He Said, She Said, They Said

Here in the Northeast, we have a chain of drug stores called “CVS”. (I think it stands for “Consumer Value Stores’.) It’s one of these stores where they have a prescription drug counter, but they sell darn near everything else besides. These types of stores proliferated, starting in the 1960’s, as a way to circumvent Massachusetts’ rather archaic blue laws. This is to say that because CVS, and others like them, had a prescription drug counter; they could open on Sunday, whereas other stores were prohibited from doing so. I know that sounds like an alien concept to you west-coasters, but remember, the east coast states have been here since colonial times, and there are many laws on the books which go back to the times of the puritans. (If you think the government of Saudi Arabia is nasty for religious repression, you may want to bone up on what was done in the name of religion right here, only a few hundred years ago.)

At some point in the mid-1980’s, the top brass of CVS announced that they would no longer sell magazines such as “Playboy”, and it’s archrival, “Penthouse”. They said that this was due to poor sales, but many felt it was due to pressure from feminist organizations, and “parent groups”, who felt that CVS was selling such magazines to their teenaged sons, without even “carding” them. Hate to bust your bubble mom, but your teenaged son knows just how to get a copy of Playboy, Penthouse, or any other magazine, without your knowing squat about it. Little Bobby may not know what “Pi’ is and he probably can’t name the three branches of government, but believe me, he’s quite the little expert on getting girlie magazines, cigarettes, or a six-pack of brewskis.

What got me thinking about this? It was the recent announcement from that great American institution, (and the business model on which the next fifty years of this country will apparently be based.) WalMart. Wally World announced that they would no longer sell magazines such as “Maxim’, “Stuff”, and:”FHM”. The reason, according to WalMart, was that many of their customers expressed “discomfort” at the magazine’s cover photographs. Now for those who have never seen these magazines, (I know there are one or two of you) here they are in a nutshell: Any of the three aforementioned titles will have a cover picture of some female celebrity, who is “hot”, at least for the moment. Said celebrity female will be practically nude, usually clad in only lacy undies and hi-heels. Frequently, they will be in very suggestive poses. Pam Anderson is a “frequent guest”, in these magazines. There is some genius involved in the marketing of these magazines. How is that, you ask? It’s simple, really. At no point do they show full nudity. Oh, they come close, but they never cross the line. Simply put, this means that they may be displayed right there, on the racks next to “Better homes and Gardens”, and their audience target, (teenaged males) don’t have to go sheepishly to the counter and ask a matronly woman, possibly a friend of moms, or a steely-eyed old coot, possibly a friend of grandpa’s, for them. That was the case when CVS, and Brooks Pharmacy sold Playboy and Penthouse. Thus, the threat of “a good scolding” has been removed. I call that genius.

The contents of these magazines are simple enough, and designed to appeal to males, aged fifteen to about age 22, a fairly wide market. The articles are all about “Gadgets, beer, and babes’. That about sums up a typical issue of Maxim, FHM, or Stuff. Nothing too heavy, nothing too serious. Just Babes, sex, beer, sex, gadgets, and sex. All three of these magazines boast very large circulation’s, no surprise there. Now before anyone says anything, the answer is yes, I once bought a copy of Maxim. It was the issue with the oh-so-lovely Shannon Doherty on the cover, and a feature article was about how to jump on a freight train. Uh, excuse me, jump on a freight train? Like the hobo’s of the 1930’s? I hope no one took that seriously, or was pressured into actually doing it, because hanging around train yards without authorization, and trying to jump onto moving trains has got to be asking for a Darwin Award.

So, WalMart has decided to stop selling these magazines eh?
OK, that’s their choice, of course. Now, I have to get to the nitty gritty. A question for executives at WalMart, or anyplace which has pulled these magazines from their shelves; the question, simply is,

Did you also to stop selling such titles as “New Woman”, “Cosmopolitan,” and “Elle”?

No? You still sell them? They’re OK? What about all the women’s exercise mags, such as “Shape”? These always feature a too-thin cover model, wearing about two cents worth of material. Surely that disturbs some of your customers. At the very least, it’s gotta set off the militant feminist lobby. No? Those magazines don’t do any of that? How about an article which as on the cover of a recent edition of Cosmo, entitled “90 Sexy ways to touch him”. That must be disturbing to someone. Some weeks ago, one of those magazines, (possibly New Woman, but I’m not certain) boasted an article about how to properly “Man Hunt”. Now why do I think that an article in a Men’s magazine entitled “How to hunt for babes” would be a big no-no? I guess the question I really want to ask is this:

Why are women’s fantasies allowed by this culture, and why are men’s fantasies not allowed?

Think about this one: Guys, have you ever heard of a woman in a workplace being “called in”, because she hung a calendar featuring pictures of George Clooney, sans shirt, in her cubicle?
No? You’ve never heard of that happening? No, of course not. Now, what would happen to you, if you put up a Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar? Uh-huh, yeah. You would be “Called in” probably within the hour. I once heard a story that I have put in the category of “an urban legend”. It goes like this: A young engineer hangs a calendar of swimsuit models in his cubicle. He gets called in, and gets the official company lecture, first from his boss, then from a human resources drone. (Are these people the real “Agents of the Matrix”, or is it just me?) He is told to remove the calendar. Wanting to protect his livelihood, he follows the orders. But, he hangs another calendar, and this one features photographs of different types of military weapons, such as machine guns and rocket launchers. No, no one has a problem with this calendar. (But of course.) I have no idea if that is a true story or not. Think whatever you like on that one.

That is a glaring double standard, don’t you think? Doesn’t it seem logical that if WalMart, or any other retailer, is going to go through the process of removing all magazines aimed at young males from their magazine racks, then shouldn’t the same logic apply to magazines aimed at young women? And what about all those so-called “romance novels”? They have no photographs, of course, just the cover art, usually depicting a Victorian-era woman in a ripped dress, and a Victorian-era man in a ripped shirt, with pectoral muscles which Arnold himself would envy (Guys, when no one is looking, pick up one of those books, and do a quick read of a few random pages. You’ll find them to be quite explicit. Uh, put the book down before someone sees you though!) Shouldn’t these “romance novels” create a problem, in the same way that Maxim and FHM created a problem? What would happen if a group of males went to the management offices of retailers and said that all the women’s exercise magazines, and all the romance novels were “making us uncomfortable”? I’m not certain what would happen, but I think it would involve a lot of hysterical laughing.

I’ve got a better idea: If you don’t like a certain type of magazine of book, just don’t buy them. Wow, what a concept! D’OH!

That was the case when CVS, and Brooks Pharmacy sold Playboy and Penthouse. Thus, the threat of “a good scolding” has been removed. I call that genius. See uk meds pharmacy for related info.

Bruce Black, Somewhere near the magazine rack.

Bruce Black

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