Hot boys and recycling gender stereotypes

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Hot boys and recycling gender stereotypes

Girlfriend’s November issue is about boys. Sort of. It’s more about ‘hot’ celeb boys and recycling gender stereotypes.

What do girl readers learn about the opposite sex?

That they are, disgusting, fart, pee standing up and aren’t just “good for pashing”, they can also be “quite useful” (“they can fix all the things you accidently break”).   And here’s a large illustration of their penises with everything explained in ‘The dangly bits’. You’ll find it just a few pages on from ‘A blush-free guide to your first kiss’ and preparing for your first date.

Further helping girl readers understand boys is ‘The most cringe-worthy moments of our fave celeb guys’, ‘Guest guy eds spill on their ultimate man crushes’ and  ‘Fictional boyfriends we wish were real’. That should do the trick.

In a piece re-enforcing gender stereotypes, GF gets boys to ’fess up about their girlie little secrets’  (accompanied by a pic of a boy blow drying his hair). Some moisturise (OMG!),  one likes chick flicks, one googles pictures of cute baby animals to de-stress, one likes having his hair cut and one even spends “my whole weekend in the kitchen baking cakes and cupcakes”. Why do any of these things have to be labelled ‘girlie’? What’s’girlie’ about a boy in the kitchen? (Hasn’t GF heard of Jamie Oliver?) Actually what’s ‘girlie’ about anyone in the kitchen?

GF is offering readers the chance to “WIN the Bieber Girlfriend Experience.”  In 25 words or less– we wouldn’t want girls to have to exert themselves  – you have to explain ‘Why should YOU be Justin Bieber’s girlfriend?’ No matter that he doesn’t know you (or you him), you are to make the case for Bieber girlfriend status. I wonder what his actual girlfriend Selena Gomez thinks of the competition? And maybe someone forgot to ask Justin, given he later describes how special his first kiss was with her.

While pitched as “WIN the Bieber Girlfriend Experience’, it actually has nothing to do with Bieber himself. The closest you’ll get to him is his Girlfriend fragrance and body lotion! And the Girlfriend experience? Well that’s about a trip to the magazine’s HQ in Sydney. I hope no one is disappointed.

A little more sensible is a piece on how to be friends with boys and boy myths and truths. Yes, believe it or not, boys cry and get hurt. But this whole boy issue feels hastily thrown together and token really.

I find slogans like this really troubling: “Happiness is a decision, so make it.” Is it really as easy for that? What if you are suffering depression and anxiety – did you make a decision to be unhappy? In ‘How to win at life’, about training your mind to reach its goals, readers are told emotions are “nothing but physiological storms in your brain – you need to channel them into working the right way for you.” I’ve expressed concern when the focus is all on the girl having to control how she feels, even in dire circumstances. Many girls can’t get emotional control and need significant help to come through mental difficulties. Telling them they can be happy by deciding to be casts them adrift as autonomous beings living independently of (harmful) cultural influences.

‘Trolling in the Deep’ looks at the life of an internet troll. Brett Murray, author of Make Bullying History, says a troll is someone “who spends most of their time online looking to stir trouble and get reactions from people…They are people who never have the courage to share their opinion in real life….As they attack victims…and they respond, the troll feels they have become the centre of attention and have their twisted emotional need met.”

Young women harmed by trolls are quoted and two who engage in trolling say “it’s just joking” and “It’s meant to be a fun thing”. GF says “the reality is, their targets can often feel incredibly distressed”. Yes, that’s because it’s not joking or fun. There’s a helpful list of things to do if you are being trolled (don’t respond, take screenshots, block and report, tell a trusted adult, call police if it becomes threatening, support friends who are being trolled, visit cybersmart.gov.au to help stay safe online).

‘Rape is rape’ is a timely piece on the reality of rape, definitions, and personal experiences. Executive Officer of the NSW Rape Crisis Centre, Karen Willis, explains that sexual assault is “any unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature by one or a group against another without their consent. This includes penetration [of any kind]…and grabbing, touching, and involvement in pornography”. Consent is explained as something that must be given freely and voluntarily by a person who has the capacity to consent. The absence of “no” does not equal consent. “Consent gained through lies, manipulation, violence, or any other means that undermine a person’s free will is not consent.” You are incapable of giving consent if you are asleep, unconscious, or have taken drugs or are drunk. I’m glad this is mentioned because a number of girls have written to me about sexual acts done to them while drunk and saying “I was drunk so I must have consented”. There is so much misunderstanding on this and I’m glad GF has addressed it.

I thought this issue deserved more than a page. Boys ‘bits’ gets three pages including 80 (yes 80) slang terms for penis, many straight out of porn.

Myths like victims are ‘asking for it’ and that sex offenders are random strangers are debunked.  70% of sexual assaults are committed by a family member, friend, work colleague or fellow student, with the remainder someone the victim knows socially. One percent of perpetrators are strangers.

Real life stories include Nadia, 14, who had cosmetic surgery to correct big ears. I have no idea why GF chose to include a photo of her as a baby showing how her ears stuck out, with a ‘Self respect reality check’ logo and ‘This image has not been retouched’. Why would anyone think it had been? Chloe 19, writes about how bullying made her physically sick and led to her being diagnosed with conversion disorder caused by a traumatic event – leading to paralysis. She is a founder of anti-bullying charity Angels Goal (angelsgoal.org.au).

‘Is soft drink really bad for you?’ includes the views of Trish Barbara, natural life style advocate who attributes a breakdown in her immune system in part to being addicted to soft drinks. Her symptoms improved when she stopped consuming them. The basic cola recipe has six ingredients – including three used to process cigarettes, one in medication and one used in nail polish.  Barbara attributes a  raft of illnesses to artificial sweeteners used in soft drink. A dietician plays it a bit both ways, a doctor is critical – though you can drink the occasional glass, he says. And the CEO of the Australian Beverages Council ?  Well I think you can guess where he’s coming from.

Girls are asked to give their views on who should do the housework. Allie says “I do not feel equal to men in my home, but I think girls have to do all of the chores because boys have to work all day while the women clean and look after their children. I believe women should be responsible for domestic work. Yikes. Don’t tell her about that boy who likes baking.

By | 2012-12-17T20:14:02+00:00 November 26th, 2012|Categories: Society & Culture, Technology|Tags: , , , , , , |1 Comment

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  1. Hazel November 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    I had no idea until I read your article how pernicious this magazine Girlfriend is (and i amagine there are others?)!
    In particular, to isolate and analyse the male testicles remote from their owner is obscene in this context because it appears alongside articles which are, in the main flippant and inane and serves to reduce the male body to nothing more than flesh.
    This is a valid subject for young girls to consider but not in this format.
    I am grateful that my daughter does not buy or have access to this harmful trash.

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