More Magazine, male-centred sexuality and kissing girls

Let me start by saying, I did not buy More magazine. I found it, and out of sheer curiosity, I read it. I sort of wish I hadn’t.

Imagine my horror, as a queer woman, a feminist, and a person with a tendency to get a little bit angry to be greeted with this article:

How would your man feel if you kissed a girl?

How would your man feel if you kissed a girl?

Apparently this is the most important issue in the world when it comes to discussion of kissing women. Whether it turns men on. In the text of the article, there is absolutely no acknowledgement that perhaps queer women may exist. Kissing women is, according to More magazine, exclusively something that women do in nightclubs “in front of an appreciative male audience”.

The article provides the opinion of two men. One man declares that it is “seriously hot” and that he “can’t help but fantasise about joining the party”. The other man thinks that it is “just attention seeking” and “ugly” and “insecure”. Both men are falling prey to objectification.

What is perhaps worst about this, though, is that no opinions of women are sought. From the title of the article and all the way through, how a woman might feel about kissing another woman is not mentioned at all. This is because, to More, sexuality is constructed as something which is entirely male centred.

The magazine is utterly riddled with such articles. A story about Victoria Beckham’s post-birth weight loss is framed as “POSH SHAPES UP FOR DAVID”. An interview with a pop star which largely discusses her music and her weight is titled “I LIKE MY MEN RUGGED”, as if that were the most interesting thing about her. A story about Cheryl Cole casts her as a passive bystander in the crossfire of a fight between two men. The horoscopes page provides horoscopes for “your man”, so the reader can discover whether the line up of stars will make her boyfriend a little grumpier than usual this week.

The phrase “your man” occurs repeatedly. More‘s construction of sexuality is entirely monogamous: you get your man, and that is who you have sex with. More provides a “position of the week”, which explains “what’s in it for him”. If you are worried about him cheating, it is perfectly acceptable to look through his phone. Beauty products and clothes exist to “wow your man”. The most important thing about a woman is “her man”.

There is no space in More for anything outside of this heteronormative monogamous relationship. You are either in one, or you are seeking one. Someday your man will come. Perhaps you can tempt him with a little bit of girl-snogging?

The picture of sexuality presented in More is as unrealistic for many as the position of the week, which starts with “stand on the edge of your villa’s private pool”. For many women, the heteronormative ideal is undesirable or unattainable: it makes women who wish for the heteronormative ideal feel like failures for being unable to “bag a man”, while queer women may feel invisible and marginalised. It is also bloody awful to suggest to women that their boyfriend is the most important and interesting thing about them, as this is categorically untrue.

Sexuality is so much more than impressing a man or pleasing a man. I do not expect a mainstream women’s magazine to provide good detailed advice on polyamory or lesbian practice (though it would be brilliant if they did). What I would like to see, though, is some acknowledgement that ultimately, one’s sexuality should revolve around oneself: not about “what your man might like”, but about what you might like or want. The things that make you feel sexy.

Perhaps that is kissing women. Perhaps that is fucking women. Hell, perhaps it is kissing another consenting woman just to turn men on. Personal jollies, rather than constant thought of existing solely in relation to men.

It is so thoroughly miserable that even a magazine targeted to women will maintain the patriarchal notion that a man’s opinion is the alpha and omega.

And this is why I am adding More  to my library of publications to burn.

14 thoughts on “More Magazine, male-centred sexuality and kissing girls”

  1. Thanks, this was a good article. Depressed to see More are still up to the usual nonsense – I stopped reading a few years ago after an interview they ran with a lesbian all about how you’re totally still allowed to wear make-up and skirts, and being butch sucks.

    1. Oh dear lord. I groaned out loud at the mere concept. I bet reading the whole thing was a nightmare. Brave stuff.

  2. To believe that a commercially viable (and accessible) magazine can write articles that genuinely challenge its readers is to expect blood from a stone these days. The subtext of the majority of teen/moronic adult magazines can be summed up in the crudest terms of heterosexuality, physical insecurity and celebrity/football (dependent on the gender). To read More magazine and expect an honest exploration of the subtleties and singularities of human desire is a little like reading the Bible and expecting a scientifically sound account of the universe’s beginning. You’re in the wrong place.

    I understand that something that receives such a high readership and also happens to be genuinely ignorant and inobservant can be annoying. Frame your consideration of the article as such: the readership of the magazine are 98% female, 90% of which are heterosexual. The article is written by some poor novelist wannabe with an unlucky route through a trash magazine. He/she wants to be the part of the whole “I kissed a girl and I liked it” bullshit (that Katy Perry so successfully rammed down the throats of unsuspecting and uninformed teenagers everywhere) to the benefit of his/her career and as such would also like to be published.

    More magazine will never feature the article you desire, just as Zoo magazine will never feature an excerpt from James Joyce’s Ulysses. If you want an even easier target, why not try writing about misogyny in sports commentary. Or water in the sea.

    1. Really, I don’t think it’s too radical or commercially inviable to ask for a shift from “what he wants” to “what you want”. I’d hope, anyway.

      1. At the very least, it seems like a magazine with a (roughly, maybe theoretically) 10% non-straight readership might acknowledge non-straight sexualities… I don’t know… 10% of the time.

        Which, sadly, I expect they would say the “How would your man feel if you kissed a girl?” article does. Because, it’s totally TWO WIMMINZ KISSING.

  3. Ugh. That is sickening.

    It’s like at Christmas where you get adverts about “gifts for him” and telling you what to buy “for her” — the implication is obviously YOUR HETEROSEXUAL LIFE PARTNER which obviously you have because otherwise what are you, some kind of freak?
    In fact, I find it generally really annoying when someone makes the implied audience for their message so obvious and so narrowly normative. It’s like the person writing it hasn’t even considered for a second that anyone else exists or can read. Magazines are horrendous for this.

    1. I sent scathing missives to Paypal & Boots, after they sent me “What to get your man for Christmas!” emails. Never did get a reply, swines.

  4. GIven how widespread female fans & writers of male gay “slash” fiction are, it’s pretty surprising that men’s mags haven’t started urging fellas to “gay it up” for their girlfriends. Maybe sounds absurd, but it’s the same logic as “More” are using, turned back t’other way.

    1. Same logic, but unfortunately men’s mags don’t give a crap about women’s sexual agency any more than women’s mags do 😦

      1. True – they’re always full of ways to try & get girlfriends sexually interested, but it seems pretty self-serving really, & FSM forbid they actually did anything purely selfless for the women in their lives…

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