Monday, 29 September 2008

I feel petty, oh so petty!

To supplement my regular dose of Pugwash's Almanac, The London Philatelist's Review and Pausey's Ladies Entomological Registry, I receive on a monthly basis that pinkest of periodicals, Girlfriend (this month with free bronzer, which, applied according to the manufacturer's specifications, will make me, ahem, tan-u-licious).

Girlfriend connects me to the teenagehood I never had. The one where I accessorize my way to happiness, invest in hypercolour mascara, write a 25-word account of a tampon falling out of my schoolbag in the presence of my BF for the "How embarrassment" column, expose my belly button to all weathers and think that Scorpio boys are super cute. I did the quiz and apparently I'm a perfect match for Michael Cera.

For all this, I am of course grateful. Not so grateful, however, that I will let pass egregious miscalculations from the "13 Bits of Useless Trivia" page:

Australia has four times more sheep than humans. New Zealand may be the butt of all sheep jokes, but their sheep population pales in comparison to our own, which has 70,000 more sheep than humans.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as of this minute, Australia's human population is 21, 444, 622 persons. If there are four times more sheep than humans, that means that there are 85,778, 488 sheep (yes, indeed), which means that there are 64, 333, 866 more sheep than humans. Take that, Girlfiend.


While we're on the subject, "groak" is only a word if you believe the intertubes. We who snootily regulate our vocabulary according to the OED will snub "groak" at every turn.

P.S. On reflection, it's not Girlfriend's dubious mathematics that I object to, or even its propagation of "groak": rather, its narrative of compulsory adolescent heterosexuality, where a girl's value resides in her eligibility as a girlfriend, that eligibility in turn attained by her spending sixty times her pocket money on unguents and googaws without which she will be hideous.

18 comments:

Ampersand Duck said...

whatever

Ampersand Duck said...

heh, just thought I'd try that.

I hate it too. Brainwashing youngsters to be insecure retail-therapists for the rest of their unnatural lives.

Aren't there a few alternate teen mags out there trying to address this? I've read about a few but can't remember them now. They've probably been knee-capped by teh awesome power of mainstream publishing, groaking every edition.

TimT said...

Groak, it's the noise wot drunk frogs make.

Go on, just tip a bucket of ale into Merri Creek and listen to the frogs. You'll see what I mean.

Don't listen to environmentalist naysayers who contend that it is 'wrong' to 'dump' ale in the 'creek' on the grounds of 'pollution'. You're just taking 'Merri Creek' and making it even 'Merrier'.

TimT said...

Though it's true, after they've had a bit of booze, frogs don't so much hop and jump as 'flop' and 'slump'.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

I'd like to see alternative teen mags, Duck. I used to get the CSIRO Double Helix Club magazine home delivered once a quarter, but that was the extent of my adolescent dabbling in magazinerie. Anything that isn't 97% advertorial would be better than GF.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Sozzlefrog!

eyrie said...

How embarrassment: a true story

Scene: a Year 8 music class at a single-sex school some time in the 1990s. Scenario: a tampon drops out of a girl's bag as the class are leaving a lesson taken by a young man on his teaching prac. Response of regular music teacher (a woman in her 50s): accuse the class of having concocted it together as some sort of bizarre conspiracy aimed at embarrassing the young male teacher (who, horror of horrors, had had to handle the tampon as he scooped it up and put it in the bin). Threaten to detain the entire class indefinitely until the owner of the tampon comes forward.

Result: After several girls check their bags, the "offender" (a friend of mine) comes forward. Entire class is given detention anyway for lack of sympathy to the plight of an adult male confronted by the revolting truths of the adolescent female body.

As for "groak", I kind of like it and the OED (blessed be its name nevertheless) is notoriously conservative about adding new words.

TimT said...

Well there's Lip magazine, and Bust, and Bitch Magazine, and probably a few others as well.

On no accounts should the Youth Of Today (YOTs!) follow my example and subscribe, over a period of years, to: the Correspondence Chess League of Australia quarterly, the British Origami Magazine, the Australian Skeptic, Quadrant, The Spectator, the New Yorker, and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.

When you find yourself subscribing to cheap Canberra-published science fiction magazines, you'll know you've really lost it. (Though it's even worse when you start submitting to them...)

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

In the almost words of Patrick White, "There are men, there are women, and then there are Quadrant readers."

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

(And he says it like it's meant to be some kind of insult to be called neither a man nor a woman. Ridiculous. Beagles are neither men nor women, and they're wonderful.)

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

I should really get back to work.

(Eyrie, that story is terrible. TERRIBLE! A more vengeful and self-righteous mind (mine) would have sculpted giant protest messages on the front lawn with sanitary pads. I would have thought of it, anyway, and probably been too chickenly to act.)

eyrie said...

It was pretty disappointing for a public, selective girls school with strong feminist undertones in all its official notices, yes.

The directive to spend all one's pocket money on cosmetics in order to prove one's "worth" as a prospective girlfriend is indeed appalling, but I've always been much more disturbed by the narrative peddled by Cosmo and the like, where self-worth is linked more explicitly still to providing sexual gratification for men, not the least because these are the magazines mid and older teens have generally moved on to.

JahTeh said...

I hang my head in shame. I just bought 'Madison' because it had a free Napoleon Perdis Mascara, RRP $25. I was a child of the eyelash age of Twiggy.

kiki said...

funniest thing, i subscribe too

Antenex said...

I was once published in Girlfriend magazine. I suppose you could call it a debut for a budding writer, but in reality is the desperate, last ditch effort for a confused teenager. But, would you believe, the advice I received was both constructive and encouraging. So, not such a bad mag - I even learnt how to apply mascara and what noises not to make when pashing my crush!

Maria said...

With stats like that, I propose a rival teen mag where a young girl's worth is derived from her ability to attract eligible sheep/rams. How to flatter a lamb, Best places to find the sheep of your dreams, Sheep hang-outs, that sorta info.

We might as well be looking to more fertile and plentiful pastures, I say, and give the girls a bit more to graze on.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

Kiki, stop subscribing! Unless, like me, you get your jollies from ranting indignantly in the privacy of your own lavatory, Girlfriend is a waste of your money, and paper, and time.

Antenex, on the other hand, that is, like, way qu'ool.

lucy tartan said...

When I was in year 7, I doubt I will ever forget this, a girl's schoolbag fell open, dropping, among other things, a wadded-up lump of school toilet paper with a large quantity of dried blood on it. To make it worse this girl was already a bit of an outcast. The stuff of nightmares, really it was.