Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Analysis of Cosmopolitan Magazine

I, like any other boy or man I know, would like to understand women. Even just a little bit. This seems to be an impossible task, and I often wonder why women think in such a different (sometimes irrational and vice versa, to be fair) manner than us. You know that face Kobe Bryant makes when a referee makes a call he doesn't like or agree with? That's pretty much the way my face is after every argument I ever engage in with the fairer sex. "Defensive three-second violation" is to Kobe as "You're the asshole that doesn't want to date me just because I threatened to cut your penis off and donate it to Cher" is to Scott.

As far back as I can remember, no man has had an explanation for any of this shit, and virtually no progress has been made. Instead, elder males always say the exact same thing: none of us can ever understand a woman. That's it; all they say. They don't even make the effort to try, mainly because there's no real obvious way to do it. If they get pissed at you and you try to talk to them, they just cry then run away and call their mothers, which immediately turns it into a triangle match with a female alliance based solely on irrational thinking. Not only will you not understand what they're thinking or what you really did wrong, but you'll almost instantly have two people harassing you, when all you were doing was trying to gain some fucking knowledge. It's like trying to figure out the ending of Gone Baby Gone on your first viewing, except Morgan Freeman isn't spewing awesome sagely wisdom everywhere.

But I think I may have found a way to understand, at least a little more than most men do now. It came to me during an epiphany when I was at Wal*Mart the other day (kind of like the time I decided to mix ranch and ketchup together and dip chicken tenders in it...an epiphany of the highest order) waiting in line to pay for my Faded Glory flannel shirts and copy of Stephenie Meyer's teen romance novel, Eclipse --not a joke. I looked at the magazine rack and saw this month's issue of Cosmopolitan, or as those in the know call it, Cosmo.

I picked it up and started looking at it, becaus sometimes I do that. I do this because they often have sexual tips that girls are supposed to perform on their boyfriends (or whomever, Cosmo tends to bring out the inner slut in folks) that are just totally hilarious. At least until one of them is performed on you. Because you see, at least 60 percent of the sexual tips I've come across in Cosmo have been things I would not, under any circumstances, want any woman doing to me. Some of these things are so harrowing and frightful that I can't even think about them, much less write them down here. They're so fucked up that, months or even years after reading them, I still remember what they are, and they make me cringe. (Just for the record, too, I'm not a prude, so it's not like I'm overly sensitive to people trying to experiment sexually. It should just be stated that I have a very perverted mind, and I'm not some softy who cringes when he reads about someone getting a handjob in a movie theater. This shit is beyond that.)

I was just checking out the picture of Jessica Simpson on the cover--because, well, she's hott--and considering some of the odd things I've read in Cosmo, when I just absent-mindedly said to myself, under my breath: "Some of that shit is just so irrational."

That's when the lightbulb went off. Women and Cosmo have something in common: Sometimes they make no fucking sense. And you know what? Every woman reads Cosmo. You could call this a generalization, but it's an accurate one. Have you ever been to a public swiming pool in the summer? Well, I fucking have, and every woman brings their copy of Cosmo. This starts in the 7th grade (and the way things are going these days, will soon drift down to 3rd, kindergarten. By 2012 Cosmo may actually manufacture a version of Hooked On Phonics for pre-schoolers. Five year olds will be able to read and pronounce the word "clitoris" before they're tall enough to ride a roller coaster at Cedar Point.), when they sit there with their friends and review style tips and giggle over sexual tips. This continues for the rest of their lives, and they continue to sit there with their friends and review style tips and giggle over sexual tips. This is assuming they still have friends once they reach 20, because due to the brainwashing from Cosmo that turns them into dirty whores, they've hooked up with everyone's boyfriends in a cat's cradle kind of clusterfuck and they all hate each other. It's not unlike an episode of Melrose Place.

Anyway, all of that shit was running through my head, and I still had the magazine in my hand when I got to the end of the checkout line. I started to panic, but somehow kept my head and decided it'd be a good idea to actually purchase a fucking copy of Cosmo. I put it down on the counter and was pretty reassured that the cashier wouldn't think I was a total fucking moron. There was that copy of Eclipse, which is predominately read by girls, that complimented the magazine pretty well. She probably thought I was buying these things for a girlfriend, because there was also a flannel shirt, which is undeniably masculine.

Either that, or she thought I was Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. If I'd had lotion in my cart, she probably would've made a joke about "putting the lotion in the basket," and, "it does what it's told."

My real intention in buying the magazine was to leaf through it (okay, read it cover to cover while wearing eye liner and spandex tights), and sort of analyze all of the things that made no sense to me. Then, I'd use my keen observational skills to see if any women were following the advice from the magazine, thus proving my hypothesis that Cosmo guides women in the wrong direction and--at least partially--contributes to their confusing nature that is often viewed by men as incoherent and irrational. So, here it goes.

Rationally speaking, the most justified way to start such a project would be with the cover. We all know the old adage that says people shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but this is not true as far as magazines go. You see, magazines always have "cover stories" that say what's going to be, allegedly, the most interesting articles in the magazine. So, I'll go from cover story headline to headline, then flip to the page the article is on and thoroughly analyze it for your reading pleasure. I'll try to be objective, or at least not completely mysognynistic. I'll start with least ridiculous and progress to most absurd.

Jessica Simpson: Even MORE uncensored: I chose this as least ridiculous because, well it's Jessica Simpson. She's pretty much a simpleton, so I just kind of figured, what damage could she really do? Then I opened to the interview, titled "Sexy Texan" and remembered that she is presently attempting to sing country songs and is failing more than miserably. Also, she's dating Tony Romo, who has a mole not unlike the dude in the third Austin Powers movie.

This interview was pretty insightful, in that it let me know why she's failing so miserably at country singing. She told Cosmo that she wrote most of the songs on her new album. Case closed.

About Romo and past relationships, she said (I'm not making this shit up) "I'd always fall for guys I wanted to save. For the first time, I fell in love with somone who saved me." I can understand the savior thing, because without Romo she may have ended up with fucking Pete Wentz, like her little sister did. This quote just struck me as ridiculous because it's one of those hokie ones you see high school girls sending to one another on Facebook bumper stickers. I learned from this article that she could've been a fucking staff writer for Sex and the City.

She also called him her best friend, and said it's nice to be in love with your friend. There's weird girl thing number one. Girls sometimes love eachother, and upon drinking a few martinis become what we call "barsexual." This is a brief amount of time where they like to make out just because they're best friends, and it's not supposed to be weird at all. Sure, it's enjoyable to watch for guys, but still different from the way we operate. I've been getting drunk with Evan since we were thirteen, and we've never made out (not entirely true).

She also calls him her rock. I've heard that one before.

Sexy vs. Skanky: This one was just pretty much pointless, I think. It was all obvious stuff, like it's sexy to smooch sweetly in public but skanky to have a tongue filled public make-out session. I did, however, find one extremely irrational portion. They wrote that it's sexy to "spread harmless gossip," but skanky to "spread STD's." Naturally, I agree with the latter assesment, but what guy have you ever met that is like, "Dude, I totally wanna wife that girl because she told me about that threesome Lenny had with those two Asian-American girls even though he had a girlfriend?" That's not sexy. Why the fuck would you tell a woman that it's sexy to gossip? Guys hate that shit, unless you're Perez Hilton, and I'm not totally sold that he's even a dude.

This was the bonus section of the magazine. What a ripoff.

18 Genius Ways to Make your Cash go Further: This one wasn't all that remarkeable, it just had the normal shit you do to save money when the country's in an economic crisis. You're not supposed to go out to eat as often or drive as much, and you're not supposed to buy Coach purses or berets made from the skin of starving children.

I was surprised to see that Cosmo didn't suggest the most obvious and simple way to make a woman's cash go further: Get a fucking boyfriend. Guys usually pay for everything, and, much to my chagrin, chivalry is not completely dead yet.

**Writer's Note: Apparently, when they passed Title IX, they failed to include a bullet that required women to go dutch on dinners, movie tickets, late night ice cream purchases, or Celine Dion backstage passes. Also, we're still not allowed to charge them for beer when they come to a party, or even hit them. This is like...okay I'm not even going to write the two analogies I had, because they're so inappropriate I don't even want to print them.

The Trick that Attracts Hot Guys like Crazy: First, they say not to disregard the basics. The basics: Dress like a slut and suck on a Tootsie Pop the entire night. Also, don't cut your hair like Natalie Portman in V For Vendetta. They then say to choose your wingwomen wisely. They throw out all of this shit about the girls needing to be outgoing; by this they mean keeps some fat, ugly bitches with terrible personalities at your side at all time. Eliminate the competition. They say to show off your neck and shoulders, and call this a stealthy tactic. Fuck that. Showing off half of your upper body is about as stealthy as Drew Barrymore is talented/appealing. Just take off the entire shirt and just rock a bra. Dudes like bras. Believe me. They go further, and say to subtly show off your lower half, which is just fucking redundant. Stealthily and subtly are synonyms. Waste less time, space, and paper and write "stealthily show off your entire fucking body."

Lastly, they say to put on your best game face. I was confused by this, but apparently Cosmo has a different definition of the game face than anyone who has ever seen Little Giants. My first impression was that they wanted women to take a tums and let it foam out of their mouth, and that they believed this would attract Kenneth Cole models. Apparently, they just think a game face is a smile. Needless to say, The Legion of Doom and Pooh's friend Eeyore never read Cosmo.

Remember, ladies, if you want to attract cute boys (and intellectual properties are totally out of the equation), just remember the old Dwight Schrute proverb: The eyes are the groin of the head.

You can also just be friendly, sensible, and funny. Believe it or not, you can get guys acting like yourself. I've seen it happen from time to time. People don't (usually) get married because a woman stealthily exposed her collarbone to the male at a bar once.

Total Body Sex: Finally, we get to the part where they tell you weird shit to do that guys are supposed to dig. There are a great deal of things that were disturbing about this, and they even mentioned the adrenal glands. To be honest, some of the suggestions weren't too bad. Some were actually pretty fucking rad. They said some things about the feet that moderately freaked me out, and they also said pinching a dude's nipples was a good idea. That's just downright scary to me, but I consulted a female source who claims to have experimented with this phenomenon and said there was no displeasure or fear evident during the process. I'm not sold on that, and I think further research may be necessary.

Props to Cosmo on this one thing, though. They taught me what the medical name for a taint is: the perineum. That's like the Holy Grail of anatomy names in that it's virtually impossible to find.

What He Thinks of Your Orgasm Face: I'm not sure if this even warrants an entire article. Basically, guys think of one of two things when they see the elusive O-Face: 1) Yes! I did it!!!!!, and 2) Is she faking it?

But Cosmo has an uncanny ability to state the obvious, kind of like John Madden when he's commentating a football game. Their first piece of advice for the woman is to breathe deeply, as if something like this is really in their control at such a moment. I'm pretty sure if you don't breathe deeply while reaching climax, you will start to grow faint and maybe go blue in the face. If this happens, then the guy will be frightened and maybe begin to perform first aid on you. They also might ask if you have asthma, and if so, should they retrieve your inhaler? They also say not to stifle your moans and groans. My question is why would you? Start cackling like a fucking hyena if you want to, men will dig it. This could be a bad idea, though, if you're doing the deed at a church lock-in at the local YMCA or you're in your bedroom "studying" while your parents are in the living room playing Yahtzee or Backgammon. If it's a situation like that, either stifle the moans and groans or put a pillow over your face...this could be a win-win if you're one of those girls that likes to refrain from breathing heavily. With a pillow over your face, they man will not see it turning blue. Also, if the guy has no visible reinforcement, he won't have the slightest clue whether you're faking it or not.

How to Outsmart a Date Rapist: I attempted to read this one, but when I saw the subline "Fight Like a Tiger," I just pretty much quit. Apparently, their definition of fighting like a tiger is to go for the soft spots, like the groin, eyes, knees, or nose. Apparently the Cosmo writers didn't bother to research the fact that most date rapes occur when the girl is under the influence of some sort of drug that renders them unconscious, which makes this virtually impossible.

So, to outsmart a date rapist, just don't go to raves or suspect frat parties. If you're at a normal party, don't be lazy and go get your own drinks. Keep your hand over the opening of the drink, and be vigilant. If someone drops something in your drink, don't consume it. There you have it.

Cosmo's Naked Quiz: They always have a fucking quiz. I figured I'd take it. Why not? This was a series of questions (obviously for women, but hey) that determines how comfortable you are being in the good old birthday suit. I scored in between the classifactions of, "You're a surface sex bomb," (whatever the fuck that means), and "You're unnerved when you're naked." Now, I know this is some stuff for girls, but allow me to be the first one to tell you that I am in no way unnerved by being naked. If you don't believe me, ask my roommates, who have seen me do naked lunges on more than one occasion--per week. This leads me to believe that Cosmo is giving girls the illusion that just because they don't parade around naked all the time like they're Carmen Electra or Angelina Jolie in Taking Lives they're overweight and should be uncomfortable with their bodies. Let me let you in on a guy secret: we like to see girls naked, and you are not as fat as you think (usually), and if you say you don't want to be naked because of your alleged obesity and we tell you you are not fat, we mean it. If we don't want to see you naked, we will either say something to that effect or will noticeably cringe when you disrobe.

So, there it is. My analysis of Cosmo magazine. I can't rationally say that it makes women act irrationially, but I also can't say it's giving them the perfect advice. There were a great deal of things in the magazine that astounded me, and a few portions that even forced me to unintentionally don the "Kobe" face. I do know that they should slow their roll a little bit, or maybe get the opinion of more male figures before publishing certain things, but then that might ruin all of the fun. Men will never totally understand women, and Cosmo is a conduit for that message.

This whole drawn-out analysis has made me believe that maybe Cosmo is a bit sensationalistic and that they cater to the female audience without really giving so much thought to what men like or what is truly a healthy direction to steer impressionable women in.

All of this could easily be my non-objective male viewpoint talking, though, and if it is I apologize for wasting your time.

I did learn one thing for sure, though. Men aren't meant to read Cosmo, just like adults aren't meant to read Highlights.