As my Facebook friends know, I had a trying afternoon at the doctor's office yesterday -- I had to wait an hour past my scheduled appointment time just to get into the office, and another 20 minutes in the examining room before the doctor strolled in, sans apology. Which is grist for a whole 'nother post, about my so far fruitless search for a healthcare provider that actually provides me with useful healthcare. But anyway.
While I was stewing in the waiting room, I tried to distract myself by reading magazines. As it so happened, the only ones in my vicinity were women's magazines -- Redbook, Ladies' Home Journal and Woman's Day. I've not paid attention to any of these in years, so I thought it might be instructive to learn what's up with the popular culture these days as it relates to (presumably) straight women.
First of all I found out about a kind of sanitary napkin one puts in one's pants in order to "go commando" in a hygenic fashion: "No more panty lines!" Because I guess panty lines are so horrible that going commando is a preferable state of affairs. Ecch, I thought. What is the matter with these people?
Then I moved on to a fascinating article, written by a male psychotherapist, on the perennial women's-mag topic of How To Keep Your Man. This therapist gave a number of handy hints for mind-canoodling husbands -- who, according to him, are a kind of hairy, smelly, clumsy subhuman creature less self-aware or socially skilled than the average bare-assed baboon -- into feeling loved and valued. He cited the example of a client who came to him complaining that her husband made a theatrical production out of bringing shopping bags in from the car and loading them on the dining room table, grunting and heaving as he did so. He said that, back in the caveman days, men had the job of hauling the mastodon back to the tribe; contemporary men don't have this opportunity for proving their ability to provide for their families, so women need to find ways to affirm male prowess in bringing home the bacon, the mastodon, et al -- even if it means feigning stunned admiration and gratitude as Hubs hauls in the Trader Joe's bags: "Oh, you're so strong and helpful! You're my big daddy! What would I ever do without you?" (My advice to any men reading this blog is to read your wives' magazines. You will be shocked at how badly you come off as a gender.) Oh, for God's sake, I thought. If Fellow Traveler or I ever acted that way toward one another one of us would be on the phone with Community Mental Health asking about emergency psych evaluations.
Next I found a heartwarming tale of fashionista Carson Cressley coming to the makeover aid of two large women who felt ugly and unloved Because, of course, the subtext hissed, no one wants to be with a fat cow like all you pathetic heifers reading this article...a point made clear by the fact that the dapper Mr. Cressley rated an almost-full-page color photo, while the the photos of the women in question, even in their "after" attire, were tiny thumbnails buried in the text of a subsequent page. I rolled my eyes; Yeah; that's affirming.
And then of course we had the disease-or-crime-of-the-month-hysteria articles -- how this often-ignored symptom or that bit of mishandled household hygiene, or that unknown psychopath weirdo down the street can kill you, so you'd better be very, very scared all the time. Oh, give me a break.
The recipes were not enough to redeem the crap all around them.
Speaking of which...if the magazine industry is following the rest of the print media industry down the toilet in this digital age, then please flush the women's magazines first.