America’s Next Bill Clinton!

Feminist dilemma and MAXIM-like magazines.
January 11, 2008, 2:34 pm
Filed under: Feminism, feminist, journalism, men's magazine, objectification, rape, third-wave feminism
I have a dilemma about feminism and the job I just got last night – and sleeping on it didn’t help any.

First of all – let’s get the first thing out of the way: I am the shit. I get out of the military in three months, and people have been scaring me left and right, telling me there are no job opportunities.

Last night, I went to a job interview with a magazine (name withheld) and about an hour into it (it was mostly of me asking THEM questions and talking about my visions), the interviewer and I went outside for a smoke break and the next thing I knew I was sitting in their editorial meetings. The job is now mine.

It pays well, and I can sustain myself, but here lies the problem: it’s a men’s magazine. Imagine it to be sort of like MAXIM or one of the other men’s magazines.

The whole staff is consisted of men, with the exception of one women; looking at their planning/dummy sheets, I became concerned because the content seems a bit objectifying of women’s bodies. That, coupled with the fact that there are articles that seem a bit patriarchal, I kind of cringed.

The lone woman on the staff, sensing my discomfort, told me that it’s okay for me to work such a job being a feminist (she found out I am a women’s studies major through introductions) and at the same time work for a men’s magazine, just as she does …

But I am still uncomfortable with the idea of making money off women’s bodies – no matter how willing these women are willing to pose for this magazine. Wouldn’t I be contributing to the objectification of women by doing this? Does it go hand-on-hand with my feminist values?

But the person who hired me has given me free range to do whatever I want – he said he isn’t attached to the content, but rather, the money made from the magazine. This gives me an opportunity to bring in feminist thoughts and philosophies to the magazine. For this month, I am doing a few article, one focusing on STDs and safer sex practices. The other on the dilemma of it being two in the morning, and the girl is drunk – but you and her have been talking, and you want to take her home, and whether it’d be the right thing to do. There are more articles I am working on, but the fact is I can sneak my feminist views into these articles.

Because of that, I feel I am justified with this job. But I am still not happy with it.

I know I am the shit and I can walk into any newspaper or magazine, just throw down my resume, talk for a few minutes, and get a job …and I don’t NEED this job, but I feel as though I can contribute to turning this magazine into a better one instead of one like MAXIM, which is clearly misogynistic.



33 Comments so far
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I see your point about “changing things from the inside” but can’t help but wonder… with how strongly you seem to feel about feminism and women’s rights, and how you say you could get a job in any magazine, why you want to work for one that’s clearly about men ogling at women’s bodies rather than a feminist publication, or at least one that’s more intellectually-oriented.

Comment by Marcy

Exactly my point, Marcy – but there seems to be a part of me that’s drawn to this magazine – perhaps because making it a better one and pulling in more readers is a challenge – or perhaps it’s just the fact that, and this is so primative, it provides me the ability to get access to clubs and bars, and the insides with owners and the party life …I am not sure.

I would venture to say this magazine serves as a challenge for me …sort of like a coach coming to a bad team to bring it a championship.

Comment by ProFeministMale

Why don’t you kick yourself in the chest or smash a beer bottle over your head as you are constantly making reference to doing to others who objectify women in the most trivial of ways ?

Comment by Mrs Potatohead

Why don’t you actually point out what I am doing wrong instead of making a smart-ass comment? Rather than making personal attacks, say something that I can base my decision on …

Comment by ProFeministMale

I think Mrs Potatohead has an interesting point, despite the tone. If you hate misogynists so much, why aren’t you more critical of yourself?

I think the answer to your “dilemma” is quite obvious, but you’ve already said that you’re attracted to this job because of the glittering, sparkling possibilities of getting into clubs and bars and partying (what is so attractive about this anyway? Could it be the possibility of having even more “tasty” women to hit on with your “I’m a feminist, trust me” schpiel? *vomit*). This sounds like a case of fucked up priorities to me.

Comment by L

L –

Ouch! Thanks! The truth does hurt, but sometimes I need a dose of reality to see where I am going wrong. Fact of the matter is that if I am critical of pornography, I ought to be at the same time, be critical of magazine industries that are contributing to the pornofication of women – this magazine is such. I’ll be informing them that I quit (after one day) and also give the reason for it …

Altough it does bring up an interesting point: all the people I’ve spoken to, who are third-wave liberal feminists, have seen nothing wrong with the decision. Radical feminists I’ve spoken to, have obviously given a different answer. As a third-waver, I am standing on the side of radical feminists on this one.

Though my question is, since you touched on it in your blog – where do you see the split and difference in culture when it comes to sex-positive practices within the movement?

Comment by ProFeministMale

You have so many questions, Marc. Seriously, read. Read read read read read. Because I am not the only radical feminist on the ‘nets and I’m definitely not the most eloquent or prolific. Spend some more time on IBTP or any of the countless other radfem blogs in the world (this might require you to click away from Feministing once in a while) and see if you can answer your own questions instead of posing them here so that I can do all of your intellectual work for you. I also dislike putting answers out here for you to critique as if I’m the only one with these ideas. The truth is, I’m one of the last radfems who still has enough patience to engage with you without completely losing it. If you’re asking questions and someone’s answering, you need to listen to those answers and respond in good faith, not question because you’re blind to your own ignorance and privilege. (In other words, quit playing devil’s advocate with me and the other women who talk to you on this blog. It’s bullshit and you need to quit.)

As a short answer to your question: I think that there’s nothing inherently wrong with or oppressive about sex and porn, but sex and porn (and the people who do/make them) are so deeply influenced by patriarchal, oppressive constructs that, at this time and for the foreseeable future, there’s no escaping the dominance/submission that patriarchy demands of people.

Comment by L


If I had to label my feminism (which only seems to be of concern to others) then I would say I am a third wave feminist – I have some reservations with radical feminism, however they do brilliant work which should be engaged with.

Third wave feminism does not object to images of bodies and sex, *however*, and this is a big and significant *however*, men’s mags do not offer us “nakedness” they offer us reinforcement of women as attractive on the condition they are thin, toned, “pretty”, compliant, coy or saucy depending on the “look” we’re going for, they offer us stories on how to “pick up” which focus on lines and strategies rather than *get a fucking clue and treat women as people rather than pussy on legs*, the offer us all kinds of deeply upsetting articles.

There is a big difference between sex positive feminism and blanket acceptance of mens mags and the porn industry. I’m curious that you assert that none of the third wave feminists you know saw a problem with your choice…this concerns me that perhaps you know or asked a select *group* of third wave feminists, perhaps even women who identify as feminists but still want/need your approval “Excuse me, but is my feminism making my butt look too big??” etc. So basically, I’m glad to hear you aren’t taking the job, not so much cos I know anything about you – it’s just I cannot see how you could reconcile your feminism with the job – and what was the position? CEO? Otherwise how on earth did you think you were gonna make the reforms you were talking about?

I do agree with L that you need to read more. Third wave feminists do not see nakedness or even the depiction of it as a problem, but that doesn’t mean that these sorts of mags are not exploitative, and continuing to perpetuate damaging stereotypes (sex positive feminism is about *everyone* enjoying sex, even the so called *ugly chicks* who would never make it into this mag – sex positive is about better attitudes to sex so people enjoy it more, not wanking to Maxim or Zoo is feminism) even if women are *happy* to pose – see discussions on my site and elsewhere of the phenomena of women being screamed at to flash men at sporting events and some women obliging saying they are happy to…this is not without problem, not something we can say “Oh, some people are happy with it, so I can now feel better buying/having a wank to/working for this mag”

Also – are you really that much *the shit* – what convinces you so? Could you *really* walk into any publication, slap your resume down and get a job? Could a woman with the equivalent education and equivalent writing skills?

Comment by fuckpoliteness

Wow. Which “third wavers” (I hate this term), exactly, have told you they see nothing that’s at least troubling about your decision? Bloggers, commenters, personal friends? I am just curious. And I would like to add that I find it pitiful how you’ve been going back and forth, comparing and contrasting “sex pos” vs. “radical” feminists, trying to decide which viewpoint will allow you to have the most fun and the least guilt. We do not need you to create more rifts between the two factions.

There really is no escaping the dominance/submission paradigm. I can’t stomach the “feminism” that says “Welllll, we’ll let women vote and wear pants, but we’re not giving up objectification.”

Work for a tasteful publication (probably underground) that celebrates the human body in all it’s many colors, shapes and sizes and doesn’t rely on Othering to turn it’s readership on.

Comment by SarahMC

PFM: A lot of your writing comes off as an announcement to feminists what you think we want to hear.

While I think it’s great that you are willing to grow and learn, it’s very off-putting that you seem to want congratulations for doing things that you *should* be doing anyway or things that are way off the mark (the things you think we want to hear).

It’s like a white guy with an anti-racist blog who’s always telling racial minorities what wonderful things he did for them that day.
It’s difficult because yeah, we want men to be our allies but we don’t want knights in shining armour.

And the more I think about your anti-radical feminism rants the more nauseated I become.

Question: Did you tell the interviewer at this magazine that you intended to color your writing with feminism (not necessarily in those words)?

Comment by SarahMC

Sarah – I wouldn’t say that I am saying things to make feminists happy – because honestly, I really don’t give a damn about what some of these so-called “feminists” on my blog think – as evident by my responses to them …

Fact of the matter is that whether these people like it or not, there are things I believe in, and I’ll continue doing because of it. As I’ve said, I am not here to coddle people or make them happy, but rather, do what needs to be done. If certain sects of feminists are offended by it, they most certainly can go fuck themselves.

Oh, and wait – let’s be consistent here …first I am charged with saying and announcing things to make people happy, and then at the same time, I am told that my rant about radical feminism makes you sick? Which is it …should I be making everyone happy, or should I be standing up for what I believe in?

Lastly – yes, the guy who hired me did get the impression I am taking the magazine in a different direction. Again, he’d said that he is interested in making money, and not emotionally attached to the magazine …so either way, so long as people pick up the magazine, it’s all good.

Comment by profeministmale

L –

Let me be the first to say, as everyone who reads your blog seems to worship you – stop being condescending …

When I am asking you a question, I mean for it to start a discussion, not as a “Oooh, mommy, mommy, tell me about so and so …”

Secondly, I don’t need you to tell me to read – I think I invest enough time reading both in and out of the classroom(and I don’t appreciate snide remarks about feministing, either).

As for your answer to my question, L – what did it have to do with my question? You just made a no-shit statement that most of feminist readers would agree with …whereas the question was about the breakdown in culture in between third wave liberal, and second wave radical feminists …

But I am kind of done here. Good luck to you. I’ve got to prepare for school.

Comment by profeministmale

Your version of “discussion”, Marc, is “Okay, I’ll write a question without really thinking about my wording, you answer the random question I pluck from my ass, I’ll pretend like I’ve read your answer, and then respond with a devil’s advocate approach and possibly another stupid question that I could do just a tiny bit of research to find an answer to.” Excuse me if I’m not too keen on “discussing” feminism with you at this point.

Yeah, I crapped on Feministing. Boo hoo. I don’t appreciate your CONSTANT snide remarks about radical feminists. Goddamn are you a fucking hypocrite. Why the fuck do you think I’ve been responding to you with so much anger? Are you completely incapable of making connections between what you do/write/say and its impact on the people you say it to and about?

And if I don’t answer a question to your liking, maybe there’s a problem on your end, with, say, the way you wrote the words. It’s at least worth considering. As for what you apparently wanted an answer to, I think one reason there’s such a rift between sex-pos feminists and radfems is basically a subset of the view on sex/porn. Or, for reference, you could think about why you and I don’t get along and maybe you’ll get an answer more to your liking.

Sorry I even got started reading your blog. I hoped you’d be worth talking to. But this has been a way bigger hassle than I ever imagined, and I am also done. Good luck to you also.

Comment by L

I am a huge fan of Feministing, and I’m also a big fan of a lot of more radical feminist blogs.

I don’t see how Feministing is “Woohoo sex-pos!” A lot of the posts question that attitude. A lot of them come from a radical POV.

I am still confused about where the radical hate is coming from.

Comment by SarahMC

There’s nothing atall wrong with helping these Women to exercise personal autonomy. I know it’s tough and
some feminists struggle to respect and/or trust the basic right for Females to choose to enjoy and express there outward beauty but it’s really a very old fashioned perspective, rooted more in the Victorian era than the 70s.

Comment by Jolene

Hi Jolene…
You have a few interesting assumptions there.
A/ that anyone who objects to Maxim’s objectification of women and their presentation of a homogenous view of beauty by definition don’t choose to *enjoy and express* there [sic] outward beauty.
B/ that posing for a men’s mag is about enjoying and expressing outward beauty and not at all about needing men’s approval of your outward beauty in a world that sets men up as the arbiter on beauty, and not about proving your *worth* in this society
C/ that posing for Maxim is apolitical, is solely about that individual woman’s autonomy, which over-rides the rights of other women (who continue to be affected by these mags perpetuation of the male assesment of women’s beauty such that there are lists to categorise women in terms of attractiveness, and concurrently *unattractiveness*, as seen recently with Sarah Jessica Parker coming in top)to not be subject to the sorts of assesments and the mentality that these sorts of mags provoke. I draw an analogy to the sporting events where men are screaming at women to flash them – some women choose to oblige and do not mind, but it means that all other women continue to be subject to the same sorts of attitudes. Perhaps the feminists who object understand that the woman has a right to enjoy her posing for a men’s mag, but that the magazine, and posing for it, are actually political.

I have *no problem* with images of the naked body. What I do have an issue with is the attitude behind men’s mags, that some thug gets to critique and rate women, is encouraged to, needs a magazine to help him “rank” women according to their beauty and therefore their *value* to him, though no doubt it’s assumed that the more *good looking* he finds her, the *dumber* she is.

Comment by fuckpoliteness

Oh, Marc, you make me tired. I may be a radical feminist (which I only just learned-someone was trying to insult me), but I also shave my legs and wear heels sometimes, so I might also be one of those women you’re always trying to pick up (but not objectify! oh, no, not I!)…and if you pulled that “I’m a feminist; sleep with me” shit with me, my eyes would roll out of my head.

Feminists don’t “worship” each other. The cool thing about feminism is that you don’t have to agree about every single little thing — and because we recognize that people (yes, people, even womenz) have their own minds and therefore their own opinions, we’re generally ok with it. L — for the most part — tells it like it is. That’s why people (say, myself) respond positively to her blog.

People respond negatively to yours because it’s really no different than a teenage boy’s going on and on about all the hot girls he’d like to bang, except that you call yourself a feminist, so your misognystic word vomit is supposed to be ok. Well, it’s not. And neither is working for a magazine that treats women as objects.

Comment by zombie z

Zombie, so I am just going to ignore you. I’ll let your comments and the way you jump to conclusion speak for themselves. I am way too busy to delete your comments. So do whatever pleases you while I am actually going to there, making a difference.

Comment by profeministmale

You ask for “thoughts” and then you ignore them… *shrug* I’ll let that speak for itself.

Comment by zombie z

++editing your comments so you sound like less of an asswipe…Very nice. 🙂

Comment by zombie z

PFM! Check yourself! That you are always tooting your own horn and patting yourself on the back for being such a wonderful woman-supporter is grating.
Nobody has said anything cruel to you. We are all feminists. Telling us how stupid we are is counter-productive. The most important male allies can do is LISTEN to women; that is not what you’re doing. The only time you welcome critical comments is when they’re sugary-sweet and meek. If you are not willing to examine the ways YOU’VE been affected by patriarchy, are you really a feminist at all?

Comment by SarahMC

Lordy. OK. I wanted to comment here, then I decided it wasn’t worth it, but now I figure I might as well. Marc, I am male. I have been a pro-feminst, or a feminist ally, or a male feminist, or whatever the hell label works for you (it’s a semantic minefield I’d rather not walk into) for the best part of a year now. I have spent that time interacting with feminists, some of whom are even OMG RADICAL. Here is what I will say to you, take it or leave it. On the basis of your prior behaviour, I fully expect it will be the latter, but feel free to surprise me.

Feminists are *fundamentally* disagreeing with you. This isn’t down to a philosophical difference between your feminism and radical / liberal / sex-positive / socialist / second-wave / third-wave feminism, it’s the simple fact that you’re being goddamn obnoxious. It’s possible to have an honest, respectful disagreement with other feminists; I do it quite frequently and nobody’s ever gotten angry at me for it because I read what they’ve said, think my response through carefully and am willing to take on criticism myself. As L said, the problem is at your end. Any feminist still engaging with you by this point must have the patience of an absolute saint, and your constant dismissal of them is the embodiment of male privilege. If you want to use feminism to change the world, then for God’s sake, start with yourself.

Actions speak louder than words. You can, and do, trumpet the fact you’re a feminist, but then decide you need “days off”, get a job writing for a lad mag and generally behave like an alpha male jackass. This is standard patriarchal behaviour that you’ve been conditioned into, and by no means does it make you a bad person inherently. This is why feminists are still talking to you, because they think there’s a minuscule chance you might actually get it and come around. It’s good that you’re asking questions, but you’re also ignoring any answers which are either awkward or inconvenient. If you’re not going to follow through with your posturing, then “feminist” just becomes a pointless label. And for fuck’s sake, “following through” does not mean “kicking people”.

As somebody male, I have some sympathy for you, because I have been in your position and I know it can be disorientating. But I don’t have very much, to be brutally honest, because I also know it’s pretty damn simple to check your privilege, shut up and listen to what people are saying.

For the record, I have never taken a women’s studies course, have never called myself a feminist, have read exactly one feminist book in my entire life (and it was a class text about fairy tales) have argued with feminists – some of them radical – about a lot of the same things you have, possess a fully-functional twentysomething male sex drive and do a lot of shit that’s stereotypically masculine. My blog is not full of irate feminists calling me an arrogant twit. Yours is. It’s time for you to accept that the problem here is largely with you.

Comment by Richie

Zombie, I can’t believe you just called Profeministmale a misogynist! WOW! You feminists are never grateful for the radical supporters like profeministmale you have!(especially considering he’s a male, and feminist male are quite rare!)

Anyway, my thoughts are: let’s not be so sensitive about everything! DO NOT sneak your views into the article! Try to make it as professional as possible! This means leaving all bias aside. Should be an interesting article.

P.S. I’d appreciate it if you ladies & gents could click the link above so I can unlock those pics. (I hate having things hidden from me…)

Comment by dnxx1

Crap. My first comment didn’t go… Anyway, these women who are posing for the magazines are doing so out of choice. It’s their life, their job. They need the money to make a living. Not many people enjoy their job. We can’t just say ”Well, I find this degrading therefore it is.” This is just an opinion, and we, as feminists, must respect freedom of choice. After all, isn’t feminism about choice? Aren’t these models actually ’empowered’, considering they have power over men with their beauty, and earn a lot more than your average man? What about bodybuilders who pose for magazines? Is that degrading, or are they just doing their job?

Comment by dnxx1

“You feminists are never grateful for the radical supporters like profeministmale you have!”

Right. We feminists should just be glad anyone considers women fully human and never engage in dialogue about feminist theory and the ways in which our feminism(s) work themselves out in the real world. Give me a break. Imagine saying “You blacks should be grateful any white people support you at all.”

Just because PFM is a guy doesn’t mean he’s perfect. That, in and of itself, is male privilege: being considered the objective, most valuable voice in the discussion.

Feminism is *not* “all about choice.” There are feminist choices and un-feminist choices. We must talk about the ways in which various choices affect women as individuals and women as a class.

Comment by SarahMC

I’m still choking over the fact that dnx called him/herself a feminist… Wow.

Comment by zombie z

There’s such a thing as being considered to condone the content by proxy. 1/ Even if you manage to write feminist articles in a men’s magazine, I sincerely doubt you’ll be able to keep up if they are focused on supplying readers with what THEY want and thus what will bring in the most money.
2/ You will undoubtedly seem to be, simply by associating your name with the magazine, condoning it’s otherwise sexist material.

I resent that you would even pretend to be a champion of women’s rights and then consider taking on a job that’s perpetuated so much shit in many women’s lives. Even if you claim to be supporting a woman’s autonomy (how feminist, Larry Flynt claims to do this too) you’re supporting a few individual women’s rights to profit, while setting the rest of us up for a longer and more difficult battle.

By taking this job, you’re sending a strong message to the men who produce that content.
Most of all, you’ll be saying something very disturbing to me: that you’re willing to sell both you and me out in order to make a buck.

People have refused to do interviews with Hustler magazine because they realized that while the content they were covering was entirely different, having their picture in the magazine suggested support for the whole thing.
What you’re going to be doing is making the rest of the magazine seem ok with feminists, and I think they know that. It seems like a PR stunt, something they can fall back on when they’re accused of sexism. “But we have a feminist male working on it!”

This is a classic case of the pressures to sell out. But luckily with this dilemma, you have a huge opportunity to choose to do something very positive by turning down the promise of money and a steady job to stick by your principles and make the world a better place for someone other than yourself.

Comment by Kate the Great

oh and dnxx1 is a MRA, not a feminist. That became apparent enough when I read his page.

Comment by Kate the Great

PFM, I have no hard feelings for you. I can see what you’ve been trying to do here, and I commend you for it – but the truth is that feminists will NEVER ACCEPT YOU.

Feminism is inherently anti-male.

Comment by Exposing Feminism

You just got out of the military but your big ethical dilemma is about whether you should work for a magazine?

Comment by TB

Do you remember at wich point specificaly your testiceles fell off?

Comment by Glenn Coleman-Cooke

Exposing – agaim, who are these “they” you speak of? And since when did “acceptance” become the determining factor of one’s involvement in any social justice movement? Shut the fuck up.

TB – what the hell does one have to do with another?

Comment by profeministmale

PFM, you suck up to bitches so much it’s stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!Why don’t you SUCK MY TITS YOU STUPID WHORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU CAN FUCK OFF DICKBRAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!FEMINAZI CUNT WHORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!RAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment by Susan

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