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I read a men’s magazine today

By Heather Oman

And it brought out my feminist ire (if you can call it that. Mostly, I just got bugged, but “feminist ire” sounds better). Not for the reasons you might think, though. I was offended because it was funny.

Let me back up. I’m not in the habit of reading men’s magazines. I’m not even sure I could name any magazine for men, except for maybe GQ, but only because I’ve heard GQ mentioned in regards to men dressing well (i.e, “He’s SO GQ!”).

(What does GQ stand for anyway? Gentlemen’s Quarterly? Genetic Quality? Gun Quest? Going Quorting? Oh, wait, courting starts with a C. My bad.)

But I was hanging out at my son’s Tae Kwon Do lesson, and there it was, sitting next to last week’s newspaper. I had already read last week’s newspaper, and the Esquire was the only thing to read. It also smelled really good, so I picked it up. The headlines on the cover made me laugh, so I flipped it open. Then I laughed some more. I laughed so much that the lady next to me asked what I was laughing about. I shared with her the letters to the editor section, which, along with regular letters, included “Highlighted context free excerpts from letters we will never print”. And because I know you’re just as curious as I was to know what kind of letters would be so bad you couldn’t print, I offer you the following, quoted from my not so good memory:

“I strongly recommend that you interview and then photograph my two children.”

“You can’t buy the shoe, you have to be the shoe.”

“By the time I was 24, I was the most celebrated mink designer in the world.”

“If you’ve never checked out the National Federation for Pole Dancing, I suggest you might want to.”

There was also the hilarious interview with William Shatner about his new sitcom, and not once was the man asked about his search for happiness or inner fulfillment. They talked about science fiction and bad waiters.

So I sat there, reading, laughing, enjoying the surprisingly witty writing, and smelling the awesome cologne pages (wow did that magazine smell good), and I thought, ‘Why don’t WOMEN write like this?”

I know lots of funny women writers, so I know that men are not inherently funnier than women. But I can’t remember a single time I laughed out loud reading People, or OK, or any of the other supermarket tabloids/hairdresser/airplane magazines I’ve read over the years. Mostly, it’s about make-up, hair, shoes, jewelry, and Brangelina. And interviews with celebrities include asking them their inner peace or character development, with not a witty story of bad waiters in sight.

So yes, my feminist ire was rankled, because I thought, “How come nobody writes funny magazines for women?” And then I was trying to figure out what it says about us that magazines aimed towards women have almost no humor at all. We all know that magazines are all about glossy images, celebrity gossip, and marketing manipulation. This magazine was no different, but why can’t we have a laugh or two thrown in? Seriously, what’s UP with that?

If you have come across something like that out there, please let me know. Otherwise, who’s in on creating a funny magazine for women? ‘Cause I’m thinking that there’s a huge untapped market out there. Plus, we can put MEN’s cologne tester strips instead of women’s perfume. I know it sounds weird, but trust me, I guarantee that will make them fly off the shelves.

About Heather Oman

(Prose Board) lives in the south with her husband, her two kids, and her wiggly black lab. She is a licensed speech language pathologist, but spends most of her days trying to teach her own kids how to say please and thank you. She is a member of the Segullah Editorial Board, and is the founding member of the blog Mormon Mommy Wars.

30 thoughts on “I read a men’s magazine today”

  1. Patrick, wow, that article describes exactly how I felt reading Esquire, except she said it better. Maybe it is something unique to the quality of Esquire? Still, the fact that Esquire's counterpart is Cosmo, a magazine that I can't read because at times it borders on obscene, says a lot.

  2. This is a very interesting (and disturbing) observation.

    You've got to be the comedian, I guess.

    My vote is for Segullah women to do more humorous pieces. 😉

  3. You want to know where some really hilarious–and even, occasionally, smart–writing happens? EW.com TV recaps. Of course, these recaps aren't specifically geared toward women, but some of the best recap women's shows like America's Next Top Model.

    You're right, though: where is the women's magazine with the same kind of humor/intellectualism as Esquire? I know here at Segullah that we could use to be funny, or at least light, more often. Interesting . . .

  4. I've noticed the same thing, Heather.

    Maybe it could be because men value being funny more that they value a lot of things. I read a survey once which concluded "Has a good sense of humor" is ranked in the top three attributes men want to have.

    The best issue of Esquire, and the one that would probably be really interesting to Segullah readers, is their annual "Women we love and why we love them" issue. And it's not what you might think — supermodels and Victoria's Secret models. I became a big fan the year they gave the top award to Aretha Franklin. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

  5. I think this is one of the reasons why blogging has become immensely popular to read- lots of people read blogs, but don't keep one themselves. There are so many funny, thoughtful, intelligent women bloggers, they've helped fill some of the void.

  6. Uh, don't google that. It turns out that their internet version IS all VS underwear models and movie stars. And you don't even get the cologne strips.

  7. I'm with Mark Brown – men value being funny more than women. I was also going to point out that blogging has opened up a vast new world of quick witted women. But magazines, nope, can't think of one.

    This is probably a good time to mention that I worship Tina Fey and if she started a magazine I would get subscriptions for me and my 100 closest friends.

  8. I started reading Seventeen when I was 13. Then

    I started reading Cosmo when I was 18. Then

    I started reading Esquire when I was 24–and haven't really stopped. Except they believe that the Oxford comma is a sin.

    Esquire shares space with my Martha Stewart Living.

  9. I think you are on to something. I'd love to improve my sense of humor! I think I used to be a lot funnier. Maybe having a good magazine (whose cover I don't have to hide) would help!

  10. I remember going to a comedy troupe a few times in college. The men were definitely funnier than the women. Was that because those women weren't just that funny, or were the men just funnier in general? I know my brothers were always funnier than me. Or was it they were just more confident to actually say something? Is it just a different sense of humor? I also remember reading up on men being more "free" in their writing. More able to push the boundaries, whereas girls would stick to what the teacher asked. Maybe it's related. I agree, there are plenty of funny women out there, and I do wonder why we don't see/hear from them as much. My friend writes at the Coming to Grips blog. She's pretty funny and has always been. She's also been more confident and is very good at expressing herself.

  11. Esquire has been going for a very long time. From their classic book of the 50s (What Every Young Man Should Know) to the current one.

    I used to subscribe. Been many, many years, guess I need to read another one.

  12. I've kept Esquire's 60th anniversary issue titled: "60 Things Every Man Should Know" hoping that I might use it to teach a few priesthood lessons, but I've yet to receive a calling to teach the brethren.

  13. Men have more freedom to be funny. A man can tell stories lampooning himself and get a laugh. A man can feign vaccuousness and it's funny. A man can be stupid or ignorant and it's funny. If a woman attempts any of those she's going to receive sympathy instead of laughs.

    Think about sitcoms. Men play the doofus while the females play the smart straight (wo)man.

  14. I'd have to agree. Some of the funniest people I know are men. When I was looking for my husband, I wanted someone with a sense of humor and I found him. I've had many people compliment me that my husband looks at life with a sense of humor and it's true. I do know several funny women but they tend to subdue it because it's awkward when they are too funny in social situations. I think of funny things all the time and I bite my tongue because I feel like people don't take me seriously if I say them. Is it socially unacceptable for women to be funny? I'll have to do some observing to find out. Maybe that is my social faux pas. I'm too funny for other women to process.

    My sister in law is one of the funniest women I know. I can't be in a room with her longer than 5 minutes and I'm laughing my head off. Laughter is good for the soul and for your health. Then why is it that women live longer than men?

  15. Tina Fey is completely odd when it comes to female humor.

    1. She is straight.
    2. She doesn't always make it about sex.
    3. She is confident.
    4. She is self-deprecating, but still #3.
    5. She doesn't act like a man.

    I can't think of another female comedian/writer who fits those same criteria as some of the funniest males. Women comedians try so hard to bridge the gap that they go overboard and think they have to be like me or push the envelope even further. Suddenly, Tina Fey comes along and everyone is shocked at her refreshing humor. She has the confidence (seemingly) of a funny man.

    And, to play the antagonist card, the "funniest" of writing on blogs usually comes from women debasing their family, their life, and full of cursing. Mostly. Why do these women get so much readership? On occasion they are very funny, but mostly they are upsetting.

    So, my question is: why do we not promote funny? Why do sites like this dwell on the tragic, the uplifting, the spiritual, but never the humorous and light? Are we afraid that humor is too easily offensive? That if we poke fun at ourselves that we become open to scrutiny?

    I'm all over the place with this comment, but this article has stirred a lot of thoughts and more questions.

  16. oops: the above comment SHOULD say:

    "Women comedians try so hard to bridge the gap that they go overboard and think they have to be like MEN or push the envelope even further."

  17. I agree that women should start a funny magazine with the cologne samples. I wonder if magazine creators believe women only want articles on fashion, Hollywood, style, etc and that's why no really humorous pieces are included…

  18. Esquire can be very funny. I remember reading it for the first time when I was 14, and although I'm not a regular reader, I used to LOVE the year end "award" they gave out for the stupidest whatever of the year. Soooo funny!

    Allure magazine isn't always hilarious, but they do have well written pieces by female writers that at times can be really funny. Ann Magneson is a musician, actress, and performance artist who sometimes writes for various magazine, and she is funny.

    Thanks for noticing this.

  19. Yes, definitely BE the change you want to see in the world. You want more funny blogs? Write them. Women can be just as funny as men (and as much as I love Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph are funny women too) but have to do it differently. A lot of times it comes from self depreciating humor, (including our own Beloved TF) but we would have to see more of a change in society to make it ok for women to be funny in the same way that men are funny.
    p.s. I am funny. Funny isn't always slapstick and bold. Sometimes funny is quiet and dry.


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