Monday, April 5, 2010

Cosmocking: UK Cosmo!

On my way back from Germany, I had a layover in London (or more specifically in a hermetically sealed airport terminal that they told me was London but could have been the moon for all the city views and local color it offered), and I picked up a copy of UK Cosmo. It's definitely all different content from US Cosmo, so let's get reading!

White cover! Someone named Holly! Whoo! And she appears to weigh more (not a lot more, but I take what I can get) than 100 pounds! She's still been Photoshopped to death, though, she has an Amazing Disappearing Right Leg! Sort of a white lace dress thing, but not fine sexy lace, more like doily lace! The word "SEX" is, true to form, in very large font on the cover!

It came with a free bag, too. It's actually a really nice bag--it's a tote bag made of durable-feeling fabric with a cute and very British sailor-stripe pattern and bow, and it doesn't have any annoying logos on it either. I would pay the cover price of the magazine just for this bag.

Oh boy. One of the first articles is a point-counterpoint about whether men have to fight anti-male sexism. Let's read the "yes" viewpoint and grit our teeth...

Last year, an oven-cleaner ad drew a thousand-plus complaints for the slogan, 'So easy, even a man can use it.' But it stayed on air, and anti-male sexism in the media--and beyond--continues. Can you imagine the outcry if one of the most popular TV shows of all time featured a drunken, fat, stupid woman and her long-suffering husband? Or if a clothes store asked its female staff to go topless? As The Simpsons and Abercrombie & Fitch have shown, if man are the targets, portraying them as stupid or as objects of lust doesn't seem to matter.
Of course, women still have a long way to go in the war against discrimination--even now we earn, on average, less than men. But it doesn't do us any favours to turn the tables against them. It's time to remember it's equality we've been fighting for--not the chance to get our own back.

...gosh. She's kinda got a point there. I was expecting a "feminism has gone too far!", but no, this is actually quite reasonable. If anything the "no" editorial is further from my own viewpoint, although when she points out that guys may have "image" issues but women still have far less financial and political power, she's kinda got a point too.

UK Cosmo's nipple stance is intermediate between Germany and the US; it's not a tits-out nipplefest like German Cosmo, but they don't Photoshop them out of bra pictures the way US Cosmo does. Although there is one picture of a guy who must have had his junk Photoshopped out, you can see all the way up his thigh and there's nothing there, I refuse to believe this was just done with angles. (He's very good-looking, but it's all for naught because I can't stop staring at his Invisiballs.)

[on handjobs:] Learning how to please a man is simple: ask him. Treating it as a guessing game can be dangerously hit and miss (and more bad guesses could further dent your confidence). Or simply listen for his cues ('slow down,' 'firmer,' 'gently,' 'faster,' etc are directions, not criticisms).
Man, British chicks get this and we get fucking shoelaces.

Is there anything you should avoid wearing if you're tall?
Yes, flats! Rock it if you've got it. Many people would love to be tall, so flaunt it ladies.

I know it's weird to see telling women to wear high heels as progressive, but this is such a breath of fresh air compared to US Cosmo's constant "minimize all deviations" fashion philosophy.

The most memorable football games are when your team pulls off a miraculous win in the 90th minute, right? It's the same with sex. The more tension you create, the more arousal. And that's what foreplay's about--building anticipation.
Yes, but when do we compare our favorite trees or eat bananas or rub a hairbrush on his junk? This stupid British-people magazine has no concrete advice, that's its problem.

Well, that and being written by sane people. The reason I haven't quoted that many parts is that there's just huge swaths of decent, reasonable writing. It's not amazing or anything, but it's respectful of the audience and... it's just not bizarre. There aren't any howlers. I could probably cherry-pick some things I disagree with, but there isn't a mountain of wrongness. There's no British equivalent to the shoelace trick.

Don't copy your friends. Sheep do that and they end up on a plate with mint sauce.
I... I think I love you, UK Cosmo.


  1. I wonder how much of the difference is due to the difference in the magazine industry between the US and the UK. "Lad mags" aside, as I haven't actually read any, the specialty mags (in my case, science fiction and gaming) seem much more comprehensive, invested in their subject, invested in writing about it well, and much less about being a vehicle for advertisements. (They still have them, of course, but they tend not to be beholden to them in the same way. I've never seen an American magazine give a 1-star rating to a book that's being advertised in that issue.)

  2. The problem I have with a lot of this so-called "anti-male" stuff is how so often it's another way of keeping the status quo and doesn't actually bother men whatsoever, except for when they want the chance to shout "double standards!", usually to stop women airing genuine concerns. You know, "what about the menz" and all that.

    When men are portrayed as being a bit useless, it's with the idea that women should just accept this and let them continue to not do housework, not take care of their kids, etc, and generally carry on being as sexist as they please. It's okay, because at least we women all know we're actually soooo much smarter than the men, ha ha ha, who needs feminism anymore, right?

    When women are portrayed as being a bit useless, it's with the idea that they need to be policed for their own good because they can't be trusted to make any rational decisions for themselves.

    If this so called double standard actually bothered men, they would be doing something about it. They're not.

    It's almost as funny as when white people go on about "reverse racism".

    On a more positive note... the free gifts with magazines here are often actually pretty good.

  3. I meant to include a link with my last comment:

  4. I don't think women should fight anti-male sexism.

    Let me back up. I don't think feminism should fight anti-male sexism. Feminism, it seems to me, exists to overcome and neutralize and vanquish anti-female sexism. Anti-ale sexism is outside that sphere. Feminism certainly shouldn't embrace or endorse anti-male sexism -- it's not zero-sum, misandrist things aren't automatically feminist, nor vice versa. But when a man complains to feminism about anti-male sexism, feminism is well within its rights to say "that's terrible, someone really should do something about it."

    Notice I said "feminism," not "feminists." Feminists are individuals, of course, and some of them may also want to fight anti-male sexism (if, as Theis noted, they can find any), but that doesn't make fighting anti-male sexism feminism, any more than a feminist sitting on a chair makes sitting feminist.

    1. I think feminism means ensuring that men and women are equal- economically, socially, legally, etc. So fighting anti-amle sexism, where it exists, seems to me to be part of that goal. I think fighting sexism is a big part of being a feminist, and sexism against men is part of that. sticking to traditional, heteronormative gender roles keeps both women and men down, although women to a greater extent because of the submissive nature of our assigned role. so i definitely have to disagree with you there - narrowing feminism's role to only combating female-targeted sexism seems short-sighted, because it's all related and all connected in the long run. Everyone is freer when everyone is freer.

  5. Theis - I don't think it's fair to say that as long as women are oppressed, nothing bad can happen to men. Maybe there can't be reverse "sexism" or "racism" exactly, but there can definitely be hateful speech and acts against men and whites and those are not okay.

    To be honest I don't file things into "feminist" and "not feminist" in my mind--it's more "good" and "not good," and habitually depicting men as useless, whether it harms men or women or both, is Not Good.

    Likewise, with that essay you posted: it says to me that slurs against blacks are worse than "honky", that black people's treatment in general is worse, and that a white person going around saying "but the real problem here is reverse racism" is a jerk... but all this doesn't make "honky" okay. It makes it a lesser priority of Not Good thing, but still Not Good.

    Hershele - As I kind of said above, I don't know if feminism should be concerned with how men should be treated, but people should be.

  6. . . . Man, UK Cosmo actually sounds pretty cool.

  7. Concern with how people should be treated is the concern of, I don't know, "personism." If equality had been achieved generations I'd say there should be no shame in policing it in regards to one gender in particular; how much more so when there is not, in fact, equality.

    Again, I'm not saying no one, or even no women, should be concerned with the sexist victimization of men wherever that occurs, just that it needn't be the concern of feminism as a movement. There may well be inequalities in, say, family court that disadvantage men, but it's not up to feminists-qua-feminists to fix it.

  8. Actually this is unusual, normally UK Cosmo is worse (for a while I used to read both). While they're Ok with you asking your partner what he wants they don't think you ought to communicate your desires back, and moreover if you don't get off on whatever he feels like doing you're a failure who is doing sex wrong. Also they tend to have sex tips like "stare into each others eyes instead of foreplay" and "men are more visually aroused and women are aroused by fantasies, so imagine a romantic beach or a really expensive hotel room," implying that real women can get turned on by love and money rather than, you know, sexy sexual dirty men-only things.