You shouldn’t need to read a magazine to learn what men think
So why do we find them so interesting?
Last week, Glamour magazine published 13 Little Things That Can Make a Man Fall Hard for You, an article which, according to its own editor, read like a 1950s marriage handbook. The article has since been deleted after an avalanche of outrage, but their website still has a whole section of similarly hilarious articles dedicated to “What Men Think”, presumably because the only things a woman needs to do to be successful are impress men and snare a husband. Repeat after me: You are only successful if you snare a man. You are only successful if you snare a man. You are only successful…
Articles as idiotic as “Do Men Like Big Butts? They Tell Us” and “6 Qualities That Make You Instantly More Attractive To Men” are problematic because they reinforce the idea we have to look a certain way or have certain qualities to be attractive to men, and assume that’s something you’d want to be anyway. They’re basically saying if you have a big butt and it turns out men don’t like them then too bad: sucks to be you.
But why do we have to care what men think? It’s a ridiculous standard to suggest women are only successful if they’re married, and to a man specifically. Not only is this outdated, it doesn’t take into account there are women who – shock horror – might not even be attracted to men. Or women who aren’t attracted to anyone. Or women who just don’t want to get married. Plus, these magazines basically suggest you have to trick men into marrying you by relying on their tips, sneakily hinting you’re not good enough as “just you”.
While we’re looking at generalisations, it’s probably worth pointing out the use of the word “men” is putting a lot of people in the same group together. In fact, that’s pretty much nearly half the global population. You’d expect some diversity in there but for the purpose of women’s magazines, men are all the same, a massive group of vest-wearing, LAD-Bible-liking, beer-in-the-shower-drinking Steves and Gavins.
Even if you’re a person who cares about what men think, the advice these mags offer is shite, unpractical and so psychotic it could lead to a sexual harassment case (or two). For instance, Glamour’s beginners guide to flirting on public transport recommends that if you’re standing, you should “lose your balance and reverse like a Disney Princess” into your chosen man. “Turn and gasp at the inappropriate body contact” it advises. Wow, it’s 8:14am and you just head-butted some poor guy on the tube – of course he’s going to want your number.
The same mag’s Strange Little Things Men Find Irresistible reads like a Nash Grier video. Third on the list is when girls “write funny email subject lines” while number eight is genuinely “having a career” because a “robust working life suggests you’re intelligent and driven…extra points if you actually like your job”. Leaving aside the fact it isn’t 2001 and nobody emails their significant other, why on earth is a woman having a career a strange little thing?
It may seem like I’m giving Glamour, one of the most-read publications in the UK, a hard time. But they’re not alone in their quest to make women feel like shit. Cosmo’s “15 signs you are REALLY close to finding your husband” includes nailing the “wife-material look” and being able to cook. They even have to add a disclaimer at the bottom of the article to let us know “men, marriage and babies are by no means essential to complete your life.” Thanks for clearing that one up, Cosmo. You worried me for a minute there.
What’s really terrifying is this stuff wouldn’t be written if it wasn’t being read, and so we as readers are all guilty, obsessed and gullible. That includes me too: I never used to wear hairbands purely because I read in a magazine they were “men’s least favourite accessory”. Apparently they remind men of schoolgirls, which makes sense because I was one at the time.
Being taught from an early age to put all our effort into impressing men and that the most important thing in life is, ultimately, marrying one means we are constantly looking for the easy answer when we realise we’ve not managed to do that yet. We never want to hear the answer to “Why am I single?” is something completely normal like the fact we can’t hold a conversation or just haven’t been in the right place at the right time in our life. Instead, we all choose to believe there might just be some magical secret nobody knows about – except magazine writers of course.