Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stumble Upon This

So I’m now a member of StumbleUpon.  It’s an internet sort of search mechanism that suggests sites I might never find no matter how much time I spend hunched over the keyboard squinting at the screen.  I can’t think what interest I professed that led me to stumbling upon Men’s Health Magazine.  But after a quick perusal of its cover, I felt compelled to compare it with those of Women’s Health Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Ms., and AARP.  Get ready. 

Guess who put a teaser called, “When Flirting Goes Too Far” on the cover of their magazine?  If you had to choose among those publications just mentioned, wouldn’t you peg that topic to be in the women’s magazines?  I would have, meaning I suppose that I’m still narrow-minded and sexist in spite of my overt claims of feminism.   

When did a man (my husband excepted, of course) ever care if flirting went too far?  But even in our new world where men do worry about the consequences of an indiscretion, I would have been less surprised to see it on Men’s Health than I was to find it on AARP.  Yup.  There it is in boldface type.  The senior set is concerned with flirting games. 

Natural curiosity leads a person into the depths of AARP’s webpages in search of what, in fact, can go wrong when flirting does go too far, since it’s been such a long time since a person allowed herself to flirt.  One has to navigate past image after image of older folks who could be the target of an ill-placed flirt.  Folks like Jim Carrey, Meg Ryan, and Heather Locklear.  All now 50 and beyond.   

What could possibly go wrong in a flirtation with one of those senior citizens?  OK, Sharon Stone.  She does seem dangerous somehow.  Best not flirt with her, Dad.  It could go too far.  You could find yourself… entangled.  

Even now, you might expect a headline like “Sex Survey Exclusive!” to adorn the cover of Cosmopolitan, right?  Helen Gurley Brown never did have any compunction.  Yet there it is on Men’s Health!  It looks like the men actually surveyed 1900 women, and have learned how to “find her ‘on’ button.”  Yikes.   

AARP boasts some hard-hitting sort of must-know stories.  In its section on Relationships, for example, one can get advice for when “Sleep Apnea Ruins Your Sex Life” or “ When Mom has a New Boyfriend.”  Ewww.  

Men’s Health touts articles formerly the sole purview of the “ladies’” periodicals – subjects like  “Power Diet,” and “Lean Belly Prescription,” even “No Sweat Cardio.”  And “Back Pain Primer?”  Nope.  Not AARP.  Nowadays even men in the 18 to 35 demographic admit to being vulnerable and frail.  

Conversely, back in the day when you saw a headline like “Sculpt Flat Abs!” or “Love v. Lust,” you’d ascribe them to a men’s magazine, wouldn’t you?  Wouldn’t you??  Not anymore!  Look to Women’s Health for those must-reads. 

Notably, in my tiny sampling and unscientific review, no mention of money on the covers of Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, or even Ms. (though Ms. has every other serious issue up front).  AARP and Men’s Health, both mention it.  The most banal foray into finances might be “Your Money Plan:  How to make it.  Where to spend it.”  At work and on the mortgage come to mind.  But I confess, I didn’t read the breaking news. 

OK.  I know.  I’m reverting.  I’m revealing.  TMI.  It just seems the blurring of the lines between young and old, male and female territories produces oddities.  I know that’s good.  It’s what we wanted, right?  We didn’t want the stereotypes in any camp.  Still it seems kind of funny.  To me anyway.  Just showing how deeply the gender roles are ingrained, I suppose. 

Part of it could be the idea that no matter how evolved the men are, the “Secrets of Strength and Calm” offered in the men’s magazine really do remain with the women.  It’s our cosmic destiny.  We provide the ohm in our relationships and to the world.  It’s the natural order.  Men are strangers in that celestial land of serenity.  If we women offer it up without a mystery attached, what’s left to surrender? 

Up next, StumbleUpon’s latest suggestion for my exploration: “Miley Cyrus Inadvertently Slights Jesus on Twitter.”  Now that goes too far!