Sorry, you can’t be interested in music, unless you’re a man

I recently took a trip to my local bookstore and left outrageously offended.

I’ve become more and more accustomed to shopping online; whether it’s because I’ve grown lethargic or because I attend school in the barren farmlands of Rhode Island, I don’t know. Had I known I would encounter the experience I’m about to describe, I would have continued my e-commerce shopping under the covers with a chocolate bar and a credit card. Here’s what happened when I did venture out for a in-store shopping adventure.

I went to a different store than I’m familiar with for a monthly browse and, as any self-proclaimed music geek would, I ventured towards the magazine section on the hunt for the latest music industry news before I left.

I spent 20 minutes searching for the music magazines. I was in a state of confusion as I circled around the shelves again and again. I checked entertainment, current events; heck, I even checked the tabloid section. But never, never, did it cross my mind to check the so-called “men’s interest” shelf. But sure enough, as I walked past, I happened to notice a little guitar sticking out by one of the scantily clad models on the magazine beside it.

If I had a “most offended moments in life” list, which I don’t, this would be right up there with my great aunt pinching my cheek and telling me I should lay off the turkey or I’ll start to look like one. How dare they assume that only men are interested in music? It was while my inner outrage boiled, however, that I got to thinking: Is this bookstore really that sexist or are marketers actually aiming to appeal to men with these magazines?

None of the magazines in this section were using particularly flashy colors or phrases that typical women’s interest magazines include, but to assume that marketers gear magazines without bright colors towards men alone is sexism that should not be overlooked. 

While it’s true that certain magazines aim to please men and conversely women, it doesn’t seem entirely fair that such a broad topic enjoyed by both sexes should be blatantly placed in one sex’s category because that implies women are interested in fashion and beauty alone. I might as well grab my pink lipstick and cook dinner while I’m at it. At the time, I concluded that this particular case was the fault of a worker in the store.

However, there have been other similar occurrences that piqued my suspicion further as I investigated.

The “Cami Secret” clip-on camisole, coined “Boob Apron” by an online parody, brings up doubts in my mind about the intentions of the marketers. The women in the infomercial declare their exasperation with men who stare at their chests and seems to insinuate that all men are pigs who can’t take their eyes off women’s chests. While this could be a major issue in some cases, many people were outraged by the idea that all men behave in this manor.

In other cases, an unsettling number of commercials display, instead of a set of parents, mothers alone with their children. Why should women represent stay-at-home parents instead of men? The old standard is hardly as prevalent as it was fifty years ago.  Recently, more and more men have taken on the role of “stay-at-home-dad” and these commercials can be offensive to both fathers who stay with their children and mothers who work.

Both examples show a transparently sexist approach to connecting with their viewers.  Do our magazines do the same? Hard to say.

What I do know? Make a “general interest” shelf.  Problem solved.

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