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representationn of men in mens magazines

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Introduction

05/05/09 A Study into the representation of men in men's magazines. The number of men's magazines, or lads mags, such as FHM, Loaded, Men's Health and GQ have rapidly grown in the past 10 - 15 years. Some argue that these relatively new types of magazines are negative because of the way they are openly sexist against women. The content of many of these 'lifestyle' magazines is very general, which could explain why they appeals to such a wide range. David Sharples states that "In the early to mid 1990's the men's magazine revolution began to take off in response perhaps to the development of women's position in society, and as they fought to change their roles, some men felt pressure to change too". All media texts give a mediated version of reality. Representation is a version of reality, it symbolises something or someone else. A representation is part of the ideology which the producers want to project, and the reaction of the audience to the representation. Groups of people are often represented and become stereotypes, this is through the processes of categorisation, repetition and applying a value judgement. '...as soon as somebody comes along they are categorised in the media and people want to say, "Okay, he fits this concept," or, "This is who he is," and we want to define him immediately and they put a label on you.' Leonardo DiCaprio, FHM April 2003. There have been lots of criticism of representations of females in these magazines, because people believe them to be sexist, portraying women as sex objects, emotional, and reinforcing the stereotype that women are available for sex at any time. In a way, representation's of men in the same magazines can be seen as an opposition to this, representations of men tend to only portray one side of masculinity, and do not show emotion. Masculinity is characterised in these magazines by aggression, competitiveness and emotional ineptitude. ...read more.

Middle

Individual consumer of any media text do so to fulfil their own needs and interests. Mcquail, Blumer and Brown cited four categories of needs gratification, of which three can be applied to the readers of mens magazines; diversion, personal relationships and personal identity or individual psychology. They want an escape from routine problems, and it gives them an emotional release. The audience use the magazine as value reinforcement or reassurance, as a way of self understanding. They see themselves as part of a certain group by buying a mens magazine. "Buying Loaded magazine might reinforce the buyers perception that he is one of the lads" Angela Bell These readers also consume the text for voyeurism, which is the practice of gaining pleasure from looking at other people whilst remaining anonymous. In relation to FHM, it is men deriving sexual pleasure from looking at a women. The layout of the front cover of FHM is very similar with each edition. The main image of the September 1999 edition is of Shania Twain, dressed to appeal to the heterosexual young male audience. The image covers part of the title, but as FHM is already so recognised, its audience will know its FHM from the visible part of the title. The main flash relates to the image, "World Exclusive - Shania Twain - Hark! It's the Planet's raunchiest Songbird!". The producers have used a celebrity to attract the audience, with "World Exclusive" implying that Shania Twain is exclusive to FHM. The colour of the title is the same as "Shania Twain" in the main flash, relating Shania Twain to FHM. The plugs on the front cover contradicts the view that the men represented are "Good in bed, happy in relationships, witty, considerate, skilled in all things" They, as David Gauntlett says, "... don't address a super-macho man who feels he can do everything. Instead, they are always giving advice on how men can live their lives, have fun, not upset women, be reasonably healthy, and be able to look after themselves". ...read more.

Conclusion

It can be further argued that men aren't changing their views because of these magazines, but the magazines are a result of changing attitudes within men. A long term effect theory is the Inoculation model. This theory suggests that prolonged exposure to repeated media messages and its ideology would make the audience immune to it, the audience would come to recognise it as normal. This can be applied to magazines, such as FHM, where the reader would come to believe that the ideology presented, about representations of gender, is the correct and accepted one. Those who take representations and comments about both men and women in these publications at face value will think it is normal behaviour and will adopt these views. CONCLUSION 'These lifestyle publications were perpetually concerned with how to treat women, have a good relationship, and live an enjoyable life.' David Gauntlett It is blatantly clear then stereotypical representations of both men and women appear in magazines for young men. Women are portrayed as objects for mens contemplation and enjoyment, whilst men are generally depicted with a 'laddish' masculinity, they are fearless, competitive, perhaps un-sensitive and un-emotional. But, as David Gauntlett argues, they address not the superman who thinks he can achieve whatever he wants, but rather these give advice on how to treat women properly, live a good life, advice on how to look good and have fun. The portrayal of masculinity in lads mags encourages its readers to be conscious of how they look i.e. focuses on articles on clothes. Because of mens magazines or 'lad's mags', then the dominant ideology presented will become stronger. Social learning theory accounts for how sex roles are appropriated and internalised; men and women imitate others of the same sex (which can be seen as role models) and are consequently rewarded by society for their sex-appropriate acts, thus encouraging them to repeat this behaviour. The men represented and the view of masculinity presented in magazines like FHM and Loaded give the reader a 'role model', which offer values or images to aspire to. ...read more.

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