At first I responded a little huffily to this article on Jezebel, which takes to task the (ostensibly female) writer of a Men’s Health piece called “11 Qualities of the Perfect Woman.” In it, Lindy West rants about how the article is one more insidious way for women to feel bad about themselves and while I don’t disagree, necessarily, it seemed to me she was making some very shrill and rather sweeping statements about a rather piddly little blurb that, for all its grossness, was at least based on research done by scientists about male preference. Was it the article’s fault that studies have shown these things to be true? Not really.
But then I started clicking some links on the Men’s Health website and… Lindy, I’m with you. The people who write for Men’s Health seem much less concerned with the health of the masculine side of our spectrum and more concerned with being thoughtless, sexist douchebags to the other side of it.
Take this gem, entitled “Women Every man Should Date,” for example. It breaks down women into six neat categories, which is offensive enough, although I get that this could be more for the sake of simplicity than outright disregard for, uh, reality. But then it goes on to say the following about each of these “types.” Ahem:
1) The Urban Sophisticate: “Tell her you like her on top, preferably wearing something expensive that makes her breasts look hot.” And, from Neil Strauss, the expert who wrote the dating memoir The Game, “‘This is the kind of girl everyone wants, and it makes you feel awesome when you’re the one who has her.'” Right. Because men have women. Women are things that men have. GROSS.
2) The Arty Hipster: “‘”Girls like this have opinions,'” says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., a relationship therapist. Note that this juicy tidbit is listed under the section “Her Weaknesses.” Opinions are weaknesses, if artsy women have them. I am not making this up.
3) The Vegan Yoga Girl: “All that deep breathing means she rarely flies off the handle, and you value this perhaps even more than you value her amazing, high, tight rear.” Because other types of women do fly off the handle easily because of their crazy woman hormones, but they’re not as worth it because their asses aren’t as good. I believe that’s the implication here? Unless I’m mistaken? Someone, please enlighten me.
4) The Alpha Female: From the section on what alpha females are like in bed: “She’s efficient and skilled, but she can be more than sufficiently animal if you help her let her guard down.” So… don’t help her let her guard down. Don’t bother getting close to her emotionally, because shit might get too REAL in the bedroom.
5) The Intimacy Junkie: “So what if she’s a little in your face. The sex is amazing.” I mean… um… okay, okay, but then, “She’ll do anything, including some things that scare you. The word harness comes to mind. Tell her you’ll do it if she gets waxed.” Because men should only enjoy sex with harnesses involved (read: using strap-on) if the woman they’re with is properly groomed? What the…? I don’t know exactly why this offends because it’s so confusing, but… I’m still annoyed.
6) The Happy Homemaker: In the segment on her bedroom style: “She’ll be accommodating and eager at first, less so with each offspring.” I can’t even start on this one. It’s too much.
Look, I get that Men’s Health is a kind of silly style magazine for men who already buy into a lot of stereotypes about gender and superficiality, but seriously? I don’t think most men who see women as one of six specific types and take this kind of advice on how to “get” them and bed them are going to do very well in relationships with women, no matter which “type” they are. And I know I shouldn’t be actually worrying about the sexism in a magazine with other articles like “7 Signs She’ll be Good in Bed” and “Why Are You Hungry After You Just Ate?” Obviously this is a publication that is very concerned with objectifying people, no matter what gender or orientation. And obviously it’s catering to readers who feel the same way.
But I am offended that this kind of trash is sold widely in stores and has a circulation of almost two million in 2011. Over two million people might read about female “types” in print, and god knows how many more online. Oh no, what if I don’t fit into a “type”!? Men might not know how to categorize me! I’ll never be fulfilled as a human being! Am I a yoga girl because I do yoga and I don’t fly into rages very often? Or an urban sophisticate because I live in a city and enjoy being on top? Or an intimacy junkie because I’m not afraid of kinky sex? Or… wait. Maybe I’m a person. A person with a real personality.
Ick. Ick ick ick.