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"Girlie Magazines"

A Love Affair, Right or Wrong

An essay by Java

     First off, are girlie magazines sexist? Well, yes. How can they not be. They are an extenuation of the battle of the sexes. The era of the classic girlie magazine ran from the mid 1950's through the early 1960's starting, basically,  with Playboy and was soon joined by magazines named Adam, Jem, Escapade, Sir Knight and many other smaller titles. They were a combination of playful cheesecake photos, tame back room jokes, humor stories, fantasy and action tales, and various one panel gags. It's the tounge-in-cheek, winking humor that helps these magazines endure into the modern age. It's a paper version of the burlesque show; a bawdy, yet harmless, evening's entertainment. The women are photoed in the classic glamour style, where curves and artistic poses are the focus rather than the modern obsession with specific body parts (and close-ups of these parts). This objectification pitfall is what happened to Playboy in the late 60's. They moved away from humor and tried to take their magazine filled with naked women too seriously. But this isn't Playboy's fault entirely. There was a little thing called the sexual revolution. Not to say the rise of feminism was a bad thing, in fact it was a good thing, but it caused the death of the harmless girlie magazine. What was seen after the late 60's was a harmful male overreaction to social change. There was a misogynist trend in magazines that started publication; like Penthouse, Hustler, and Screw. Humor was gone. Burlesque was gone. The winking had been replaced by a screaming obscenity. Now, after 40 years, these classic men's magazines are a bit of wonderful nostalgia. There jokes area bit musty, their pictures tame, and their ads a kitsch gold mine. They still fight for their side in the battle of the sexes, but they have never lost respect for those on the other side of the battlefield.




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