In this paper, a discussion analytic perspective is used while analyzing relationship and sex advice in a women’s magazine which is the best selling one in the market. The magazine identifies three interpretative repertoires which are not alike and are used together to construct relationships of people being sexually active. These repertoires include transforming oneself which advises women on remodeling their interior lives in order to create a subjective which is desirable. It includes menology which instructs women on what they can do in order to please their men. Finally, it is the entrepreneurship repertoire which is intimate and talks about the organization of goals, plans, and the management of relationships. The last one preserves scientific nature.
This paper analyzes each repertoire separately and the ways how different repertoires work together to privilege heterosexuality and men. The discussion in this paper focuses on the advice of postfeminist nature in particular, whereby anti-feminists, feminist, and pre-feminist ideas are all entangled together in a way that makes the ideology of gender more difficult and precarious to contest. Mainly, women magazines are distinguished according to several features: territorial measures (regional, national, international), social classes (addressed to all women of one country; addressed to regional and ethnic communities of women; addressed to different age groups; addressed to mothers; addressed to a family), purpose (educational, informational, and cognitive; practical, entertaining, advertising). This magazine is produced on a monthly basis, and it is targeted at those women who are between the age of twenty and thirty nine. It dwells upon relationships and sex as the major topics along with other topics such as celebrity news, fashion, and beauty (Rosalind 4).
As seen from the proposed classification, typology of women's issues is rather essential which means a great demand and stable position in the media market. Today, among the total mass of magazines, 31% are female editions. They certainly cannot be compared with the press which was popular twenty years ago. Those works were gray and had a small amount of photo material. Unsurprisingly, there was barely any choice. Now, the choice is huge, plus, the quality is excellent. Such magazines draw the attention of readers as magnets. These are not just collections of recipes, advertising, interviews, and tips – this is a lifestyle, a special range of interests.
Over the few past decades, magazines that relate to women have received much attention in the market. Most of the researches done have been concerning women, and the researchers have found magazines to be a key source and site of ideas concerning culture relating to gender relations, men, and women. At times, magazines are charged because of promoting the “myth of beauty’ that damages the self-esteem of women, and, at times, they support practices that are harmful socially which range from cosmetic surgery to dieting (Rosalind 4).
What is the image of women on the pages of women’s magazines? There is a need to plunge into the “glossy world” of contemporary magazines. Namely, there are several most common types of women. This is a real woman and a business woman. As for the appointment of women, there is quite a clear separation. Two options appear to be the most common. It is either a happy wife or an emancipated woman-entrepreneur, but a loser in her personal life. A real woman has two goals which differ according to her status. If she is not married, her main purpose is to attract men. In order to achieve this, magazines densely provide advice that women should be especially beautiful. The most important thing is to be a woman. If a woman is married, the most essential thing for her is preservation and strengthening of her family. Women are the keepers of ancient traditions. Hence, in order to strengthen a family, a woman should be smooth and quiet, gentle and patient. In the pursuit of achieving these goals, women show unusual activity and determination. However, the efforts of women are aimed at introducing herself in the best way. Women are usually the victims in a conflict situation tending to compromise; overall, they are sensitive, family-oriented, and emotional. Typically, this image is encouraged by magazines, sometimes even attributed to the rank of an ideal. This is an image of a happy woman.
The typical images of happy wives are imprinted in the press. Firstly, it can be a wife-woman who can afford not only avoid working but abandon any housework as well. From a man she wants the ability to earn enough to sustain a family. Here, people face the traditional patriarchal picture: a man changes the world; he is the subject of any action of whom it is characteristic to instruct the fairer sex. A woman is limited and does not need to be a smart and creative person; it is enough to have good hair, good shape, and take care of her husband.
The second type is a housewife. For her, a family is the meaning of life. She fully devotes herself to the family. Thus, she is often not appreciated although she is always afraid to offend and tell the truth. However, she can watch TV series and admire her husband.
The third type is a wife who is a friend to her man. Apart from working, washing, cooking and cleaning, she always finds time to convince her man in his uniqueness once again, to fully appreciate his dignity, and encourage new achievements. A really smart woman is the one who does not show her bright mind.
The last type is a wife-victim. She is consciously hiding her talents from a man so that he could fully enjoy home comfort in a specially equipped family hearth. With this classification, it is clear that a fully happy woman (according to this typology) is the one who all her life is focused on her favorite husband. However, this statement contradicts the number of successful women executives, entrepreneurs, economists, scientists, etc. In fact, the above proposed position of women usually gets the status of secretly approved by the press.
The image of a business woman is usually the subject of discussion and condemnation. The duality of magazines’ attitudes towards women entering the world of business is also characteristic. On one hand, the exaggerated praise of a woman who was able to succeed can be clearly seen. A business woman should be mannish. On the other hand, a woman in business goes contrary to her “true purpose” losing her femininity as no jobs, no ranks, and positions can justify an abandoned apartment and the absence of dinner. A business woman appears unhappy in her family life: her children often lack maternal attention, plus, she is so loaded with work that there is an essential consequence in loss of femininity and even the loss of her husband.
Thus, magazines tend to have different broadcast of women’s image. It is assumed that these differences are caused by the specific audience and orientation of a magazine. It should be noted that the image of a man in women's magazines - images of a man for a woman – is a presentation of a man whom a woman wants to see next to her. Regardless of social status, aspirations, and beliefs, this image for women is always the same. This is a strong, active, and decisive ideal of a man for a woman.
Regarding the three repertoires, the first repertoire in the magazine deals with intimate entrepreneurship. In this repertoire, relationships are perceived as work which uses different analogies from marketing, management, finance science, and military campaigns. There is an assumption in many articles that there is always a perfect male match for every woman who is normally put down as “Mr Right” or “Mr Perfect” (Bartky 17). In this repertoire, fate is usually treated with contempt as something like a fairly tale which happens only in stories but can never happen when it comes to real life situations. It claims that for a relationship to succeed, partners should be prepared to put the effort that is required. Finding a partner, being able to maintain a good relationship, and making sure that sex in the relationship is satisfactory are usually depicted as the main goals. These goals require good research, planning, and setting up strategies (Gould 12).
This repertoire creates an idea of scientific management for women. It advises women to build checklists which are detailed on the things they require in a partner. These things should take every aspect from emotional and occupational to physical characteristics (Meyers 24). In this case, a relationship happens to be broken down into features that are quantifiable, and the absence or presence of which can be ticked if one encounters partners who have potential.
Finding and building a good relationship is considered as a professional quasi scientific affair described as a game of numbers or the one that follows the rules of glamor. Love is considered to be an outcome of meritocracy. This means that if one works very hard, they will definitely find it (Snitow 10). This repertoire emphasizes on a relationship working out on the basic of being well-organized. If a relationship is organized accordingly, it will work out, but if it is not well planned, it will most probably fail.
The second repertoire is menology which involves the way to understand, reassure, and please men. This title is intended to draw concentration to key features that are based on this repertoire: one of the emphases is based on learning and studying. This includes finding out about the curve of love learning and treating partners who are unsuitable as a personal development opportunity. Secondly, the pre-eminent issue of this repertoire focuses on educating women on how to make sure that they understand men, learning on how to make sure that they are pleased, and to ensure that they take the responsibilities to manage emotions in the relationship. In this repertoire, apart from itemizing the desires that women have and strategizing the ways to achieve them, they need to be instructed on how they can meet men, how to talk to them, and how they can form a successful relationship.
The discourse of experts plays a great role when it comes to this repertoire. At times, men themselves are the experts who are asked to advise the women on what is considered hot and the things considered being not hot. Most of the times, expertise is taught by authors of books that are self-helped, sex therapists, and counselors.
Glamor indicates women that they should pay attention to gazing, touching men, and making eye contacts since this may cause them to generate oxytocin which is a bonding and love hormone. In the repertoire, body language is considered to be crucial. Besides, studies conclude that when one laughs at someone, the chances of the person laughing back are high that increases the connection between both persons. Women should make sure that men want to meet them again. This repertoire emphasizes on quality more than on quantity in a relationship (Stombler 33).
The fourth repertoire is transforming the self which emphasizes on remarking sexual subjectivity. It places a lot of emphasis upon the construction of a persona that is lovable, learning on how to read, being able to master men, and being able to pay attention to their emotional and sexual needs. It focuses on how to transform oneself making over the psychic or interior life. What is mostly required here is remodeling one's self sense, especially sexual subjecthood. There are four themes that dominate this particular repertoire. They include the requirement to learn how to love your own body, how to become confident, how to be able to conquer repression, how to change the feeling one has regarding sex, and how to become an adventurer of sex.
In this repertoire, the writer mentions that loving one’s body is perceived as a factor that plays a great role for a woman who wants to be attractive in the eyes of a man. The crucial thing is not the way your body appears to be but the feeling that you have about your own body. Women are not supposed to worry about measuring up since the standards of men are lower than theirs. The writer indicates that it is very important for women to worry about the attitude they have towards their bodies since the more they moan about men, the more their libido is drained. The writer adds that a woman sounding desperate or needy turns off men. A woman loving her body is presented to be a psychological adjustment which is very necessary to please men. The way a woman feels about her body profoundly and directly affects her sexuality (Baggott 41).
A woman should be always confident in herself. Women are usually encouraged to change into being optimistic, secure, confident, and happy. Women are also encouraged to transform their feelings about sex. They should have a positive attitude towards sex. This will help to improve their sex life. They should also be adventurers in terms of sex. Women should encourage their men always to try new things in their bedroom. It is considered as being adventurous, and it will ensure that the sex life of both partners is enjoyable.
In this magazine, women are encouraged to monitor others and to ensure themselves that every aspect that relates to their conduct is regulated, to transform and always work on to guarantee that all their actions are presented as the outcome of intimacy offers of mediation and to ensure that their marriages are perfect. Women are encouraged to be confident with themselves and love their bodies the way they are created, and this will lead to men loving them too.