My dentist has a basket of magazines in her waiting room, so twice a year I flip through Glamour and Men’s Journal. Both of these magazines chart notions of their respective genders that feel like foreign countries or alien territories to me—curious places to contemplate and maybe interesting to visit, but nowhere that I’d be able to live. They seem to confirm the theory that gender isn’t something inside us. It’s something that we acquire, assume, consume. We seek out our genders, shop for them, subscribe to them, pay $4.95 newsstand price for them.
So I ask myself: If a magazine were tailor-made for my gender orientation, what would it look like? Maybe some fashion spreads like “Boxers, Briefs or… Something Else Entirely?,” “Accessorize with Confidence, Girlfriend,” and “Burn the Business Suit: Ten Alternatives to that Stuffy Patriarchal Uniform.” There would be self-improvement/career development articles like “Command Respect with Flamboyant Arm Gestures,” and “Pitch Variation in Public Speaking: Make It Work for You.” In the exercise/adventure section, how about “Shut the Door and Crank Up the Stereo: Dancing Around the Room for Fitness and Self-Exploration.” Instead of Esquire’s “Women We Love” feature, there’d be “Women We Love, Men We Love, Femme-Boy Role Models We Love, Swishy Line-Backers and Theory Dykes We Love.” The cover interview might feature high-voiced Croatian countertenor cutie Max Emanuel Cencic or FTM porn star Buck Angel or maybe whatever male celebrity happens to be rocking a kilt at the moment. Except Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson would never appear in my magazine – or my universe, preferably.