I am going to discuss the question “How Far Do Magazines Rely On Stereotypes In The Representation Of Gender” by referring to magazines I have studied which are Cosmopolitan & Men’s Health (August 2004 issue), and I will also briefly look at Zoo (men’s lifestyle magazine, Issue 86) and Pride (woman’s lifestyle magazine, December 2001 Issue).
Cosmopolitan is a woman’s lifestyle magazine, its target audience is mainly women aged 18 – 35, social class category C2, C1 + B, and according to “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” women satisfied by esteem needs as they aspire to look good and stay attractive while having a young and fun personality. Men’s Health is a men’s lifestyle magazine targeting men of age 18 – 35, of social class categories C2, C1 and B and “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”, men who need security needs, as they need to satisfy their partners to make sure they stay with them, and also of esteem needs are they aspire to look good, attractive, young and being outgoing.
I will also briefly be discussing Zoo and Pride, Zoo being a men’s lifestyle magazine, targeting those aged 18-30, of social class categories D, C2 and C1, with “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”, men who require esteem needs, as Zoo is a young man’s lifestyle magazine they will want to have a young, fun and outgoing personality, look good and attract lots of girls.
Pride is a specialized black woman’s lifestyle magazine aimed at older more mature women aged 25+, with a social class category C2, C1 and B, with a life style of matured, strong independent with psychographics of aspirers/achievers and with “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”, they require self esteem, the option to choose.
Key words I will be using will be gate keeping – where media producers such as magazine editors control and alter the content and messages of magazines, socialization – being an active member of society, the myth of femininity/masculinity – where the magazine provides an ideal image/lifestyle and stereotypes – where a single idealized model represents all those of the same sex, such as cosmo’s glamour look, makes women look the way they should to satisfy the male glaze.
Each magazine has their own individual stereotype, which are created through the myth of femininity/masculinity such as cosmo’s myth, which its target audience aspire to be “The Strong independent woman, who is good looking and attractive and who also has a fun, outgoing personality”. This can be reinforced by advertorials such as a Breil Milano (Watch) advert where a woman is pictured holding a gun and posed in a sexy James Bond girl style pose and costume shows that the woman is strong, powerful and that she takes on an element of masculinity, and this shows that the women who buy this watch will achieve their aspiration.
In Cosmo issue April 2005 page 7, an advertorial of the DKNY fragrance shows a woman, with a seductive pose, mouth slightly open and her finger on her lips, her shoulders are exposed to see a bra strap and her hair is blowing across her face, this supports the male gaze. The advertorial encourages the woman to get this fragrance so they can achieve their aspiration of having the ideal image. The quote of delicious suggests that women should be delicious for men which also shows patriarchy, where the men is still dominant and women are objects of desire.
In Cosmo September 2003 issue page 45, it is an advert for Hugo Boss fragrance with the quote “your fragrance, your rules” which shows that she will be in control “your rules” and she has the power if she buys the product. The photo holds a female gaze as well as a male gaze, where the woman aspires to be her in order to be more powerful, where the lighting shows that she is a mysterious woman, and her pose, where she has her hands on her hips and a powerful facial expression shows that she is strong, dominant.
The stereotype is created through the myth of femininity where the woman aspire to have this ideal image from looking at the woman portrayed in the adverts. Men’s health’s stereotype is created though their myth that the man should be “Confident, strong, built, and masculine and looks young and cool”, and also “looks and feel better”. This is reinforced by Men’s health, august 2004 issue’s front cover which shows a man in black and white, a neutral colour so it does not mistaken it as a gay mans magazine but showing it is for straight men.
The male gaze is represented here as the man would aspire to be the Men’s health cover model, as he is the ideal representation of the men’s health target audience, where he is muscular, attractive and gives of an aura of masculinity. Page 61 “What you can learn from the Sopranos” is an example of socialization by transforming the audience into an active participant of society through the mass media by talking about the ingredients that make the “Soprano” a successful man, “Mind”, “Cojones”, “Swearing”, “Suit” ; “Drink”.
On page 114, “Six Pack in Six Weeks” encourages the audience to read this editorial which shows them how to get a “Six Pack” therefore they are achieving their aspiration of becoming the ideal image. The editorial on page 67 “7 Signs she’s good in bed” is an example of patriarchic view as the male judges how good the woman is in bed. The stereotype created here is from the myth that the man should be “Confident, strong, built, and masculine and looks young and cool” encouraging the audience to aspire to have this ideal representation by following the typical man portrayed in the magazine.
Although Pride and Zoo are lifestyle magazines they have their own different stereotypes from Cosmo and Men’s Health. With pride, it has a different stereotype as they are targeted at a different female audience. Although it is aimed at black women of 25+ their myth that their target audience aspires to be is the more matured, independent woman look good young and has an outgoing personality. The magazine contains less pictures of men, but mainly women, which reinforces the myth of the woman is independent, and also reinforcing the females to aspire to achieve their ideal image by looking at these women.
Page 86 “Hair Looks” is an editorial which shows the women’s ideal image with hair encouraging them to get these styles. Page 56 “celebrity fashion” is also reinforcing the myth, where the woman should buy these items of clothing to achieve the ideal image. The magazine also reinforces patriarchic roles, where it has an editorial “Man of the Month” showing a picture of “Samuel L Jackson” where it shows dominance of the man and the female gaze but a more matured man for a more matured woman as he isn’t in any sexy pose or outfit, but rather a casual pose and outfit showing he is mature.
Pride also promotes a socialized gender role, where they should look good while not looking to tarty which also reinforces the myth of being mature. Zoo a men’s lifestyle magazine shows the myth where they men want to look young, be good looking have the attention from women and have an interest in sports. The editorial on p22 is about cars, which the TA aspires to obtain to achieve the ideal image, and also on page 51 shows the latest gadgets such as Mp3 players which the TA also aspire to obtain.
This reinforces the myth of being young and aspiring to have products which make them attractive, and attract the attention from all the women. From page 62, there is a pin up of Jennifer Ellison which is an example of the male gaze, where they aspire to have a woman like her. On page 63, “looking good” is a advertorial of hair products which would encourage the TA to purchase the products to achieve the ideal image.
These magazines myths are all created though the editor, where he controls the content of the magazine so that they provide an ideal representation for the target audience to aspire to. Although the magazine provides an ideal representation, the audience has a choice of following the ideal representation, this is an active audience as they can choose the messages that they want to absorb and to block out. These myths created by the magazines encourage the audience to purchase these products which are not necessary but to have them to achieve ideal image.
For example, Cosmo’s myth of femininity, together with the adverts and editorials encourage the audience to purchase the products offered by the adverts (hair products, fragrance and clothing) to achieve the ideal lifestyle that the magazine portrays which helps the magazine to sell the products and as it is consistent, the TA would continue to read the magazine to find the certain products which would help them achieve this ideal image.
The Passive audience is the theory of the Hypodermic model, where a hypodermic needle is used to inject the media into the audience’s blood stream like a drug. The audience has no choice of accepting the media or not accepting the media as they are manipulated by the media therefore accepting everything the media offers them. This is different from the active audiences where they are an individual who makes the choices to reject certain messages that the media offers them.
Many magazines shows the feminist belief that the mass media reinforces patriarchic view where the man is always dominant and in control such as the advert in Cosmo (Issue April 2005 page 7) DKNY Fragrance, although the woman is to be strong and independent, they would be the object of desire “Be delicious” and eventually be controlled by the man.
In conclusion “How far do magazines rely on stereotypes in representations of gender” is that they rely on their myths, myth of femininity for the female magazines and the myth of masculinity for the male magazines, which ensures that the readers continue to read their magazines and is also key for there income as they will be advertising products for companies.
They rely on the male gaze in magazines such as men’s health as they encourage the men to aspire to have the ideal image of being strong, masculine and toned (reinforced by the front cover of men’s health), this in turn encourages the active audiences to absorb the message conveyed therefore they will buy men’s health for their different editorials on how to achieve this ideal lifestyle while at the same time they will purchase products advertised in the magazine such as pills and gym equipment.
On magazines such as Cosmo the female gaze encourages the females to aspire to become the ideal image represented by Cosmo which is to be good looking, young, sexy. As they want to be attractive they would aspire to become the object of desire for men so that they can be dominant therefore would purchase products advertised in Cosmo to achieve the aspiration, and also continue reading Cosmo so that they can find new ways to become the strong, powerful independent and attractive young woman.