The Realignment of the Sexes

It seems that the needs of men have prompted a new wave of priorities with French magazine publishers who are now waging a war for the affections of men.

They must believe that a rich, untapped market awaits them in earnest.

Elle, the magazine that has come to define chic French femininity, has brought out a version for men in a move being hailed by some as a landmark in male liberation.

Franck Espiasse-Cabau, publisher of Elle, said that ‘the women’s glossy magazine had four hundred thousand male readers, many of whom looked at it over their wives’ shoulders. This showed that the macho Gallic male has thrown off the shackles of oppression and was ready for Elle Man. Men were limited to cars and sport. Now they have got rid of their hang-ups, and they are interested in beauty, fashion, style and haute couture’.

The first edition of Elle Man, which will eventually be bi-monthly, features a style guide that includes advice on hair wax, bracelets and skin care.

Edouard Dutour, the editor of Elle Man, said that the typical reader would be ‘a man who dares to have recreational sex, has the insolence to party, knows that love is a threesome (a couple and a smartphone), goes into his kitchen as though it was a religious place, listens to American rap and discovers a Colombian novel’.

What an outrageous description of his potential reader! The editor must be a man of many parts: visionary, poet, a sexual therapist, and endowed with a rare talent of a fruitcake or a genius.

On the other side of the scale, the seventies soft pornography magazine Lui has re-launched with a thoroughly reconstructed appeal to the man’s man; the delectable English model Georgia May Jagger, in knickers and little else, graces the latest edition.

For the past forty years Lui has dominated the men’s magazine market, offering an unabashed trip to France’s carefree, post-war period before the advent of the dreadfully ill-conceived political correctness.

‘Lui is my last attempt at remaining vaguely masculine, surrounded by naked women on glossy pages,’ wrote editor Frederic Beigbeder, an author and self-styled hedonist. ‘It’s a gallant last stand in memory of this dinosaur, known as the guy – the one who flirted heavily, drunk too much, drove fast, fell in love while talking loudly about politics and waving his little muscular arms about.’

The French have an uncanny way of expressing their most colourful vision by presenting it through well-chosen words in a picturesque dimension that reflects their dreams. A measure of optimism with a poetic licence goes a long way to achieving sometimes what appears to be an unattainable objective.

The release of the two glossies comes after a summer of anxious debate over the state of French manhood, summed up by the author Guillaume Chérel in his book Les hommes sont des maîtresses comme les autres, in which he talks candidly and without reserve about being ‘used’ by his lover. Le Figaro‘s comment was spot on, asking: ‘Are men losing their power in the matter of love?’ 

My own view is that they are. The liberation of women and the advent of political correctness have robbed both sexes of the love initiative that was once part and parcel of the love game. The difference between the sexes has practically vanished. What remains is the physical difference, which again is becoming too close for comfort.

I mourn the days past, when a woman was considered a goddess – to be pampered and admired in equal measure – complementary qualities were the key to a happy and contented life, and where competitiveness in the bedroom was never an issue.

Despite our evolution in most things, the good old days have their merit.

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