The NYTimes Asks: Are Men’s Magazines Disowning Men?

Playboy in November 1980.

From a New York Times story, by Alex Williams, titled “As Men Are Canceled, So Too Their Magazine Subscriptions”:

The boys’ club of glossy publishing confronts an identity crisis.

Imagine if Kodak had answered the threat of digital photography by pivoting from film to outdoor grills. Imagine if Blockbuster had taken on the challenge from Netflix by shifting from DVDs to fast food. Imagine if men’s magazines stared down the post-#MeToo manpocalypse by disowning men.

Maybe the last one isn’t so hypothetical?

. . . .bro bibles like GQ, Esquire and Playboy seem poised to do a backpedal of Michael Jackson moonwalk proportions from the formula that kept them perched at the publishing pinnacle for a half-century.

Namely, being a print version of your father, offering up bourbon-breathed tutorials on the arts of tie knotting, fly casting, and skirt chasing.

In the gender tornado of 2019, men’s magazines, it seems, are canceling themselves. . . .

Even Playboy, mired in identity crisis since dial-up modems, is suddenly woke.

The magazine has rechristened its Bunnies as “brand ambassadors,” and even embarked on a short-lived experiment to cut out the nudes. . . .

Change is also afoot at Esquire, the tweediest of the men’s titles, which for decades carried a whiff of dad’s old cedar chest full of pocketknives and Mickey Mantle baseball cards. . . .

Details is done. Maxim has evolved its identity from a frat-house must-read to a cosmopolitan lifestyle magazine, an about-face that began under a female editor and fashion veteran, Kate Lanphear, who departed in 2015. . . .

We’ve come a long way from Gloria Steinem decrying “The Moral Disarmament of Betty Coed” thanks to the Pill in Esquire in 1962, to Hannah Gadsby, a lesbian comedian, taking aim at “hypermasculine man-babies” in GQ’s “New Masculinity” issue.

Haven’t we?

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