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Are cooking magazines sexist?

PotatoHouse Dec 12, 2012 03:54 PM

My wife gave me a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine two years ago (I just renewed it) and I buy Food Network magazine more often than not and I have noticed in both that ALL advertising is aimed toward women despite the large number of male cooks and professional chefs. It really iritates me in Food Network magazine considering they have as many male chefs on their network as they do female (if not more).
Do any of you guys feel "ignored" when it comes to the cooking magazines you buy, or am I alone in this?

  1. f
    FattyDumplin Dec 14, 2012 09:17 AM

    What may be an interesting question is who is actually reading magazines... My wife subscribes to Parent Magazine, but I actually read it as well. I'm assuming in the database, the readership shows up as 1 female, as opposed to 1 male / 1 female. But my guess is that even with the "shadow" male readers, the female population far outweighs the male popultion.

    1 Reply
    1. re: FattyDumplin
      John Francis Dec 15, 2012 11:44 AM

      I understand that magazines, at least the ones with a large circulation, take secondary readers into account in their statistics. How they do this, I don't know.

    2. f
      FattyDumplin Dec 14, 2012 09:14 AM

      "large number" doesn't really mean anything from a statistical standpoint. my guess is that they analyze their client base and their readership is overwhelmingly female. so yes, while the absolutel number of male cooks has skyrocketed, that was off of a low base and the percentages are still skewed heavily female. all this is my speculation, but i would imagine one then has to calculate the value of running all "female" ads and potentially alienating the male clientele, or running more "male" ads, which potentially annoys the even larger population female clientele.

      i think the perfect parallel is the NFL, where female viewership has skyrocketed, but is still dwarfed by the male population. And there is a paucity of "female" targeted ads. Nor do I want to see them when I am watching football.

      1. j
        John Francis Dec 14, 2012 09:09 AM

        These magazines know who their readers are. So do their advertisers. It's not a social or political issue.

        1. Veggo Dec 13, 2012 05:49 PM

          Sexist is not a PC word, but cooking magazines are not surprisingly oriented to a female viewership. I have one guest bathroom outfitted with cooking magazines, dried smell-good stuff, candles, and the seat is always down. I have another bathroom with recent issues of Guns & Ammo, an ashtray for cigars, and the seat is always up.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Veggo
            GH1618 Dec 13, 2012 09:26 PM

            Now that's sexist, assuming that men want the seat left up.

            1. re: GH1618
              ipsedixit Dec 13, 2012 09:31 PM

              I thought that one was for the women? No? Don't women all read Guns & Ammo?

              1. re: ipsedixit
                Bacardi1 Dec 14, 2012 08:39 AM

                No, silly - they read "Garden & Gun".


                1. re: Bacardi1
                  paulj Dec 14, 2012 08:58 AM

                  Krispy Krème Brûlée

              2. re: GH1618
                Veggo Dec 14, 2012 05:22 AM

                I prefer that men who do functions that require the seat to be down, do so before they arrive, or after they depart from my home. Men are nasty, noisy, smelly critters. It's enough that I have to tolerate myself.

                1. re: Veggo
                  GH1618 Dec 14, 2012 05:25 AM

                  You are missing the point. Putting the seat and the lid down is a matter of tidyness, not function.

                  1. re: GH1618
                    Veggo Dec 14, 2012 05:36 AM

                    But lifting the seat requires TOUCHING it. I prefer not to.

                    1. re: Veggo
                      kengk Dec 14, 2012 05:47 AM

                      Amen, we had ONE guy at work that insisted on putting the lid down.

              3. re: Veggo
                MGZ Dec 15, 2012 11:50 AM

                What's a seat?

              4. h
                hetook Dec 13, 2012 05:21 PM

                Too many mags r aimed @ the suburban mom in Pleasantville. ..maybe I don't get to right newstand?..

                1. w
                  Wawsanham Dec 13, 2012 07:09 AM

                  Well, isn't the important part the recipes or articles? That info is useful for anyone interested in cooking, I suppose. Who cares about the ads. Besides, even skin care product ads theoretically for females have useful information for men. Try to relate as a human being, maybe, not as a man.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: Wawsanham
                    BiscuitBoy Dec 13, 2012 09:01 AM

                    Yes! I've always said the ads in Maxim and Hustler are geared for men AND women

                    1. re: Wawsanham
                      Chemicalkinetics Dec 13, 2012 10:45 AM

                      <even skin care product ads theoretically for females have useful information for men>

                      I am told actually men require more skin product than women -- because a man's skin is more delicate. It is just that women worry more about their skin.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        ipsedixit Dec 13, 2012 10:46 AM

                        ... and most men care more about women's skin as well.

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          Chemicalkinetics Dec 13, 2012 10:49 AM

                          <most men care more about women's skin as well>

                          You mean most men care more about women's skin than men's skin, right? Yes, that is pretty normal because most men usually do not look at other men. Let's face it. Women look at other women. Men don't look at other men. (typically speaking). I don't remember the last time I heard a man say to another man: "Your skin looks so nice". Now, I hear that almost daily (certainly weekly) from women talk to each others.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            BiscuitBoy Dec 13, 2012 10:57 AM

                            "typically" HA! Brace for impact

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                              MagicMarkR Dec 13, 2012 04:52 PM

                              If you are actually looking to one-page advertisments on skin products geared towards women found in a cooking magazine to get information about men's skin care then you are really lost. And also at the wrong website.

                              1. re: MagicMarkR
                                Chemicalkinetics Dec 13, 2012 05:10 PM

                                It would be so awesome though.

                      2. b
                        beevod Dec 13, 2012 07:01 AM

                        I do feel "ignored," and, to compensate, I read "Soldier of Fortune."

                        1. h
                          Harters Dec 13, 2012 04:54 AM

                          Flicking through the current edition of Delicious magazine, I'd say the vast majority of adverts don't feature people and, as such, are not linked to gender at all. I've never really felt that, as a man, I'm being excluded from advertising. But, then, I don't really give stuff for the adverts.

                          1. cowboyardee Dec 12, 2012 10:52 PM

                            In Saveur, the only cooking mag I read much, the ads seem not to have a particular gender in mind. Most are for travel destinations, cooking supplies, and foodstuffs. True, the hand touching the dial on the new Kitchenaid oven appears to be female, but that might just be because it's less distracting than a hairy man's forearm.

                            Why the difference between Saveur and the other cooking mags? I don't really know, but I'd hazard a guess that Saveur has more male readers. Why's that? Again I don't really know.

                            1. paulj Dec 12, 2012 10:32 PM

                              Are you claiming that the magazine is sexist, or that the advertisers are? I suspect the magazine takes most anyone who wants to advertise, and that the advertisers (or ad agencies) pay a lot of attention to the magazine reader demographics.

                              I have some old copies of BA. Most of those ads were for cookware, cigs, spirits, and a few luxury cars. Not nearly as female oriented as the Good House Keeping mags that my mom used to get, nor as male oriented as the Popular Science mags that I got.

                              As for the many male chefs, I doubt if they read BA much, unless they are being featured.

                              1. ipsedixit Dec 12, 2012 09:54 PM

                                Now you know how the other sex feels when reading the SI Swimsuit Issue.

                                1. b
                                  brirock Dec 12, 2012 09:38 PM

                                  It's not just advertising either - I often read Cooking Light and in every issue there is a page featuring cosmetics/lotions, etc. in whatever the "flavor of the month" is.

                                  I am female, but my dad taught me to cook and is the ultimate chef in our family!

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: brirock
                                    Chemicalkinetics Dec 12, 2012 09:50 PM

                                    <my dad taught me to cook and is the ultimate chef in our family>

                                    Yes, and I am sure a lot of men are great cooks. Does your dad subscribes Cooking Light? 84% of Cooking Light readers are females. 84 vs 16. This is more than 5-fold. When 84% of your readers are women, it would be "unrealistic" to pretend you have a 50:50 audience.

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                      brirock Dec 12, 2012 10:03 PM

                                      He does, actually. Just something I've noticed in the magazine, no extreme social commentary intended :)

                                      1. re: brirock
                                        Chemicalkinetics Dec 12, 2012 10:20 PM

                                        :) Oh I see. Well, your dad is a minority then.

                                        Here is some information if you are interested
                                        Food Network: 90% Female
                                        Cooking Light: 84% Female
                                        Bon Appetit: 74% Female
                                        Cook's Illustrated: 61% Female

                                        Chef Magazine: 62% Male

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                          kengk Dec 13, 2012 05:28 AM

                                          I wonder how those statistics are compiled? The only magazine we get that has any cooking content is Southern Living, maybe 20% is related to food. The subscription is in my wife's name. Am I being counted as a reader?

                                          Their advertising is mainly geared towards women.

                                          1. re: kengk
                                            Chemicalkinetics Dec 13, 2012 06:41 AM

                                            I guess the magazine collect the information when people subscribed to them. That is certainly one way, but like you said, there is a problem with this.

                                            Or they do what pollsters do, they call/contact their subscribes and select a small sample ~100-200 people to get an idea of readership. Is the subscriber the only, reader? Who else read the magazine, what are their the age, gender, income...etc.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                              FoodPopulist Dec 13, 2012 11:04 AM

                                              In this age of data mining, they probably have info on other purchases by people who subscribe to the magazine.

                                              1. re: FoodPopulist
                                                Chemicalkinetics Dec 13, 2012 11:08 AM

                                                That is certainly a better way than I have put it.

                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                        GH1618 Dec 13, 2012 10:51 AM

                                        I buy Cooking Light more than any other food mag, and never have given a moment's thought to a possible sex bias (I am male). I don't know that the magazine editors are pretending anything. They no doubt report their demographic (as far as they know it) to prospective advertisers, who then choose whether to place an ad. So I think your analysis is correct. If the demographic is 84% female, there will be much advertising of interest only to females. That doesn't affect my decision to buy a copy.

                                        1. re: GH1618
                                          Chemicalkinetics Dec 13, 2012 10:55 AM

                                          <That doesn't affect my decision to buy a copy.>

                                          Certainly not. I just want to say that a magazine with a 84% female readership will not have a 50:50 advertizement ratio. So I think I just want to say that it is not sexist. It is what it is -- simply marketing and business strategy. Most video game players are male, so you and I will find more male orienated advertisements in a video game magazine.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                            GH1618 Dec 13, 2012 10:59 AM

                                            I won't find any at all, since I never read such stuff.

                                    2. Chemicalkinetics Dec 12, 2012 04:32 PM

                                      I don't know if it is sexist. Advertisement is advertisement. Someone decided that the readers for these two magazines fit their markets. It is whoever they want to target their audience. Keep in mind that these two magazines are not really selling cooking techniques, but about life styles. To me, sexist is judging someone's ability based on their gender, and this is not the case.

                                      <considering they have as many male chefs on their network as they do female (if not more)>

                                      While this may be true, it isn't about who are on show, but who read the magazine. Advertisements on a dog magazine do not sell to the dogs, but the dog owners who read the magazine. Companies are not trying sell their products to the chefs, but to the readers. We know for sure that most readers of these magazines are indeed women, by a huge margin too. In fact, most the Chow readers are also women.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                        MagicMarkR Dec 12, 2012 04:52 PM

                                        Interestingly (maybe), ever since BA changed editors-in-chief from Barbara Fairchild to Adam Rapoport, the magazine has been redesigned to look more like Vogue, or some other fashion magazine and less like a solid food/cooking magazine.

                                        1. re: MagicMarkR
                                          nlgardener Dec 12, 2012 05:02 PM

                                          I agree. BA has jumped the shark. I discontinued my subscription before Fairchild's departure but was " gifted" with it once again when Gourmet tanked and my subscription was switched to BA. Can't end soon enough.

                                          1. re: nlgardener
                                            MagicMarkR Dec 13, 2012 04:37 PM

                                            Me too, but in a different way. It was all set to expire when my mom told me she had renewed the subscription as a gift. Sigh. Well it is the thought that counts. I even think Gourmet went downhill (before tanking) and started to look more like a artsy photography magazine with a focus on food rather than a food magazine with yummy pictures.

                                      2. g
                                        GH1618 Dec 12, 2012 04:02 PM

                                        I hardly ever buy that, but I found one issue from 2009. It has a few cosmetics advertisements in it. It never occurred to me to have an opinion on the possibility of "sexist" bias, and it still doesn't. I don't care what advertisements are in any food magazine I buy, because I buy one only for a particular article or recipe.

                                        1. s
                                          Sherri Dec 12, 2012 03:59 PM

                                          I think that you have chosen two examples that absolutely do target a female audience. The upwardly-mobile housewife = Bon Appetit. Just look at the advertizing. It is "shelter magazine" with an emphasis on living/food. FN magazine is geared towards the many female viewers of the shows (and day-to-day household cooks). Choose a more serious publication, Fine Cooking or Saveur, and you will not find the same gender bias.

                                          Professional chefs will likely read Food Arts since it is geared to the profession.

                                          1. Bacardi1 Dec 12, 2012 03:58 PM

                                            I'm female, but I know where you're coming from.

                                            While it's true that yes, there are many, many, many professional male chefs these days - as well as serious male home cooks - it's also still true that for the most part the day-to-day home cook in the average family is female.

                                            Advertising dollars are getting slimmer & slimmer, thus they need to spend their dollars where they feel they'll get the best end result. And that's not the professional male chef or even the male home cook.

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