroom the other day, I saw a poster ad for Cosmopolitan magazine.

For some reason it struck me as particularly offensive – even more so than the coverlines of mainstream magazines usually do.

This is it:

I thought it would be a fun exercise to unpack the assumptions behind the statements on the ad, so here I go.

If you haven’t been buying Cosmopolitan, you wouldn’t know…

Assumptions:

  1. Lots of people buy Cosmopolitan.
  2. Buying Cosmopolitan is a habitual activity that people do regularly.
  3. If you’re not one of them, you’re missing out on exclusive knowledge only available via Cosmopolitan.
  4. If you haven’t been buying Cosmopolitan, you should start.

40% of women orgasm in their sleep. So don’t think you’re having a quiet night in!

Assumptions:

  1. There has been a study or a series of studies on women’s somnambic orgasms.
  2. These studies have generated data that is reliable enough that generalised claims about all women can be made confidently.
  3. A large sample size of women agreed to participate in a study that picked up their orgasms while they were asleep.
  4. If you don’t orgasm in your sleep, you’re in the unlucky 60% of all women in the world.
  5. A quiet night in doesn’t include orgasms.
  6. A quiet night in is boring.
  7. A quiet night in is usually thought of as a last resort.
  8. A quiet night in without orgasms is a waste of time.

Women spend roughly $15,000 on make-up in their lifetimes.

Assumptions:

  1. Women spend money on make-up.
  2. Women spend their lifetime buying make-up.
  3. If you spend much less than $15,000 on make-up in your life, you’re abnormal, or at least out of the ordinary.
  4. If you spend much more than $15,000 on make-up in your life, you’re abnormal, or at least out of the ordinary.

48% of women admit to sleeping with a colleague. (We get it, it’s way more fun than spreadsheets.)

Assumptions:

  1. There has been a study or a series of studies or at least a survey asking women whether they have had sex with a colleague.
  2. These studies have generated data that is reliable enough that generalised claims about all women can be made confidently.
  3. A large sample size of women agreed to answer whether they have had sex with a colleague.
  4. Having sex with someone you work with is something that you ‘admit to’, therefore it is bad, frowned upon, or at least considered risqué.
  5. Having sex with a colleague is something women might lie about.
  6. If you have sex with a colleague you might want to lie about it.
  7. If you tell people you have had sex with a colleague, you will be admitting a transgression.
  8. Cosmopolitan forgives you if you have had sex with a colleague.
  9. You shouldn’t want to have sex with a colleague, but you probably will want to at some point in your life.
  10. You have almost a 50/50 chance of actually having sex with a colleague in your life.
  11. Having sex is more fun than spreadsheets.
  12. Spreadsheets are not fun.

There are only four tattoos you won’t regret getting.

Assumptions:

  1. You will probably get a tattoo at some point.
  2. People regret most/a lot of their tattoos.
  3. There are only four acceptable tattoo designs in the whole world.
  4. Cosmopolitan has searched the world for the only four acceptable designs in the whole world and have brought them to you specially.
  5. Cosmopolitan knows best about what you should do with your body.

Intagramming a selfie? The left side of your face is more photogenic than the right.

Assumptions:

  1. Taking self-portrait photographs is a common pastime.
  2. Instagram is what everyone uses.
  3. If you’re not taking self-portraits, you’re missing out/you’re weird.
  4. If you’re not using Instagram, you’re missing out/you’re weird.
  5. The point of taking self-portraits is to look attractive.
  6. There is a more photogenic side of your face.
  7. The two sides of your face look so similar to each other that you can’t tell them apart.
  8. Posting photographs of yourself looking as attractive as possible and publishing them online is a good, normal thing to do.
  9. Cosmopolitan is here to help you look your most attractive online.

The statements on this poster seem seriously disgusting. Are they worse than Cosmo coverlines usually are? Am I just extra pissed off with the world this week?

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Posted in: Feminism, Media