It's a Man's World
pays tribute to to the American men's magazines that were tremendously popular from the 1950s through the early 1970s. These magazines were highly formulaic and catered to a particular brand of masculinity that became increasingly sexual and increasingly violent as time went on. They contained things you'd expect in today's magazines - how-to sections, dating dips, salacious exposes, etc. But they also contained things you wouldn't expect to find in your typical copy of GQ - over the top "true stories" of sex, violence, and sexual violence. These stories typically featured an American GI in some dire situation where he had to fight and fuck and kill his way to liberation.
I am clearly not the intended audience for this book, but I used it in my thesis, so here I am. As a woman, my main reaction was, "wow this is so fucked up." But what's even more off putting is that rather than contextualize the magazines, Parfrey and the various sections' authors glamorize them. They seem to be basking in the glory of the good old days, when a man could be a man...whatever that means. The major thrust of the collection is exemplified in the section where they justify the blatant racism and sexism by quoting an illustrator who says, "That's just the way things were." Which is problematic on so many levels.
Bottom line - if you're looking for unapologetic and hyper-masculine displays of sex and aggression with a total lack of nuance, this is the book for you. It gets 3 stars for providing me with such great content for my research - I couldn't find high quality reproductions of these covers and illustrations anywhere.