In 1999, Mary De Genova and F. Philip Rice conducted an experiment to determine the differences between the covers of twelve popular men’s and women’s magazines. Fifty-four out of the sixty-nine covers viewed of the women’s magazines contained some message about bodily appearance, whereas none of the fifty-three covers of the men’s magazines viewed contained such messages (78). It seems that the media socializes women to value themselves according to their appearance and men are taught that being a man is about status and success rather than physicality (De Genova and Rice 68). Karen Horney, a German psychiatrist in the early twentieth century, maintained that there is a distrust that exists between the sexes partly because “we all have a natural fear of losing ourselves in another person” (361).

Because trusting someone of the opposite sex requires vulnerability, people are reluctant to allow themselves to be seen without the protective shield of indifference. After perusing the May issues of Elle, G.Q., Glamour, and Maxim, one could detect that women are taught to please men through their appearance and their sexual prowess while men are taught to use their fashion and their knowledge to appear ambivalent and independent. Before one can consider the messages contained within the magazines, he or she must be aware of the media existing as a socializing agent. Magazines and other forms of Taylor 2 mass media transmit several messages that shape the way individuals view themselves and others. There are several perceived differences between the gender roles of men and women. Young children are taught schemes of gender that continue to be culturally and socially reinforced as they grow up; the children, in turn, use these schemes to process information about themselves and about others.

Children are encouraged to assume the appropriate gender identity by being rewarded for behaviors that align with socially-determined gender expectations and punished for those that do not. Those who live up to societal expectations are accepted as normal; those who do not conform are criticized and pressured to comply. (Transition sentence) All four magazines viewed contain messages about the importance of style, but Elle and Glamour, women’s magazines, promote the idea that a female’s personal happiness is linked to her physical appearance. Elle contained an article entitled “Pretty, Please” which demonstrated various techniques of applying makeup in order to make a woman appear more beautiful. G.Q. and Maxim, men’s magazines, endorse style as a means of exuding machismo. This month’s issue of Maxim includes an article entitled “Fly Guys: The combination of wearing these clothes and jumping out of a plane are sure to draw her attention” (165) which discusses the idea of clothing as a means of appearing tough, something that is purported to be attractive to women.

The men’s magazines consist of various articles that appeal to them as intelligent beings; G.Q. uses words such as “sartorial” (64) and “resplendent” and contains articles about architecture (74) and politics (210). In general, society views men to be the more powerful sex and as such need to be intelligent and informed of their world. The women’s magazines, on the other hand, seem to portray women as being objects of desire; every article within these magazines is about how she can better herself in the eyes of a man. Through the viewpoint of these four magazines, the woman is expected to be physically attractive and be an expert in the bedroom. Glamour’s cover displays the headline “15 Secret Sex Fantasies Every Guy Has”, an article in which the woman is informed about said fantasies and instructed on how to effectively carry them out so as to please the man. This article, and several others like that have been featured in previous women’s magazines, implies that every woman should center her life around attracting and satisfying a potential mate.

Horney would say that society has placed importance on women acting in this way because it gives them a sense of control in a relationship. If a woman can draw the attention of a man and maintain that connection by giving him what he desires, the women gets the impression that she is navigating the relationship’s course. The man, on the other hand, believes that he is in control because the woman is doing what he wants her to do (Horney 361). It seems that men are not necessarily fearful of women but are instead constantly trying to “achieve and maintain the upper hand… and protect themselves from others’ attempts to put them down and push them around” (Tannen 25). Men want to be assured that they are in control of their lives so as to avoid vulnerability. Women, on the other hand, approach the world “as an individual in a network of connections…

[They] negotiate for closeness and seek confirmation and support” (Tannen 25). Women mostly seek acceptance and connection with other individuals. One way in which they can achieve this is to.

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