Relationship advice from Cheers magazine

Friday, 16 July 2010

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.

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.

Thank you

Dapo Sijuwola
Cheers Magazine"
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.

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 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'.


Guy Clapperton said...

One or two of the bits of "advice" make sense but only if they're applied to both sexes. If you're earning significantly more than your partner, shut up about it (unless you're about to pay for a holiday). When you're with your partner do them the favour of dressing well - I'm 45, we've been together as a couple for almost 20 years, married almost 18, and I still like wearing a good suit to take my wife out. Remain polite even when you're established enough together to take each other for granted (which you never should anyway) - and don't be domineering.

The more I look at this article the more I think the offensive bit - and it is offensive - is the one-way nature of the advice.

(Oh, and a note to the editor - I'm a bloke, I do know what I want, and I've been a bloke for 45 years so I have some experience in the subject).

@Angpang said...


Reads like the writer has a personal grudge and has lost all sense of reality.

Laughable, but worrying. Not only has someone decided to write it, someone else has agreed to publish.

Ruth said...

This reads like one of those personal ads where you just know they're talking about their ex.

"No players" = my ex cheated.


jonathan said...

As a man I have to say that this "Ladies Corner" is not what I really want, not even what I mildly want, it is almost the antithesis of what I really want from Women. I don't want women to be polite, caring air-heads sending me "lovely texts" whilst they cook my dinner and apply their cosmetics. I would prefer angry, pushy women showing assertive leadership in the World treating me as an equal. whilst I cook something delicious.

RedHead said...

'Distributed in Barking'. Barking Mad-ville run by a misogynistic bunch of backward women-haters from prehistoric times. I particularly liked 'your family is your priority, not your job - whether it pays the bills or not'.

Anonymous said...

That letter is just horrifying.
As for the advice, I think that sadly most women's magazines tend to give guidance leaning a bit too much in that direction.

Anonymous said...

This post and the points you make in it are good and necessary; would you mind if my friend and I were to feature it/link it on a new feminist blog/group we're setting up? Things like this slip under the radar all too easily, so on behalf of us both I can safely say we're glad you have made a post about it...

Other Hannah from facebook/livejournal (flaaa_blah)

Hannah Mudge said...

Guy - yes the one-way nature of the advice is one of the most offensive things about it. The editor says they plan to write a feature about 'what women want' so I can only hope this will be written by a woman, not by him pretending he knows what's best for women. I agree with you re: earnings and making an effort with your appearance though - like you say, it applies to both men and women.

Anpang & Ruth - it definitely seems like there's some sort of personal bitterness woven in. Or possibly a conservative religious mindset. Neither of which should be making it into the pages of a local community mag!

Glad to hear it Jonathan! Not that there's anything wrong with women who love cooking or stay at home, but as you point out not everyone is bothered by this sort of thing. My husband loves cooking too and I'm not about to stop him doing it!

RedHead - Yes, that's quite worrying because it seems like it's encouraging women to stay at home no matter what their financial situation is and in this day and age that's not the most realistic line to take, never mind the fact it totally ignores any desire we might have to you know, do something outside childcare.

Emma G - I agree, I think a lot of women's magazines give the same sort of advice dressed up in a different way. Certainly when it comes to the whole 'making him feel like he's in charge/changing what you wear to impress him/not earning more than him' thing. Which is probably why I don't read women's magazines.

Hannah - Yep go ahead! I had a quick peek at the blog yesterday and am excited to see what you're going to do with it :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thank you, Hannah! We will be sure to credit and to let you know when we are going to feature it. :)

In the mean time...keep up the great posts!

Anonymous said...

If this magazine is receiving funding from any sources then they need to be complained to. If there are companies or public bodies or trust funds supporting this tripe then they should be bombarded with complaints and try to get them to withdraw their funding.

It's always possible that there are enough loonies behind this cause that they've paid for it themselves though. How awful.

And I don't agree that it's just the one way nature of the advice that makes it offensive. It's the shallow, surface nature of the advice that is most offensive to me. How will we ever foster respect and understanding between the genders if we think that maintaining a relationship is all about playing some weird game of dressing up and cooking... what about proper engagement where you learn to fully see each other's humanity, understand each other's needs and hopes and be there to support each other.

Hannah Mudge said...

I totally agree with you. Just recently I've heard a few people using outdated and restrictive stereotypes about men's and women's personalities/emotions/desires to try to 'solve' relationship problems and that's SO not what's needed. Like you say, respect and understanding doesn't come from all that. Talking about cooking and letting the man be in charge without fail achieves nothing and is never going to address relationship issues.

Marina S said...

Sent to the editor earlier today:

Dear sir,

It is unclear to me why, upon reading your article, and assuming that the suggestions as to the nature of men implicit in it are correct[1], any woman would choose to link her fate to such a debased creature.

On the basis of reality-based observation therefore, which tends to indicate that quite a few women in fact enjoy the company of men and even seek it deliberately, I can only conclude that you, sir, are not only grievously wrong but also pathetically deluded.

Tough, but true.


[1] Men are superficial creatures who will neglect a woman who is insufficiently conventionally attractive, are unable to take responsibility of home life (they need a woman to handle that from them), are sexually out of control and incapable of sustaining fidelity, are primarily focused on crude physical things such as food, are insecure and resentful of competing “leadership” etc.

Pamela Myers said...

I think I agree with one thing that the editor said, that the home and family is important.

I find it most strange that is a continuing theme in feminists debates that men are often painted as buffoons incapable of controlling their actions and should not be held responsible for their own lives. An outsider would think that men are the ones looking for equality.

What angers me most is the idea that a man, who enjoys alcohol too much would leave the pub if there was a meal or whatever. An alcoholic cares only about themselves.

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For me, it is really amazing to read a nice advice through magazines and even blogs. All I can say is that it's up to the readers out there if they will really follow the relationship advice brought by the cheers magazine.
For the writer thanks for sharing this one.

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