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Undertake an Ideological Analysis for Two Different Magazines

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Essay title: Undertake an Ideological Analysis for Two Different Magazines

Undertake an ideological analysis for two different magazines. (You may choose to pay attention to particular part of each magazine. If so, please justify this choice.)

The semiotic codes of the content of a women’s and men’s magazines demonstrate how the media construct ideologies through a combination of images, titles and content to create generic formulas aimed at different readerships and audiences.

Ballaster, et al. suggests that some theorist argue that “men have interests in oppressing women analogous to their class interests; it is in the interest of all men to exploit women’s labor of women’s sexuality” (Delphy; Dworkin, 1982).

Through this essay I will explore the representation of the material instinct in contemporary women and men’s magazines. Do they reflect the real women and their experiences or do they sell patriarchal values and male domination? And how do magazines use this to their advantage to target and construct their audiences?

The evidence for the existence of these representations is derived from research based on a selection of women’s magazines published early in the present year to demonstrate an up to date representation of constructed femininity in our media and society: March 2008 issue of Cosmopolitan and April 2008 issue of FHM. Both of these texts are popular mainstream magazines that are available in most newsagents, and are aimed at similar readers. The Cosmopolitan magazine, which is published every month, is targeted at the middle to upper class females of 20-35 years of age. The FHM magazine is also aimed at the same target audience but for males.

“The term post feminism suggests that we are now �beyond’ the new struggle for gender equality �postmodern’ playfulness or irony is the proper response to oppression.” (Branston & Stafford, 2003) Some feminist feel that the balance of representation has tilted back towards sexist images and languages, merely updated by the �alibi’ of irony such as FHM and the use of women as traditionally �sex objects’ (for example in playboy poses, etc). It is questioned why women readers still buy cosmopolitan (one of the most top selling magazines in England and America), and how FHM magazine manages to use the same subjectivity towards women to entice its readers.

Theorist Len Ang believes magazines publishers and editorial teams make huge assumptions about their audiences. Cosmopolitan describe itself as �the lifestyle for millions of fun, fearless females who want to be the best they can be in every day of their lives. Perhaps representing the stronger, competitive working female. The Cosmopolitan front cover has approximately seven cover stories. These are made up of true stories; fashion, health and beauty tips; famous people; women with a problem that have found a solution; women seeking men; and jobs. From this we can gather that the target readers are career orientated, single or unmarried, childless and definitively heterosexual. Seven out of ten of the main articles are about men and sex such as �If a Penis could talk’ (Written by a male journalist). This article gives women tips on how to please a man sexually and addresses the male as �the expert’. On the front cover the title of this article is “The truth! Sex advice men wish you knew.” The article implies that women do not have their own independent sexual knowledge about pleasuring men and therefore should be informed by the males themselves. It enforces the view of women being slaves to men including sexually. �What goes through men’s minds when they fall out of love?’ and �How does he really feel about you?’ were also articles that implement to women an ideal character to be for their man in order to keep them. Although some people do just buy it for the entertainment, it also leads us to believe that the readers are subordinates trying to appeal to dominate.

Studies of gender role in magazines and advertising, for example show that women are still represented according to long standing cultural stereotypes.


“…such density of reference and discursive variety does not imply that the women’s magazine does not ultimately work to secure male dominance or women’s oppression. Just the reverse in fact…”

(Ballaster, 1991)

Young women are now said to take for granted the respect, equal pay, etc. struggled for by early feminists. Does shopping and wearing lipstick point to the pleasure of trying on identities as well as the need to reread a woman’s sexualized appearance as not necessarily subordinating her to men? Gender based arguments raise the

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