Main trends in the textual construction of men in the women’s magazine “Cosmopolitan”

Grete Kempel and Andra Siibak

The aim of the article is to explore how men are represented in the Estonian version of the women’s magazine Cosmopolitan. Content analysis of Cosmopolitan articles from 2005- 2008 was carried out with the aim of studying the topics prevalent in the articles about men and masculinity, and analysing the main trends used in the textual construction of men in the articles. Self-representations of well-known Estonian men whose interviews appeared in the magazine were also studied. The findings of the study indicate that the traits and values associated with hegemonic masculinity mainly appear in the articles of Cosmopolitan. Although the results of the comparative analysis of magazine issues allow us to claim that there are slight changes in the textual constructions of masculinity and manhood, the majority of the articles studied were still built on stereotypical assumptions about men and masculinity. For example, rather than emphasizing the plurality of masculinities, the articles of Cosmopolitan mainly characterized men as very active sexual beings who are totally incapable of being romantic, emotional and communicative. However, the analysis of interviews with well-known Estonian men indicates that the interviewees were far more willing to express values and norms that were formerly not considered to be masculine (e.g., emotions, focus on family). Although the findings of the study illustrate the presence of some shifts in ideas about masculinities, lasting change in values, norms, perceptions and attitudes about masculinity depends on the dominant thought-patterns of the general public and future generations.