The Maxim Man

I’ve hit a new personal low. This week, I followed the strange vagaries of the male mind through page after page of Maxim magazine. Between these folds, there’s no trace of the sensitive, soy-milk-sipping, tinted-moisturizer-wearing modern man. Here, the tamed male rattles his cage and devolves into a beer-belching boor, finally loosed to sate his cravings for Jose Cuervo, “voyeuristic celebubabe sites,” and pictures of half-clothed Victoria’s Secret chicks.

I learned facts I never wanted to know. (Guess what? The average person produces 25,000 quarts of spit in a lifetime.) I got answers to questions I never asked. (What’s the best way to dispose of human bones? Don’t hide them in freezers.) I learned the importance of taking intermittent Guitar Hero breaks to avoid carpal tunnel, I discovered that there are 47,984 drinking establishments in America and I found out you can scare off a shark by punching it in the nose.

Overall, Maxim articles can be divided into three categories …

Read Kritik Magazine: The Maxim Man for more.


~ by stultiloquence on March 10, 2008.

21 Responses to “The Maxim Man”

  1. I like your style, Harris.

    (And boys are gross, but we knew that. Even mine, who is clean and sophisticated, can occasionally be gross.)

  2. I can’t say I’ve ever read Maxim. I must not really be a man after all. That said, I did know that you can scare off a shark by punching his nose, and my high school chemistry teacher’s son told me what to do if I’m ever out swimming and am attacked by an electric eel.

  3. I don’t think all men are gross, just Maxim men. Although I will take your word for it, Alissa. 😉

    Jacob, but do you know about Victoria Secret model K.D. Aubert’s first broken heart? THAT is why you have to read Maxim.

  4. The Kritik article features my favorite of your writing that I’ve seen, formally speaking (it’s not because it’s about SEX.)

    I agree with you, generally, very much. Until I reached the end of the article, I was thinking, “Yeah, but what about Cosmopolitan?” Then, “Nevermind, she’s got an idea about that too and some other dude has an article on it too.”

    The implications go far beyond what you’ve talked about so far though.

    Women don’t just fit into a certain self-inflicted mold of sexuality and servitude without expecting men to make similar sacrifices for the benefit of men – they do it because _women_ expect them to (and have for a long time, before Cosmo.)

    Men don’t just like to read about violence and dangerously deviant behavior in the same story, they like to think about deviant behavior that _is_ violent. Advertisements in men’s magazines (not just sexually oriented ones, but magazines which target men – videogame magazines, hunting magazines, car magazines, technology magazines, etc.) often feature women in helpless, sexually suggestive poses with blank (drug or alcohol related passivity?) or distraught faces. Worse, sentient danger is often in direct opposition to them (particularly in videogame magazines.) Back against the wall, held down by a weight, get the idea? Advertisement is the place to go for media-enforced and mirrored expectations. Delve into the dance music scene, into the independent music culture, and hobbyist electronic art of any sort, and we find a strange allure is often attached to the word “rape” itself. I’m sure this is manifested elsewhere in men-dominated subcultures, but those are some I have experience with.

    I sense some sarcasm, I think, when you say “shouldn’t a men’s magazine help men at least fake sensitivity?” Men of the sort that Maxim is targeting (which really fits most males I know, based on the kinds of conversations we have) know that this “sensitivity” (we like to think of it in quotes, because we don’t generally believe in it’s existence) is a really great trick for seducing girls. I use the term “seduce” liberally, because some guys aren’t actually meaning to go that far – they just want a few emotional victories. While false sensitivity might be far pleasanter to the buffaloed, it is among the most detestable of behaviors I have personally observed in humanity.

    The most troublesome effect (for me) of the objectification of women is before me every day, incarnated in a friend of mine (one of my roommates) who is, I believe, generally a good young man who dreams of bettering the lives of others. He doesn’t know how to rationally talk to his female friends as women. He has to pretend they are guys, even if he is not attracted to them, to be able to talk to them as people, though he often returns to a bestial sexualization of them when he speaks of them in their absence.

    Thanks for not just reminding us that Maxim borders on visual pornography. There’s so much more to it than that.

  5. Oh, that was long; excuse me. Also, I admit to being a feminist of the sort that simply believes women and men have been all but forced into the wrong places. Men aren’t allowed to say that without being insincere or homosexual, are they? Well, I’m neither, and if that means I’m to be belittled, what the heck.

  6. “Men of the sort that Maxim is targeting know that this “sensitivity” is a really great trick for seducing girls. I use the term “seduce” liberally, because some guys aren’t actually meaning to go that far – they just want a few emotional victories.”

    I agree. There is a dangerous line between genuine care and manipulation (my milder version of your “seduce”). In Christian circles, this might look like loud, public pronouncements of chivalry and sensitivity.

    In contrast, examine the “bad boy” phenomenon in Christian girl circles. I suspect it has to do with the unappealing emasculation of the “nice guy,” and the ridiculous farce that somehow the “bad boy” is more confident. Of course, any mildly insightful male (and any girl who makes an honest effort) sees the bad boy as the height of insecurity and absurdity, a bombastic attempt at overcompensation… It is essentially an 11-year-old “my daddy’s bigger than your daddy” dispute — somehow less precious in an 20-year-old-plus man.

    Even better is the combination of the two: the over-the-top bad boy with a sensitive soul (but, mind you, only the “right girl” can bring out that sensitive side… and isn’t it so empowering and exciting and chick-flickish to be that right girl?)… he gets the best of both manipulations. Girls who want to will see him as confident, and they can get their 21st-century sensitivity, as well as the titillating facade that it’s your femininity that draws out the *real* him.

  7. yes, boys are a little yucky sometimes. But not necessarily perverse. Maxim is yucky.
    I wrote a thesis in high school about how near-pornography in the media (cosmo, maxim, etc.) was harmful to women. The homeschool mom overseeing it turned it into an article about biblical modesty. I was violating co-op standards when I delivered the thesis. My skirt was “too tight.” (My dad thought it was fine.) I never fit in there anyway.

    The point is, you are really awesome. And this article was really good.

  8. Eh, Abby, I’d say guys are perverse at times. Remember that Maxim sells because guys are vulnerable to that crap.

  9. I am amazed that you are able to come up with some worthwhile and hilarious prose out of anything…even the pages of Maxim.
    Thanks for being a real woman. Abby and I can only take care of one half of that…

  10. what half is that?

  11. Woman or real? I only read your names all the time, so I can’t really tell what sex you two are, much less whether or not you actually exist. Perhaps you’re imaginary AND male? OHMY!

  12. Michael – that was a very thoughtful, interesting response. Mark and Michael, what you said about sensitivity was especially interesting. I’ve often wondered if some Christian guys know how hard some girls fall for “sensitivity” and “spirituality.” Do they know that they’re emotionally and spiritually manipulating these girls or is it unintentional? From what you’re saying, I guess they must know what they’re doing.

  13. I would say most do know what they’re doing, yes. Most guys have a need to make some kind of a show of their girl-handling abilities to other guys, especially if they are already perceived as unmanly in one respect or another (sensitivity being a prime example.) Because of this, guys who appear to be sensitive and/or spiritual (and to a degree often actually are one or both of those) tend to bring attention to the influence it has on girls. To me, this says that they know what they’re doing.

    At least the bad boys are fairly sincere about what they’re doing, which allows me more room to respect them if I want to, but the manipulatively sensitive fellas scare me like the guy dropping GHB in the new girl’s drink. At least she’ll probably never see date-rape dude again, but the Gentleman gets the girl from now to who knows when – and, if he’s good enough, he gets her time, her heart, her soul, _and_ her body, before the divorce.

    So, things look bleak now, I suppose. Kind men are the worst, jerks are better, and … guys who don’t even care are what’s left? Does that sound like what every girl envisions when she’s told every last One has Someone for her, and God prepared him? There probably really are sincere gentleman out there who want the best for people around them and give of themselves for that purpose, thoughtless of recompense. I thought I’d finally found one of those to point to as an example, after these years, but in his worst moments, he’s undeniably in the guise of a pig. It’s very disappointing when I realize this and my stomach becomes a bottomless pit. Still, there are older men that seem to have overcome this way of being and this way of seeing women, and I’ve been told by one very young newly-married woman that her husband is unique in this respect. Those are reasons to hope. Real gentleman may exist yet. Until they’re found, I half-heartedly recommend assessing the dull guys who don’t care to focus their time on girls – or are shy and scared to. They might not cater to you, and they might not impress you, but maybe some of them are trying their best to not manipulate and to see you as you are.

    Or maybe they’re quietly imagining you naked.

    I’m sorry, it’s a downer.

  14. I know what you are talking about, and I do think that there are lots of guys who are irresponsibly sensitive.

    emily: I guess you could say I am double the woman you are.

  15. (I don’t think fake sensitive fellow and tough guy are much different, and certainly not in sincerity — same insecurity and deception expressed in opposite manners)

    I think Mr. Bacon is a bit overboard. I do think there is much more room for sincerity than Michael. Fact is, most of us don’t really confront the depth of our own manipulation; most of us manipulate at a subconscious level.

    It is important to recognize that every guy is a twisted and insecure man who struggles mightily with lust and deception. But I also believe God is good, and I know that – in spite of struggles and weaknesses – there are many righteous and admirable men. Remembering that righteousness does not equal perfection is key.

  16. I think we’re actually still agreeing, Mark, unless you didn’t mention what I went overboard on. It looks as if we just have different ways of phrasing the same ideas. Perhaps I am just reacting more caustically to what you see as imperfection (and that I see as a bit more terrible than that?)

    I believe there are admirable men, and I’ve met a few. However, they all seem to have the problem under discussion or are at least twenty years older than I am.

  17. Have you all considered that this manipulation might be one of the natural means a man and woman become close, and one of the best charms to smooth a rough patch in a relationship? A man’s a fool if he thinks he knows how a woman works. If this is so, how do you expect him to treat this real ‘her’ properly? He doesn’t know how. Maybe he’ll know after twenty years of marriage.
    Sensitivity and badass-ness definitely attract women, which we’ve agreed above is a problem. But perhaps by these means they’ll be attracted to a guy at whom they never would otherwise have batted an eyelash.
    There are so many reasons not to be in a relationship. It’s very few guys who actually want to listen to a sob story. But it helps the girl – she says, “I bet I was just boring you, but thanks for listening” – and it helps the guy – he gets a girl.
    I’d say the same thing about a kind of manipulation a girl can pull on a guy – seduction. Most every guy likes to be flattered with some kind or other of sexual interest, even if it’s only a girl making puppy eyes at him. And the girl gets her guy.
    Clearly manipulation can be fouled by impure motivations, lust and pride figuring largely. But in its essence it’s a good thing. One party desires, he or she manipulates, the other party appreciates.

  18. Perhaps, Matthew, you have mistaken flirtation for manipulation. If so, ok. If not, since when did manipulation become a good thing?
    To manipulate is “to control or play on by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage.” Just focus on those key words of “control”, “unfair”, “insidious”, and “own advantage”.
    Though I am not by any means a relationship advice expert (HA! thats a scary thought), it seems pretty obvious that all relationships, but especially romantic relationships (as they have more on the line, so to speak), ought to be founded on mutual respect and trust. Such a foundation can only be fostered through open communication. Manipulation is the antithesis of such openness.
    But fundamentally, manipulation is contrary to a Biblical understanding of love. Love being inherently selfless, manipulation for selfish gain is an empty visage of the genuine (decaffeinated coffee).

  19. Cheers for James! Here, here, James!

  20. Well, if you’re going to quote a definition to me that includes the word ‘insidious’, and if insidious necessarily includes the meaning ‘hurtful’, then you’ve got me. But remove that word and we can keep your definition. Manipulation is indeed controlling. It is also unfair, because it’s irresistible. It is indeed for one’s own advantage. But does any of that preclude the other person’s advantage? No. If done with the intention to hurt, of course it’s bad. But there’s plenty of sensitivity and seduction which can be done without any malice at all, and indeed without any harmful side-effects at all.
    Hypothetical situation, but not very dissimilar to a true event:
    When Tom’s friend Jane wants him to do an errand for her, and she knows he don’t want to do it, she caresses his face with her palm, she pleads in a mellow whisper, and her eyes open widely. He hates it because she’s not playing fair. She’s playing the sex card and he’s putty in her hands. But he does the errand anyway, begrudgingly, but also in awe of her power. She thanks him in her heart for being a kind friend – and she respects him for the very reason that he acknowledges and admires her sexual power. That’s seduction.
    I never said that manipulation founds any relationship at all. I do say that I can jump-start some, and that it’s medicine for others, and that if done without malice, it’s generally pleasurable for both parties, whether friends or lovers.

  21. None of that sounds good at all. Using manipulation (including sexual manipulation) is insincere and controlling (in a bad way.)

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