Cosmo on how to act French, and Men's Health on "hyenas" as the new "cougars."
By Ben Reininga
Each month like clockwork, men's and women's magazines hit the newsstands, bursting with terrible sex and dating advice. And each month, we pick out the worst tips and mock them for your edification.
This month, I trundled out to my mailbox to find my monthly trove of men’s and women’s magazines awaiting. (I try to do this in the dead of night so as not to lose the respect of my neighbors.)
From the stack, I grabbed Cosmopolitan and opened it to a random page about a quarter of the way through. I was hoping to find the table of contents, without having to wade through fifty pages of anemic women in expensive clothes and and perfume ads that make my apartment smell like a flirty mango. In a stroke of luck, I hit it on the first try. My eyes fell on the following:
"I Botoxed My Vagina!"
To which I was all, "Oh-no-you-didddn…" and then was like, "Well, actually you probably did." But I don’t much want to know about it. So I didn’t read it. (If someone wants to email me the highlights, go ahead.)
Instead, I skimmed past the monthly cheat-o-meter — If "your guy" is social and makes less money than you, he’s sleeping with your sister; sorry — and got straight to an article on the death of sex in long-term relationships, and how you can prevent it by acting more like a French woman. (You also get to smoke and eat lots of croissants and stay thin forever.)
"Seduction Secrets French Women Know"
"Part of maintaining mystery is holding back a bit during conversation. While it’s hot to occasionally send a salacious text ('I want you inside me'), it’s often more exciting to be coy… Send a text to your guy thinking in a risqué way without being overtly sexual. (Try a photo of the edge of you bare hip with the message 'Just a preview.') That draws out anticipation and makes him crave you intensely."
A couple things: I’d like to point out that Cosmopolitan magazine is entirely responsible for the sexting trend. Betwixt every harrowing first-person tale of vagina-mismanagement, the editors are urging the young women of America to sext. It’s like they’re pushing for a "Drip chocolate syrup on your nipples" for iPhones. (Pro tip: aspiring web entrepreneurs, invent that app.)
And I’m ambivalent. Express yourself sexually, sure. But remember that on lots of phones, text messages just pop up on the screen. And sometimes, people have conversations with their mothers, bosses, and people they don’t want seeing your possibly chocolate-coated horny messages.
Also: if I ever sent a text message to my boyfriend with a picture of my hip (unlikely) and got back a text that said "I crave you intensely," I’d feel super-odd about it, unless I’d coated said hip with chocolate, at which point I’d assume he was replying directly to the chocolate.
"Americans tend to save sexy extras like nice lingerie and perfume for special occasions. French women incorporate these things into their daily lives — they spend an estimated 20 percent of their income on lingerie."
So, true story: in the hours before Hurricane Irene hit NYC, I spent eighty percent of my checking-account balance on cocktail ingredients, Carr’s crackers, and cured meat products. (In my defense, that was an apocalypse-type-scenario, and I still have shit-tons of crackers.) Even still, perhaps I’m throwing stones from my glass house on this one, but twenty percent? I don't know that I can respect that set of priorities. I mean, having some lacy lace to drape around the ol’ gumbo pot is obviously obviously important, but twenty percent?
"The Look: A sexually charged stare… where you lock eyes for a few seconds, give a little half smile, and then glance away…. It conveys longing, teasing, and a desire to be with him and only him…. and it makes him want to drag you to bed, like, this second."
Leaving aside all the stupid portmanteaus and infographics about leopard print, this is what’s really wrong with with Cosmo. There is nothing wrong with sexually charged stares — they’re great to give and to receive — when you mean them. It all comes apart when you start trying to recreate the nuances of an archetypal French floozy. There’s a decent chance he’ll "drag you to bed," but there’s an equally decent chance you’ll go cross-eyed or look like a psychopath. Either way, sex with your long-term beau shouldn’t involve Method acting.
Also, free tip: last I checked, women, you’re also allowed to initiate sex. So there’s that.
Men’s Health: "The New Rules of Attraction"
On the men’s side of things, the pickings seem abundant at first. Men’s Health Magazine has given us one of those giant omnibus sex lists — "The New Rules of Attraction" — that seems big, confident, and authoritative, just like the dude on the cover. Until you read it. Then, the article seems to vaguely address female empowerment, but with a male-paranoid twist — women are playing a more active role in men's sexual lives, and it’s totally terrifying.
"A 2008 study from the University of Saskatchewan brings an intriguing new double standard to light: Women are now "bringing it" in the bedroom while men may be subject to greater limitations."
Canadian universities provide such a wealth of sexology. I mean, comedy, sexual tips… and sometimes both at once! (Ba-zing!) On a scale of one to five, do you "bring it" in the bedroom — one being "No, I leave it" and five being "abso-flapping-lutely?" (That’s Canadian for "Yes.")
"'Friend' armies of acquaintances and long-lost classmates on Facebook. Falling into the right (or wrong) circle can affect your weight and your career as well as your sex/love life; it's peer pressure dialed up to 11. Fowler [a study author] cites an example of a rampant syphilis outbreak in Atlanta. Authorities broke it by homing in on the sexual leaders of the pack, zipping their flies, and bringing the outbreak to a swift end."
If I taught middle school, I’d use this paragraph as a cautionary tale about topic sentences. Don’t start a paragraph about how "friending" strangers can help you find love, and then tack on a story about "sexual packs" spreading syphilis around the American South — unless it at least has something to do with Facebook.
"A new survey by Trojan reveals that 71 percent of Americans want sex that's more satisfying, and 53 percent of Americans describe their sex lives as depressing, lukewarm, and predictable. The study authors call it a 'pleasure recession.' … Don't wait for the government to act. Take matters into your own hands. Evidence shows that she's primed and ready. Are you?"
Get your hand out my pocket, Big Government — I can stimulate myself! Occupy Ball Street! But seriously, isn’t that first line kind of like saying, "A new study by Pepsi has shown that people want more soda in their lives?"
"Findings from 353 undergraduates (61 percent of them women) suggest that spirituality has a greater association with the sex lives of young women than religion, impulsivity, or alcohol does. In addition to the greater frequency of sex, women who reported having 'connectedness' had more sexual partners."
What does it mean for something to have a "great association" with your sex life? What’s the difference here between spirituality, religion, and connectedness? Are alcohol and impulsivity mutually exclusive? Does this make any goddamn sense? No.
"Jennifer Austin Leigh, Psy.D [has] observed a marked increase of hyena attacks on American men. A hyena, as Dr. Leigh defines it, is analogous to a cougar (the two-legged variety) in terms of sexual aggression. But a hyena is a young woman who preys on young men for sex. The reason for the metaphor: Female spotted hyenas in the bush are more aggressive than their male counterparts. They engage in sexually explicit taunting and force subordinate males to perform oral sex."
Subordinate men. Forced oral sex. Taunting. Hyena attacks. A new sexual revolution has begun, ladies and gentlemen. And it is terrifying.
Maxim: "Be Her Sex Superhero"
"During good foreplay, "You’re never sure exactly what’s going to happen, and that’s incredibly hot."
And that’s where we’re going to leave it this month: in a state of aroused bewilderment. (Or is it bewildered arousal?) Stay tuned for the holidays, but if Cosmo gets to you before I do, keep the candy canes away from your love-stockings.