2011/01/07

Test your sexuality!

The Georgia Straight is the so-called alternative weekly newspaper in Vancouver. This week's edition came out yesterday. It's January, shortly after the holidays when so many of us indulge in many more calories than we normally do. Time to hit the gym! So it was not surprising to see a fitness babe on the cover.

The Straight has done this sort of thing before. I think this cover is a recurring theme. And I wondered (in my best Carrie Bradshaw voiceover): Why not a fitness hunk?

It didn't take long for me to figure that one out. If anyone saw a fitness hunk on the cover of the Straight, they'd think it was Xtra, the gay and lesbian weekly.

Weird, eh? A fitness babe showing some skin on the cover implies heterosexuality. She's there for the boys to want (you'll find her at the gym) and the girls to envy (you can be like her if you go to the gym). A fitness hunk showing some skin on the cover screams homosexuality. He's there for the boys to want (you'll find him at the guys-only gym), girls not invited (because you just know he's gay). The only way you could put a fitness hunk on the cover and not have it scream homosexuality would be to pair him with a fitness babe—which the Straight has also done. Then you'd be safely in heterosexual territory.

I suppose lesbians could also want the fitness babe, so the hetero cover would be for them. Which in itself is curious. A fitness hunk alone would be very specific to male homosexuality, whereas the fitness babe would cover all the rest—including those of us who are more generally sexual, no prefix required.

I'm not usually into deconstructing the implications behind media images, but this one caught my attention. It's kind of fun to find the hidden messages and the assumptions behind seemingly innocuous displays.

8 comments:

Anji said...

In France, Têtu, the magazine for Homosexuals has taken to featuring a woman on the cover, usually with more than one man. How does that fit into your theory.

And what about this one? http://art8amby.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/tetu-november-2010-catherine-deneuve.jpg

Véronique said...

It's France, Anji. All bets are off. :)

Anji said...

I think that you're right there.

MgS said...

Simply put, it's safe to sexualize a woman that way. Not only will it attract heterosexual male readers, women are so accustomed to seeing those images that we mostly shrug.

Do that with a male, and you are immediately "feminizing" them somewhat by making them an object. The implicit message of objectification? Desire, of course - and men generally fear the idea of being the object of another male's desire. (the exception being the gay male culture, where objectification of males seems to be as big as objectification of females is among heterosexuals)

... but a fun observation, nonetheless!

@Anji: When you manage to plumb the depths of gallic logic and solve that conundrum, I'd love to hear what you find!

Medifast Coupons said...

Okay something I have never really thought about and I have that magazine sitting right here. Now you have made me really think of the implications of others sitting alongside this one, mmmmmm?

Aerin said...

I understand that questioning our underlying values and assumptions is important, honestly...
But sometimes I think, "If I want to know which magazine it is, can't I just look at the masthead?"
I'm a girl, I'm heterosexual and I'm a bit tired of extreme feminists telling me that I can't appreciate a good looking woman without either a) I've been brain-washed into comparing myself (negatively probably) with her and/or b) getting yelled at for not being upset that she's being objectified.

Not that I'm saying anyone here is doing the above - the whole thing just triggered a rant on my part.

Why can't a pretty girl just be a pretty girl?

Véronique said...

@Aerin: You're allowed to rant. But I'm pretty sure the Straight makes its choices purposefully. It's a pattern.

Of course, if you want her just to be a pretty girl, nothing stopping you. I just felt like digging.

Holly R. said...

Great post! So fascinating. And I loved the Carrie Bradshaw voiceover!