Ryan Chartrand

I love magazines. Opening a new, shiny magazine is like waking up on Christmas morning to a mountain of presents. I even like the way they smell. The problem with my fetish is that I have a hard time throwing them away. Because of this, one corner of my bedroom is dedicated to housing old issues of Marie Claire, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan. While attempting to clear the chaos the other day, I found myself instead re-reading all of them. One particular issue caught my attention that day, and not in a good way.

As I sat on the floor perusing the February issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, I first observed the cover: “Arouse him like crazy!” and “10 subliminal tricks that make people adore you.” While in the past I have read the articles in Cosmo and accepted their sexist slant and non-serious jargon, I am beginning to wonder if the magazine could be a danger to women.

It’s sad to me that “the No. 1 women’s magazine” is written to satisfy a man. Come on, you thought that article on how to “get even closer to him” was written for the woman in mind? Au contraire. If you read between the lines it becomes evident that the message being sent is not one of independence, but one of complete male control.

Some of the tips in the above-mentioned article include, “When his car is filthy, play out his male fantasy of a hot girl soaping up his ride,” and “skip the usual morning shower. Instead wake up a little earlier, draw him a hot bath, and plant yourself in it just before his alarm goes off.”

After reading this despicable attempt at relationship advice, I was bombarded with a vision. Before my hectic workday, I get up extra early, wait for my boyfriend in the bathtub, make him a big breakfast, and promptly clean the house while wearing a French maid costume. Then, when I get home, I will wash his car, “girls gone wild” style, while he sits on the couch eating the pizza and beer I picked up on the way home.

What a ridiculous thought. But is it? I think Cosmo would give me a big high five.

What about advice for the working girl? According to Cosmo, to appear more powerful among the office hierarchy, one must wear a chic, all-black outfit, and make sure not to smile as often as you’re inclined. If you want to bond with your boss, bring him hot coffee and chat him up as he is drinking it. Whatever happened to just working hard, and impressing people with your actions?

It befuddles me that Cosmo advertises so reverently that they want women to be “fun, fearless females.” All I read was that while I should be fun and fearless, I must make sure to do it with approval under male scrutiny.

I have been a reader of the magazine for years, and while I will admit that some of the things in it are cute and fun, they lack substance. I search the pages to find a balance, something that will make me change my mind. I turn to a page titled, “you can improve his mood.” Alas.

I am all for loving the man in my life. But that if I had to trick him into listening to me, and fool him into being in a good mood, at the end of the day I would feel as empty as the pages of my advice manual.

Cosmo is teaching women to view their male counterparts as objects. They are useful as arm candy for parties, and of course for their active bank accounts. (A Cosmo girl dates successful rich men. Duh. Insert hair flip.)

I never knew the male mind was so one-dimensional. I remember reading an article not too long ago in Cosmo that advised women on where to meet attractive, successful men. It suggested getting a job at a Fortune 500 company, because mostly males who work there, and hanging out at cafes near grad school programs, which will most certainly lead to courtship with a potentially successful man.

When I read this, I automatically translate it as: drop out of school, buy revealing clothes, and wait for a sexy shallow man to be amused with me. Once amused, force a diamond on my left hand before he realizes how fake I am. Love.

Last but not least, my favorite part of every issue, the literature sample in the back: “Red Hot Read.” I am surprised to find that it is a typical “chick-lit” selection, incorporating a feeble woman being swooned by a strong man. Oh wait, I’m not surprised. I forgot, women shouldn’t read serious novels, for fear it may cause frown lines.

Chelsea Bieker is a journalism senior and a Mustang Daily reporter.

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