There’s nothing like hearing what a man is really thinking. And then there’s nothing like a magazine blatantly, and unapologetically, stating “the women that we feature in the magazine are ornamental.”
Alex Bilmes, editor of UK’s Esquire, is such a blatantly honest man.
In London last week during a panel discussion about feminism, Bilmes spoke out about women’s place in Esquire Magazine, which is (no surprise here) “aimed at men, specifically.” Bilmes’ words on the topic slipped off the tongue assured and without an ounce of regret throughout the discussion:
I could lie to you if you want and say we’re interested in their brains as well, but on the whole we’re not. They’re there to be a beautiful object. To be objectified…
What we do is more honest…
The fact is that heterosexual men regard women in many, may ways: they’re our sisters, our daughters our wives, mothers and we do see them as 3-dimensional human beings. But there are certain times we just want to look at them because they’re sexy.”
Needless to say, the world of media, female and male journalists alike, were appalled at Bilmes charmingly subtle approach, that he will likely never live down. But could you say that Bilmes’ words present the truth of how most magazines (and film and television alike) tick, and the truth just isn’t pretty to hear?
Bilmes is honest enough to know that not all women are dumb enough to buy the pitch that “yes, Esquire loves to hear about women’s views on politics and social media.” No, most of them couldn’t care less what we think. You can look at the cover of Esquire and see that, or Maxim, or flip through GQ or Details for that matter. It doesn’t take a scientist to discover this, and hearing it from Bilmes mouth surely isn’t the first time we (any woman who lives on this planet) have been introduced to the idea that certain materials exists as pure sugar cane eye-candy to feed men. Whether or not you think it’s right is entirely another topic, but it should not be a surprise. What exactly did we want to hear from the editor of Esquire of why women exists in their male-targeted magazine? To buy into an idea from a men’s magazine that why every other feature displays a glamazon in teeny, tiny lingerie or bikinis (or what have you) is because of their deep interest and care for the psyche and persona of these female individuals would be a joke, and a degradation of feminism itself.
Obviously the targeted readership of Esquire are not men who read the magazine eager to dive into by the minds and wit of it’s featured women. This should be no surprise to us.
The editors of the US Esquire could lie to us and say that they decided to feature Megan Fox for the cover of the January 2013 issue because of the fascinating opinion on war in the Middle East or her experiences speaking in tongues, but really, who’s the fool if we were sold on that pitch? For decades magazines have featured women for the exact reasons Bilmes explained for Esquire. So why is this so all of the sudden so appalling to us?
One thing can be said for Bilmes, like him or not, I’m sure he will have no communication problems in his marriage.