My husband comes home from another late night event and casually tosses a new men’s magazine on the bed before stripping off his dapper pin-striped suit and collapsing onto his feather pillow. He’s asleep within minutes. It’s nearly 2am and too late for me to put said magazine on the book shelf or coffee table so I just kick it from under my haven of covers until it falls on the floor.
The next day, it turns up on the patio table and I have to say, it looks pretty fancy. In our line of work, we are often given free products to review and possibly endorse in some way. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen a few new cutting edge men’s magazines and been asked to give our feedback. This one looks pretty nice. Clean lines, oversize, nice matte finish. I flip through the pages to see if it looks as nice inside as it does on the cover. Not bad. Nice inspiring pics of metropolitan homes, refinished to blend rustic with contemporary. Urban Candyland.
I decide not to toss it and set it aside for a more careful look-through later on. We’re at the beach house and the weather is heavenly. I’ve just recovered from a nasty bout of God-knows-what and I can finally enjoy the day after my usual morning clean up. (Everyone knows, you can’t relax unless the house is spotless. Achem.) Moving on.
I tidy the deck and pick up the mag (or “zine” as the hipsters say) and bring it inside to give it a peruse while I wait for the kettle to boil. Well laid out and with good writing, from the looks of it. Some good spreads with fashion advice for the man on the edge. I snicker as I imagine Paul in orange skinny jeans with a purple scarf of some kind. All in all though, it looks pretty good so far . . . until I get to the middle.
Why the HECK am I seeing a scantily-clad woman on a motorcycle? Oh, wait, there’s more. Next page: Five women in string bikinis looking very naughty and then . . . nice. I won’t bother describing the rest. To put the cherry on the top, so to speak, the footer indicates this was a charity bikini photo shoot.
Which charity are you raising money for, you bunch of blind Neanderthal fools?! Maybe I should email you the number for A21 or Ratanak or another group who are out busting their butts every day to rescue young women who have been sold into sexual slavery. Wouldn’t that be IRONIC.
I firmly place the zine on the foot of the bed and let out a growl-like sigh. Paul asks me what’s wrong and I can’t speak. I’m trying to decide who my first target’s going to be.
While I’m getting changed and ready for my awesome day, I’m praying, Jesus, help me to see what You see and show me if/what/how to respond to this. I remember the tattoo on my forearm. “For the sake of Zion, I will not keep silent.” Then, I remember that the best way to lead someone or someones out of a bad place is to inspire them to be something better.
I realize that a Facebook rant might garner a bunch of “Amen’s” and possibly a few contrary points of view but, in the end, I don’t need to get people who already agree with me to continue agreeing with me. The people who think this kind of objectification is fine won’t hear me, and the people who hate it but struggle and find themselves browsing porn at 3am are only going to feel defensive and shamed.
Screaming at the masses that they are all wrong doesn’t affect change. Showing them that there is a better way might.
I set myself on fire and they come to watch me burn.
So this gets me to thinking, What could a men’s magazine do to “turn men on” that doesn’t involve defiling their soul and leading them down a path that actually leads them away from their true calling and identity as men?
It’s tough. Every page of the magazine hosts a different photograph or editorial, each one geared to inspire in some way, albeit mainly on a superficial level. I can see that’s how sex gets involved. But it’s an illusion—a fantasy, and a powerful one at that. It offers satiation to a deep desire that rests in the heart of a man that often isn’t being met in the real world.
The thrill that comes from spreads like this doesn’t last. It’s like throwing a piece of paper on a fire and watching it burst immediately into flame, only to burn out as quickly as it ignited. There are coals smouldering in our hearts that are destined—longing—to be fanned into an unquenchable fire. To be fed by timbre that brings on a lingering, growing firestorm. I’ve never met a person who didn’t want to change the world, if they ever thought it possible.
So, here’s my challenge. I’m laying it down for anyone who has the courage to take it up: Find something that will inspire you and inspire others in a life-long way. If you’re publishing a magazine filled with how-to articles and geared to get people dreaming, why not make your apex an article that reminds your readers of their hidden strength? Or, if you’re a reader, find something that makes you come alive. Not just a momentary, passing arousal that will burn out as quickly as it came upon you. I’m talking about the thing that wakes you up and sets you on a path that will change things—a path that will take you to a place where you’ve longed to be all your life—a place where you are empowered to ease people’s pain.
Gauntlet thrown. Check.
Add sell-out magazine to the stack of burnables. Check.
It’s your move.