Gender and race

Essay by rudog February 2005

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Scanning the racks of magazines at Borders, many common themes appear. Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey seem to be the hottest couple, The Sopranos seems to be the hottest television show, the 9/11 hearings are the hottest thing in politics, and Mel Gibson takes the helm as the leader of almost every other category. It was difficult to find a magazine which incorporated none of these, but they are out there. Searching for evidence of gender roles and racial ideals is shown blatantly on the cover of almost every single issue of every magazine on the racks. Magazines aimed towards men have sexy, skin showing women on the cover like this months Maxim with Marge Simpson showing her erotic side. It doesn't really matter what's inside, or if the feature is about a cartoon character, if the cover is not sexy enough, might as well keep the inside blank. For women it is slightly different, yes some of the covers have hunks like Nick Lachey bearing his chest, but many have covers like this months Entertainment Weekly asking the question, "Are Sitcoms Dead?" clearly showing a slight but significant difference in the wants and needs of gender roles in choice of magazines.

To properly clarify and analyze the roles of gender and race in our society, what could be better than a good old fashioned Playboy? Playboy has always been "entertainment for men", but in its fifty plus year tenure on the shelves it has become a cultural symbol with many messages. Playboy is much more than the classic pornographic magazine. Of course we all have memories of pulling a stack out from under the bed from when we probably didn't even know what sex was, but today Playboy is an insight to American culture and to the gender and...