Why am I covering this you may ask. Simple: because I want to. This is a magazine that I stumbled upon by mistake after finding the publisher’s site by happenstance. It’s not something I’ve ever spotted on store shelves and it comes off as niche, indie-ish publication. The magazine is thick (130 pages) and feels of a high quality in terms of papers. Oh and it’s full of partially nude women as you’ve no doubt guessed. This isn’t a lewd publication though.
Sixty6 magazine slots into a perfect niche. The entire magazine is full-page photos and double-page spreads for the most part. No words and no bullshit “mens” articles that the likes of FHM and Maxim publish (or used to publish in the case of FHM). The only words here are links to the models’ Instagram and Facebook pages and the credits of the photographers. It’s raw and unpretentious and I like it.
On the other hand, this isn’t like one of those cheap lad’s mags such as Nuts or Zoo. Those rags also featured topless, sexy models but being honest, the expressions were usually that of ‘forced’ sexy, the shoots flooded with unnatural light and touched up before printing. Such magazines also came off as a bit seedy and trashy with terrible “advice” and crappy articles on “bloke” stuff that nobody bought the magazines to read in the first place. Here, in Sixty6, the photos are more natural and feature models who want to be there and are enjoying themselves, not necessarily because it’s just another job. The photography is on-point and leans towards the artistic and creative rather than blunt and unispired.
Don’t get me wrong, I bought this random issue from ebay to see what it was about and because it features beautiful women in a state of undress. Let’s not bullshit. However, it’s a clear step above the overtly lewd or tacky alternatives of the past and simply raw and honest in what it is. I’ve seen these sorts of magazines described as “lookbooks” or coffee table fodder. I’m not sure I’d agree with the latter but I’d definitely consider picking up a few more issues. The blurb inside the front cover describes Sixty6 magazine as a “celebration of the female form” and I think that’s a perfect way of putting it.
Last week, social media had it’s latest eruption of outrage (number #7,686,892,213,293,973 to be precise) when Gillette released a new advertisement that focused heavily on the #MeToo movement and so-called toxic masculinity. I use the term “so-called” because I find it good practice to at least question another person or organisation’s definitions rather than blindly accepting them.
The ad [linky, linky] sees a twist on Gillette’s classic “The best a man can get” slogan and asks the question “Is this the best a man can get?”. It goes on to show things like a man grabbing a woman’s arse, a couple of boys play-fighting (with the parents shrugging it off as “boys will be boys”) and some teenagers watching girls in skimpy clothing on TV. Some preachy shit about holding one another accountable and being better blokes in general as well as examples of how we can all achieve this follows. The advert has generated a lot of negativity from the male community with many vowing to not buy Gillette’s products ever again for “insulting” them.
So, as a card-carrying man, do I feel offended by Gillette’s “attack” on my masculinity? No, I don’t, for several reasons. Before I get to those reasons though, I do want to say that companies trying to tell us what it means to be a man or what to do in general can fuck right off. The same goes for the militant feminists who have grasped #MeToo by the horns in a death-grip and abused a worthy cause as a vehicle to shame men for anything that doesn’t fit their agenda and strict requirements. Don’t tell me what to do. I’m well aware that slapping a random woman’s backside is inappropriate as is forcing your partner to live in the kitchen 1950’s style but don’t try to make me feel guilty for following my biological coding and checking out a pretty girl in the street or for reading a “lads” mag.
As one wise philosopher once observed, “I am a man therefore I like breasts and bottoms”.
Gillette however, have nothing to do with my views on this subject. The first reason that their inflammatory advert hasn’t got me steaming at the ears with outrage is because I am secure in my masculinity. I will look at women I find attractive. I will aspire to be a man by my own definitions and metrics, not how a corporation or individual thinks I should live. I will continue to hang a sexy wall calendar up every January and enjoy the twelve pictures guilt-free. I will focus on my own life and progress rather than giving a shit about the judgements of others. I will continue to question myself and my actions and re-evaluate my direction but I will do it myself sans the influence of those who seek to change me.
Sometimes it may seem that certain corners of our society are trying to shame us for simply being blokes but it must be remembered that a vast chunk of what we (wrongly) assume to be facts and “correct” has been presented to us by the media and packaged in a way that suits them. Gillette sticking their oar in and telling us how to live is only possible with the power of TV and the internet. This crap that I dare to call a “blog” is media. So much of what we take to heart and get angry about is fed to us on a plate to encourage views, clicks and ad revenue. In real life, I can honestly – hand on heart – say that I NEVER, ever have to listen to somebody preach to me. In fact, the women in my workplace are more likely to slap you on the arse and are totally fine with harmless, playful flirting. Even they say that all of this super-feminism is a load of rubbish and you know what? We stand as equals, get paid equally and don’t think any less of one another because of sex.
We rib them for always complaining about being cold or gassing about pointless gossip and they rib us back for being shit at multitasking or obsessed with sports. Importantly, we ALL have a laugh about it and know that no malice or derogatory subtext was involved. The key thing is to know your boundaries and what is/isn’t sensible. Only a moron would attempt to speak lewdly to a woman that they don’t know at all for example and if they get called out on it then they deserve the consequences.
The point is, you shouldn’t correllate what TV and the internet shows you with reality. The outrage-fuelled headlines warp our brains and subtly redefines our perception of right and wrong. In the same way that I have no time for hardcore, angry feminists, I have no time for the daft notions that some blokes have. The idea that all women are out to enslave and castrate us for example or that we should waste our time getting angry about a Gillette advert. Wise up and stop playing into their hands. By tweeting your fury, all you have achieved is more exposure for the advert (which was currently sitting in excess of twenty-four million views at the time of me writing this…) and their brand.
This brings me nicely to my second point. The marketing people at Gillette aren’t stupid. An advertisement like this would have been re-worked countless times and would have to have been signed off by company bigwigs. In short, they KNEW that this would generate controversy and mass exposure for the Gillette brand while also earning them a ton of praise from the SJW camp. It has been an all-round winning situation for them and any man that believes Gillette will go down like the Titanic or suffer commercially at all for daring to tell their consumer base how to act needs to think again. There is no such thing as bad publicity as they say. I can’t be offended by an advert like this because in doing so I would be being played like a fiddle.
I will end this post by pointing out that there is a distinct whiff of hypocrisy about Saint Gillette and their “message” however. A particularly strong odour in fact. After all, this is the company that came out with a range of women’s razors and coloured them Barbie-pink so clearly they know all about feminism and #MeToo.
Oh and another example of their work…
Bottom row, fifth from the left is my favourite. Go on and shoot me.
It’s been a few days since I posted anything here on this fledgling blog but life has happened and work has been extra tiring. The diarrhoea-like river of excrement that is the news continues to flow in the meantime however and the number of “stories” (let’s not give them too much credibility) that I’d like to analyse has began to back up like a blocked toilet clogged with an ever-increasing volume of the nasty brown stuff.
Unsavoury metaphors aside, one of the more dumb stories that cropped up on my radar was that of an American radio station electing to pull the Christmas song “Baby it’s Cold Outside” from their playlist due to an apparent unsuitability in today’s hyper-sensitive #metoo landscape. Other Christmas songs that were written/performed in the past have now been put under the microscope and over-analysed by those who are determined to play dot-to-dot and create those tenuous links and daft interpretations from songs that are products of their time.
I do want to quickly point out that this is another of those stories that the media love to publish in order to wind up a certain demographic and get them to keep clicking away or buying newspapers. I know this and I suppose that giving this shit even more exposure by talking about it is a bit hypocritical but I feel like looking at the facts and quotes from these headlines and applying some proper logic to them.
Let’s start with the Christmas song that has stirred up the keyboard warriors and Twitter superstars the most shall we? For decades, there was nothing and suddenly “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” is one of the great evils of the music world; a song that apparently tells the story of a man pressuring a woman into sex. As quoted from the BBC’s website:
In particular, the line “Say what’s in this drink?/No cabs to be had out there” has led people to make a link with date rape.
So this is also (apparently) a song about date rape and drugged alcoholic drinks. The problem with this above quote is that phrase “led people to make a link”. We can make links between anything and everything if we wanted to. This is a simple case of people taking a product of the past out of its time and complaining that it doesn’t conform to modern expectations which – honestly – can be done with anything at all from history. What next? Does “Driving Home for Christmas” suggest an irresponsible decision to drive in dangerous, wintry conditions? Does any Christmas song to do with Santa condone lying to your children? Loose comparisons I know but seriously.
How about this: listen to a classic Christmas song and just take it for what it is. When did every single thing need to be looked at it minute detail and constantly reviewed every few years to see if it remains “acceptable”? Any such analysis that includes phrases such as “seems to suggest…” or “could be interpreted as…” is automatically bullshit of the highest order in my book. Far-fetched conclusions being conjured up in the minds of those who simply MUST find something to be offended about. Unless of course I’m talking out of my ass and hearing a song like Baby, it’s Cold Outside IS slowly warping my brain and installing a subconscious instruction to lure females in from the cold so that I can rape them. See how stupid it sounds? I believe that there are three reasons why a story like this even becomes a (undeserving) ‘thing’ in the first place:
The fear of offending people. Weak, easily bowed people decide that it is safer to remove material deemed potentially offensive before anybody can make some crazy links and bring negative press down on the organisation.
Virtue signalling. Loudly and proudly condemning something that COULD be deemed offensive in the minds of a small minority in order to become the white knight and latest champion of the #metoo or similar movements.
The social media echo chamber. A few people think that they are hot shit for ‘discovering’ something they believe could possibly be offensive or disempowering. Others re-tweet and show their support (from the safe anonymity of their keyboard/smartphone screen) subsconsciously feeling that they are being fashionable by doing so.
I am always open to be proven wrong or have my view changed by solid facts. Not interpretations, not theories and not suggestions. Just concrete facts, figures and evidence. That said, I feel extremely confident when I say that I do not, for a second, believe that when Frank Loesser wrote the song in 1944, there was the intention to promote rape. There is nothing to say that the male in the song intends to force himself on the female if she continues to refuse his advances. There is nothing wrong with suggestion or displaying amorous feelings to somebody of the opposite sex in a private situation if the other party seems like they could be up for it. That’s how we actually get somewhere in our love/sex lives. Of course, should Person B firmly refuse then Person A must repect their decision.
If this song is guilty of anything then maybe – at a push – it is a guy ignoring a girl’s soft rejections and continuing to try his luck, edging closer and closer to that grey area where natural, lusty advances become coercion and potentially rape. But I don’t hear that. I hear a playful, slightly sexy song that is probably just being a bit naughty. You aren’t supposed to rip it apart and publish an enormous thesis on how it condones this and that. Perhaps the critics ought to take a look a little closer to home because modern lyrics have been glorifying far worse in a much bolder manner for some time now. If anything is going to be a threat to an easily impressionable younger generation then it might be the stuff that they – y’know – actually listen to?
I was shocked to read (when doing a quick bit of research) that this song has been the subject of much debate and criticism for more than a decade. Conveniently in the month(s) of December of course because it’s such an issue that nobody cares once it’s no longer Christmas and the song doesn’t have to be aired anyway. My point being that there have been many, many other analysis’ and discussions about Baby, it’s Cold Outside and the perceived implications of its lyrics written with greater finesse than mine. These are just my rough and raw thoughts on the subject. I listen to the song and don’t hear what some people are condemning. Maybe that makes me a lesser person for not trying to hear beyond the surface but guess what? I don’t really give a fuck.
Another song that was criticised (amongst several) was Band Aid’s “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” for apparently enforcing an image that Africa is a needy continent reliant on the handouts of more developed Western states in order to survive. Bob Geldof’s answer to the critics was “It’s a pop song, not a doctoral thesis”. Well said, Bob. We are constantly made to feel guilty by charity ad campaigns and asked to donate money to causes in third-world countries where people are legitimately dying from poor sanitation and the wars of others but it seems that doing the decent thing and helping is also allegedly demeaning. Putting aside the fact that terrible sanitation, terrorism and constant uncivilised warring ARE factual blights on many innocent Africans, this bizarre logic of being incorrect whatever we do/think can fuck right off. Another prime example of desperately looking for offence where there isn’t any and keyboard warriors eager to seek out a vaporous injustice.
In summary: stop fucking reading too much into songs and presuming that your personal interpretations are the correct interpretations of everybody because they aren’t.
At the time of writing, this is an admittedly “old” story but it’s things like this that encouraged me to create this blog in the first place so I couldn’t resist analysing such a ridiculous news item. It is of course, one of many daily attempts by the BBC to wind up right-wing readers and keep them at war with left-wing liberals in the interests of generating clicks and ad revenue. Nevertheless, the quotes from the article are real as crazy as they may sound.
For those outside of the UK, M&S (Marks & Spencer) are a large high-street retailer often placed in the supermarket sector in direct competition with the likes of Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s etc. but are considered a cut above when it comes to the quality of their food and clothing. Naturally, the price tags are in line with the additional quality and there are many who will happily brand the M&S shopper a “snob” or say that they must be “getting paid too much” if they do their shopping there. Stupid assumptions and insta-judgments of course but hey, no surprise there.
Anyway, a photograph of a store display in Nottingham which advertised suits for men and lingerie for women was posted up on a Facebook group called “Feminists Friends Nottingham” and the ensuing outrage was typical of our easily-offended society in 2018 where conclusions are leapt toward in a microsecond and bizarre interpretations attempt to overcomplicate everything. For a prime example of reading far too much into a fucking window display, check out what one female interviewee gave the BBC (who must have been rubbing their hands together in glee):
“Ok, M&S Nottingham, have we really not learned anything in the last 35 years? Or am I alone in finding this, their major window display, completely vomit inducing?”
“I also feel very, very strongly about the representation of women as being preoccupied with fancy little knickers, whereas men are presented as powerful and needing to be impressive.
“I don’t have a problem with people choosing to wear whatever they want to wear, I just feel like the juxtaposition is what’s grossly, grossly offensive.
“We are surrounded by sexual images of both men and women. M&S are not by any means the only offenders but that particular window just epitomises everything that’s wrong with current marketing and how far backwards we’ve gone.”
First of all, I have to say that “vomit-inducing” is a fucking extreme reaction to this. If the particular individual in question feels that ill after looking at a photograph of a window display then I dread to think how they will cope with seeing something truly sickening.
I do understand where her core displeasure at M&S’s advertising is coming from but last time I checked, it was completely normal for men to buy suits and women to buy fancy knickers. Should we be hiding sexy lingerie at the back of the store in a dark corner like a dirty secret? When women purchase underwear a step above the basic variety, it isn’t solely to impress the man in their life in the bedroom; it’s also because it makes them feel attractive. Men don’t just buy suits to impress the ladies: they also want to feel smart and look well-presented.
If you thought the above was an overreaction then get a load of this:
Another post, from a man, said the window display was “far too provocative and rapey”.
“It is not the right sort of message especially during this current season when people drink more and their filters are thrown out of the window,” he wrote.
I struggled to wrap my head around this one. A window display advertising underwear for women being sexist might have made some sort of warped sense but to suggest it promotes rape is flat-out laughable and plain daft. And what exactly does getting merry over the seasonal period have to do with this anyway? Is he suggesting that a woman is more likely to be raped after a few drinks if the man finds that she’s wearing an M&S bra? Because that means that she must have been “well up for it”? I don’t even know what sort of nutty angle this guy was coming from and I’m not convinced that this is even a legitimate quote.
There was one more feminist reaction reported on the BBC’s news site:
“As a feminist and a mother to a young daughter I felt embarrassed that I had to yet again explain why women are depicted with so little respect,” she said.
“When companies insist on men being fully clothed and women showcasing lingerie only, it sends a message about women’s place in society as objects to titillate.”
A perfect example of somebody seeing insinuations and subliminal messages and blowing them out of proportion. Women buy lingerie. M&S are advertising lingerie to women. It really isn’t any more complicated than that. Yes, the men have a display of suits but must we really over-analyse every window display as it is being constructed and painstakingly pump it full of equality just to prevent people seeing offence and subtle suppression in every single bloody thing? As I have already pointed out, fancy knickers and bras don’t exist solely for the benefit of men and this window display doesn’t actually try and suggest otherwise. M&S aren’t sending out messages. They are simply providing and advertising what women want to buy, whatever the motivation behind the purchase is.
Thankfully – in this case at least – M&S have confirmed that they won’t be making any changes to their store window displays in light of the complaints and I salute them for not immediately caving beneath a bit of social media pressure as countless other retailers tend to.