It used to be that Men's magazines dealt with manly things.
And it used to be that intelligent women read men's magazines because the articles weren't fluff, they were written by high-powered writers with something serious to say about a whole host of topics.
It used to be that intelligent women shied away from women's magazines because they were mostly frivolous ads and frivolous articles that no sane, secure and intelligent woman could be bothered with.
It used to be that too many women's magazines pretended to be about diet, fashion and the latest sexual trick to "keep him interested forever" when in fact they were mostly ads for the latest cream, blush, earring or lipstick colour. That was then.
Somewhere between 1985 and 1995 real articles began to creep into some women's magazines, somehow the intelligent women gained control of these tomes and brought ideas to the forefront. Not all of them, still too many are bent on the shallowfication of female society but things are changing and we welcome the changes. Ideas are more fun and the brain of a woman is indeed a very sexy thing.
Unfortunately around the same time this was happening the CEO's and marketing geniuses of the major make-up conglomerates and their counterparts in the fashion and jewelry industry realized that they had pretty well saturated their markets and were in fact competing with individual trends that spelled contraction of their sales.
Not being dummies they gathered in boardrooms around the world and began to brainstorm. "We need new markets" they said, "who are we not selling to?" they wondered aloud. Well, there's the poor but changing that is a long-term problem and well beyond their combined intellect or attention spans, but wait!
Wasn't there a whole group that was not buying their products, not needing make-up and jewelry, a whole group that is superficial and shallow and has tonnes of disposable cash? Yes, there was. Men, particularly working men and more specifically working men in offices.
"What if," they pondered, "instead of thinking they needed to be rugged, every man working in a office in America (and elsewhere) was made to believe that in order to get better women more often that what they needed were brand objects, pricey watches, jewelry, special bronzer make-ups and earrings?"
So a new industry was born, birthed in flashy fashion magazines directly aimed at men. Magazines with really short, pamphlet length articles on all sorts of cool stuff.
Magazines with cars and chicks and sex tips to drive her wild and make her beg for more, more often.
And as more and more of these proto-men magazines are sold, as the Sesame Street generation of mental intellects gets hooked on this type of communication, we'll slip in fashion guides telling them what they have to wear. And pretty soon they will all want these specific shoes, and that specific watch and that certain smell and this type of bronzer.
Then we can begin to control what's cool, what's hot and what they wear and as each season comes anew we'll change it, burnt orange one year, Cuba style the next, Italian renaissance followed by oxford conservative the next.
With each issue of every magazine slowly more and more flash and less substance until the only ideas in there are empty ones for the new proto-male, vapid and insecure, controllable and pretty. And so it became real.
So, you ask, what brought this up?
Well, I bought the 45th anniversary edition of GQ, which has always been on forefront of the proto-male creature anyway, even long before the make-up industry thought that hunky man would look even better with blush. I bought this issue because Heidi Klum is on the cover and apparently she appears somewhere inside recreating some of the sexiest shots in the history of testosterone caused salivation.
I also bought this magazine because all down the cover were the names of some pretty good writers and the titles of some pretty interesting articles. I couldn't find them because after buying this magazine I tossed it in the recycling bin when I hit the 50 page mark and was still going through ads for fashion products geared toward the superficial male.
It's not that I hadn't come across any information by this point, no, there was a table of contents at page 22, well half a table, the other half appeared four pages later sharing a page with more ads.
As I sat there counting and correlating what was on each page I realized that a lot of what I saw here was being worn by the castrated sheep/men I work with and it was then that I was left with two thoughts: 1) they've succeeded in making men the new women. And 2) thankfully not with me.
So I'm going back to my old magazines which still deal in manly things but should that change I've bought a special exacto-knife specifically to cut the offending pages out.
I tried that on the GQ but it fell apart when 60 % of it was removed.