New ad for “Cosmo for Guys” lets you get inside a girl’s head

Some ads, such as the Summer’s Eve videos we covered recently, seem doomed to be sexist and terrible because the product they’re selling is. This new video promoting an iPad-only “Cosmo for Guys” magazine that promises to let (straight) men know “what women want” is like that.

As bad as this ad is, I’m sure the product will be even worse. In case the idea wasn’t painfully clear, the video’s director explained: “The concept and analogy here is to show a guy ‘getting inside a girl’s head’ and sort of ‘reading her mind’ by flipping through the magazine pages on the iPad. The reason for that is: it is the first magazine for men that is written by women, so for the first time women are letting guys in on what they think.

Oh boy. Well, if that’s the tall order CFG is aiming for, I think guys might find themselves more confused than ever. I’d imagine that the “hottest sexual experience” of one these women looks pretty different from that of one these women. CFG readers probably don’t even have a chance with these women. And while iPad Head Girl didn’t seem to mind when that strange guy touched her face, to this woman right here that would be a slap-worthy offense. Women: so mystifying when you treat them like a monolith.

It’s the utter uselessness of a magazine based on bullshit gender stereotypes that I find even more offensive than the sexism. The idea that trying to “read her mind” will be enough to get any woman off is almost as laughable as the notion that all women love the same gifts. Maybe instead of engaging in some equal-opportunity gender essentializing and preying “on the same fears of sexual inadequacy and relationship failure that regular Cosmo has made its bread and butter for years,” we should just replace every page of both magazines with this simple and fool-proof advice: JUST ASK.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • John

    In order to get inside her head, he erases it. He replaces her with a fictional, idealized image of what he wants her to be. Awesome.

    • toongrrl

      Yes. That’s exactly it!

  • Dan C

    Fantastic points, Maya.

    There’s obviously enormous market for these gender stereotype magazines (or least there is for “regular” Cosmo. We’ll see how CFG does.) The obvious solution, as you point out, is better communication between genders. I know there are already websites that have toyed with the idea of getting people to publicly express their sexual desires (OKCupid, formspring). Does anyone know of a site that exists solely for the purpose of surveying, analyzing and publishing the habits of different genders? It seems like it could be a less sexist option.

  • Masa Mochizuki

    Just ask. Yup, I’m pretty sure that’s the best option.

    Ignoring for a second that this is heterosexist, I think the whole idea of getting inside someone’s mind implies and affirms that there is an insurmountable barrier. The wording also comes off as manipulative and intrusive, as if I have to get inside someone’s head through some covert means as opposed to a normal, genuine dialogue.

    Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus and What Women Want hit me as being in the same vein of using gender stereotyping to replace genuine dialogue. It doesn’t matter how much you “know” about another gender or sex if you don’t care enough to genuinely engage. Like you said, just ask.

    Which is why the “getting inside their head” thing, if it’s even possible, just sounds manipulative because you don’t have to really care or try. It almost seems like the pickup artist stuff – get inside their head and figure them out to get what you want. Even if CFG gives great insight and “works”, it is still marketed as a way to replace healthy communication and genuine engagement.

  • Perspicacity Spour

    Creepier than the final guy touching her face, I reckon, was the staring and commenting as if she wasn’t a person for the rest of the advert; Creepy, because it was a perfect depiction of how it feels to be female-bodied and to do something non-conformist in public.

    And don’t get me started on “She was so happy that the man came over and started touching her without asking first” [subtext; Because she could never make the first move].

    • Broggly

      Not sure how much of it’s about non-conformity (I don’t think it’s that gendered except insofar as some types of male non-conformity generate fear rather than stares) but rather about the whole idea of women as a strange, mysterious species. “What is this strange Wom Mon? Let us observe its ways.”

      Happy? Don’t you mean “Invisible behind all those words describing how Cosmo says women are”?

  • james

    How does this offend people? If women are so pissed that men dont understand them or how they feel, wouldnt a magazine that talks about that be a good thing? I know everyones different issue to issue, but i think having a publication that can give some insight into the GENERAL philosophy cant be dismissed. and 10 to 1 noboby gives a damn when cosmo offers ways for women to understand men. but hey whats this? a double standard! i thought we didnt lke those?