Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Guillty Pleasures

We all have them--guilty pleasures. You know, the things you are embarrassed about liking. If you're a vegetarian, it'd be the occasional prime rib. If you're a feminist (like me) then you are embarrassed about receiving monthly issues of Glamour. Yes, I subscribe to Glamour. Now, here come all the caveats:

1) It's free. It was one of several options* I had in order to redeem miles that were about to expire through Northwest airlines (or Delta or American...I honestly can't remember now). [*It should be noted here that I did have options and so yes, this is why Glamour is a guilty pleasure--I chose it. I grew up reading discarded copies from my aunt, and of all the fluffy, women-focused magazines out there, it's the one I return to for my "fix" so to speak]

2) It's not that bad, in terms of negative body issues. I mean, yes, I just found an ad today about breast implants (YUCK!) and yes, there are plenty of skinny celebrities and a concentration on fashion and makeup that negatively contributes to skewed body images and consumerism. But, there are also some more intriguing things, like an attempt at feminism and global awareness by showing everyday women who are making a difference here and around the world--women who fight hunger in Columbia and female-genital circumcision and Mormon polygamy. And women who are educating others and being activists and who are trying to make the world a better place.

Now. All that being said, one of the things I find troubling about Glamour is the way in which it simultaneously tries to encourage racial diversity and sexuality while reinscribing both a racial and hetero normativity (yep, big words for a blog but what do you expect from an English professor?).

Case in point: the new Jake. "Jake" is a column written by a single guy who is supposed to give "the guy's point of view" for women--to chart his dating and relationship life, and when he finally does settle down, he passes the mantle onto the next "Jake." It's a column that has been running for the last 40 years, but for the first time, Glamour has allowed its readers to select the new "Jake," from 3 different candidates, which also means that for the first time, "Jake" will not be anonymous.

All 3 candidates were single white men. And the one who "won"--whom women voted for, was the most "guy" like or perhaps "dude" like of the 3. And I thought, what if the new Jake were black? Or self-identified as mixed race? Or identified as bi-sexual? Wouldn't that be amazing to push the boundaries of what we consider to be acceptable along a dating spectrum and a hierarchy of desirability? What if the new Jake were an Asian American man? Guess I'll just have to keep wishing and waiting.

No comments: