In November 2003, Maxim Magazine, an international male-centric entertainment publication, put out an article in their “How To” section entitled “Cure a Feminist.” It came complete with a 4-step process on how to turn an “unshaven, militant, protesting vegan into an actual girl!” It also contained a pictorial progression of girls going from clothed (“feminist”) to half-naked (“actual girl”). The text gives advice to men about how to date or bed a “feminist,” giving tips on how to ask interesting questions that would interest feminists. It also tells men how to “teach” the girl they are dating to be more “moderate than the combat-boot variety” of feminists by giving her some options to “think differently.”
What are the negative connotations about feminism and feminists that Maxim exploits in this article? What are the stereotypes of feminists that Maxim assumes readers (and society as a whole) have?
Conversely, what are the stereotypes of an “actual girl”? How are these stereotypes portrayed in the ad itself? Consider both the visuals and text.
Why do you think Maxim feels like feminists need to be “cured”? Why is feminism here portrayed as a “disease” that needs “curing”? What does this say about the assumed perspectives of its male readership?
This Maxim entry reinforces a normative and unjust representation of femininity, not only dictating what “feminine” should be, but also insisting that men must “teach” women how to be women. This leaves the act of defining sexuality and looks in the realm of male domination rather than the autonomy and empowerment of women. By attacking feminists, Maxim subtly and subliminally attacks women’s rights to not conform to a patriarchal order.