This morning I was alerted to the existence of Cheers magazine, which is apparently a free publication distributed in Barking. As far as free publications go, this one's fairly special and I challenge every print and production journalist, designer and writer reading this to take a look at the latest online edition without feeling slightly nauseous.
Remember when you were at primary school and got made to put together some sort of 'magazine' for a project, using only an aging Acorn A3000 and as much clip art as you could fit on a page? It's like that. One feature is actually entitled "Summer is here! Yay!". Amazingly they claim to distribute up to 48,000 copies.
The discussion about Cheers started because one woman who had it delivered to her was horrified to read its feature on 'What Men Really Want From Women' (you can click here for a much bigger version - complete with outraged reader's scrawl). As well as tips about being a housewife and how to communicate with their husbands, women of Barking have been treated to such wisdom as:
"Bin the track bottoms and try feminine clothes like knee-length skirts and slingbacks. Above all behave well," and more charmingly:
"Make sure he gets you regularly. Lack of intimacy at home is the major cause of infidelity."
Because you know it's always your fault if your man cheats, right? I think we all agree that a healthy sexual relationship is a good thing for most couples, but I'm not sure that 'make sure he gets you regularly' is the healthiest way to phrase it.
Incensed, the woman emailed the editor to tell him exactly what she thought of his 1950s-style marriage tips. He promptly replied - and here I quote the entire email and highlight some choice morsels:
"Sorry you feel that way. However, we stick by our article. Our focus is building back our community, which sadly has been destroyed by weird ideas from within and outside government.Way to go with the misogyny there, Mr Sijuwola. I'm sure your male readers are also enjoying being stereotyped as cavemen who can't connect sex with love and think about little more than food all day. If this is how his relationship plays out, I feel sorry for him.
The home is the basis of society, and it's broken in lots of our communities.
We will also be doing an article on men's responsiblities to which you may choose to contribute.
Also, the article is titled "What men want in women". As you are not a man, I do not think you are in a position to know what men want or determine what they should want.
Also, our article is geared to helping many women who have marital issues caused by ignoring to do basic things.
I will touch on a couple:
Whether you like it or not some women hold back on intimacy, thinking it is a hold on the man or a reward. Quite often, it drives them to other women and the divorce court. What you fail to realise is that for a man to be with you at all, he saw something in you. So, why on earth should he play? It's not because he does not love you, it's because sex and love are NOT linked in men, unlike women.
Some do not think cooking is important. Well, to most men, food is more important than anything else. Many men go into stone walls without any obvious reason. Deep down, it's because he's hungry. "I'm going home. My wife is cooking" is the only thing that makes most men leave the pub. Not "I'm going home, my wife needs me." Tough but true.
A quick bit of investigative work by other people who were just as horrified by the magazine's content threw up links to a bizarre publishing company called Paul Books, interestingly listed on one directory as a 'religious organisation'. And someone else quickly found out that Dapo Sijuwola stood in this year's general election as a candidate for The Restoration Party, a party which calls for 'a return to the values that made Britain great'. Apparently rampant misogyny is one of these values.
Now Cheers magazine is so ridiculous (and, well, awful) that you'd think it's a spoof. But people have definitely had it posted through their doors. Have you? I'm intrigued. If you like, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to let Mr Sijuwola know how you feel about this sort of 'advice' being distributed to the general public in the format of a 'community magazine'.