Cosmopolitan vs. Redbook: A Women’s Dilemma

Placed side by side, there’s no question that Cosmopolitan’s young and modern style outshines Redbook’s safe and boring appearance. But don’t let the covers fool you. Cosmopolitan can learn a thing or two from Redbook’s unconventional perspective on women.
Sex is where the contrast starts. Redbook encourages females to take charge of their sex life and make it into what they desire. Cosmopolitan treats the woman as an instrument for giving the man what he physically wants and expects.

Redbook’s coverline in the August issue reads: “Make your man a better lover, coach him to greatness.” Redbook places the female reader in control of her happiness in the bedroom. She doesn’t lower her standards and will not accept anything less of her boyfriend and lover. If necessary, she will coach him on ways to improve his sexual performance so that she feels fully satisfied. The guy’s pleasure comes second to her satisfaction.

It comes as no surprise that the “Guys Voted: The Sex Position They Lust For” involves the woman being pushed up against a wall. The female is expected to conform to this position because men have decided it to be their favorite. Forget about it being uncomfortable. It’s all about what the woman can do to satisfy the man.

Redbook gives relationship advice in forms of lessons that both partners can learn from and work on. Cosmopolitan asserts men’s expectations of a relationship and what women need to do to live up to them.

Inside Redbook, under the headline “Your Love Life: Who knew? Love lessons you’d never expect” lie a set of relationship values. On the list: “focus on what you love about each other” and “redefine romance.” The article discusses the dynamics of successful marriages and how couples can apply these to their relationship to make it last. “Your Love Life” suggests not only that the female reader is in control of her relationship, but that she plays an important role in its success.

Plastered across Cosmopolitan’s cover in big, bold letters is “His Girlfriend Wish List.” Stuffed inside the magazine is a bulky list of expectations that a girlfriend needs to live up to if she hopes to become his “serious girlfriend”. One reads: “She takes care of me but doesn’t try to be my mom” another is “She Needs Me, but She’s Not Too Needy.” Basically, he wants her to possess a certain quality, but not too much or too little because that might scare him away. A woman had better live up to these if she wants to stand a chance at earning the girlfriend status. None of the subheadings indicate that a relationship is a combination of give and take, not just from the woman, but the man too. Give and give, but only give what the man wants.

Redbook is like the feminist who trudges against the conventional current. Cosmopolitan is the cavewoman waiting for her husband to come home.

Perhaps magazines should come with a warning label: “Readers beware. Buying a magazine based on its reputation does not guarantee contents that will live up to it.”

— Martina Uhlirova




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