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Representing gender Essays

Men and women are known to have differences and similarities, which is why marketers often divide their possible consumers into either male or female. This marketing strategy is evident in the marketing, and creating and putting together of the content of magazines. Men’s and women’s magazines are both similar and different in their content depending on the audience that they seek to entice. In this paper, the magazines to be compared and contrasted are: GQ and Elle, and Maxim and Cosmopolitan.
GQ and Elle magazines are similar in the sense that their focus is generally on current fashion, fashion trends and tips on how to look good and what to buy for the season. It also features stars and other high-profile people, information about them, and interviews about their life and their projects. Both feature ads for clothes and fashion accessories, perfume and other scents, decoration and furniture, jewelry, campaign ads, and wine and other drinks (for GQ) and cosmetics (for Elle). While this may be the main thrust of these two magazines, they both diverge at different points.
Cover faces of Elle are actresses and famous women personalities wearing fashionable clothes. GQ often focuses on stylish actors and famous male personalities as well as scantily-clad female stars. GQ’s covers feature topics from the main articles of the personalities in their cover pages to health, fitness and health, fashion, humor, and current news. Elle’s on the other hand, also have topics from their featured cover personality, but other featured articles (aside from fashion) on the cover include shopping, male insider tips, relationships, success, tips on looking good and reproductive and diet disorder information.
Both Maxim and Cosmopolitan are considered as men’s and women’s total guides, respectively. Both converge at taking tabs on the opposite sex by featuring “hot” men who are popular to women (in Cosmopolitan) and “hot” women who are poplar to men (in Maxim). Other than these two factors, the magazine, once again, diverges.
Cosmopolitan’s covers show personalities in fashionable clothes, while Maxim shows these stars wearing very little, and often only in swimsuits or underwear. While the female magazine’s cover articles are often about sex, being sexy, dieting tips, and dating (aside from the usual interview and article about the stars), the men’s magazine focuses on women, movies, news, and sports. Other areas of interest that Maxim boasts of are gaming, humor, movies, music, and television shows. Cosmopolitan’s other areas of interest include love and love advice, style, and horoscopes and other conversation starters and quizzes. The ads that they feature are quite similar to that of the previously discussed Elle and GQ, however, Cosmopolitan and Maxim’s ads have more sexually charged content.
Looking closely at the articles, it is quite easy to see the difference between these men’s magazines and women’s magazines. They clearly convey a plethora of gender expectations that are being set by current society and culture. Both men and women are being encouraged to be both fashionable and open to sex, as well as staying healthy as a similar push for both genders. They are also being let off the hook by society by instilling the idea that it’s all right for them to look at women sexually anytime and that women should be flattered when they are being seen as sexy by men (although conservative feminists and some other feminists would balk at this seeing this as a renewed assault on the objectification of women as opposed to liberal feminists who celebrate the independence of women). Their deviation comes in when their gender roles are being defined. Women are being expected to be sexy and to be very active and initiators of sex. They are also being expected to be independent and be the ones to initiate, analyze and maintain a relationship with their mates. Men are being expected to know about sports and games, politics and current events aside from fashion, sex and girls.
Because of the proliferation of these magazines, it is evident that there are political implications involved. We see that in both men’s magazines, there is a political or current events section that informs the readers on their environment. Women’s magazines, do not have the same feature embedded in them. This causes a gender disparity in terms of political knowledge and contribution. The lack of this aspect in magazines lessens the political knowledge of women, therefore lessens their participation in politics. This is further highlighted by Mira Sotirovic in her paper, “Gender Differences in News Media Use and Their Political Implications”, stating that:
“Lower levels of political knowledge among women reflects their lower levels of using political news media content than do men, but women who do follow news about political figures and events in Washington are even more likely then men to know basic political facts…This helps to mitigate and potentially reverse the gender gaps resulting from lower levels of media use.”

Her observations point to the fact that men are exposed to political information even in leisure magazines which, in turn, becomes a more active participation in the political process. Moreover, the lack of the presence of politics in these media often bought and read by many women contributes to their general weakness in the political arena.
Sotirovic, Mira. “Gender Differences In News Media Use And Their Political Implications” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, TBA, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 21, 2008 <Not Available>. 2009-02-03<http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p232103_index.html>

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