Apr 142003
Authors: Shannon Baldwin

I subscribe to Stuff Magazine.

Or rather, it’s delivered to my house every so often and is addressed to me. I don’t actually remember ever signing up for a subscription, and so help my Irish temper if I ever see a charge for it on my credit card. I am hoping that it is just one of those promotional thingies where they send me a few free copies to entice me into signing up. My subscriptions to Newsweek and National Geographic Traveler must make me the perfect candidate for a Maxim-type, T&A, male-oriented flesh-zine. Who could possibly think otherwise?

The first time it arrived a few months ago, I couldn’t resist thumbing through it -and found myself pleasantly surprised. The only expectations I had for the content was of the cheap, sleazy, female-objectifying kind. What I found was page after page of witty, sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek and often totally tasteless captions, articles, features, letters and stories that amounted to a very funny read. This magazine is not afraid to make a joke out of men’s magazines, and really, gender-oriented magazines in general. And they do it very well. Oh yeah, and there are a lot of scantily clad women in suggestive poses throughout the magazine, too.

As each new issue of Stuff arrived at my house, I would thumb through it for insightful articles about ugly rock stars and how many people Liam Neeson has sort of slept with. (Dennis Rodman, Al Pacino and Woody Harrelson for those of you who are curious). As I tried to keep the milk from coming out my nose through my laughter, I had to wonder why guys get cool magazines like Stuff and women get, well, Cosmo.

Ahhh, Cosmopolitan. The ultimate “girl” magazine. The kind of magazine that informs women with such stimulating features such as “Sexy bed games”, “What guys really think the first time you get it on” and “Is he worthy of a second date”. The magazine that is all about such women-empowering topics like swimsuit fashion, make-up tips that are too hot to ignore (get lips no man can resist!), and relationships, relationships, relationships. Once in a while there may even be an article about how to avoid being raped and something useful like that, but I wouldn’t get too excited.

Cosmo is the kind of magazine that would tell me to dump my boyfriend the second I found him reading a magazine like Stuff. Maybe because Stuff has semi-clad women throughout the magazine. Uh, well actually, so does Cosmo, but maybe I just got lucky with their Bikini Bonus issue. And actually, Cosmo is the magazine of the two that features not just one, but two full-page ads (and a few smaller ads) with a completely nude woman. (Stuff, for the record, actually has an ad featuring a nude male.)

OK, so both present their fair share of skin. So I guess the big deal with Stuff is the blatant portrayal of women in such a sexual light. After all the trouble we go through to drive him wild with that new outfit that Cosmo advertised, how dare we be portrayed as sexual! Besides that, Cosmo is just as bad about objectifying the opposite sex. Cosmo has a whole section labeled “Man Manual” featuring bare-chested men gazing seductively into the camera. This issue had a special twin section, because “We at Cosmo know there’s only one thing better than a hot, sexy guy…two of them!” (And women give guys flack about the Coors Light Twins).

Bottom line is, both magazines are nothing but brain candy, and both are full of a bunch of crap. But at least Stuff doesn’t take itself seriously, and can even laugh at itself. If I had to choose between the two, Stuff would win over Cosmo hands down!

But then, I just read it for the articles.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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