Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Know Your Audience

The bookstore I work at during the summer recently opened its third location on a part of the beach that gets more year-round, local traffic. This means we now have a store with enough regular traffic to support carrying magazines. My friend Meaghan was working at the new location yesterday, and I swung by to meet her for drinks after work. Together we perused the magazine section, which is extensive. We have a ton of magazines on all manner of subjects.

“Hey, do we have porn?” I asked Meaghan. “Just gay porn,” Meaghan replied. “Whoa, I was only kidding!” I said as Meaghan pulled several plastic-wrapped magazines off the shelf to show me. The first few looked like regular old magazines that just happened to have hunky naked guys on the front. The only way you could tell the magazines were geared toward gay men and not straight women was by their headlines (“Big Balls and the Men Who Love Them,” for example). But the last one Meaghan showed me made me blush. “Oh my GOD!” I gasped, covering my eyes, “why do we have this?” (For the record, I’m a bit of a prude – a couple engaged in heterosexual intercourse on the cover of a magazine would have elicited the same response.)

Here’s the conversation that then ensued:

Meaghan: Bill [the owner] thinks we need to reach out to the gay community.

Me: By selling them porn?!

Meaghan: Apparently.

Me: Isn’t that just perpetuating the stereotype that gay guys are nothing but sex-crazed deviants?

Meaghan: Pretty much.

Me: Wouldn’t having a gay and lesbian literature section be a slightly better way of reaching out to the gay community?

Meaghan: I’ve already had this exact argument with Bill and gotten nowhere. It’s like arguing with him about the Women’s section.

Me: Don’t get me started.

Because we’re talking about a man whose Women’s Studies section includes Dr. Laura’s The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands (which I always put in Humor); an entire shelf full of books devoted to looking good, with patriarchy-busting titles such as How Not to Look Fat, Dress Your Best, Makeup Makeover, and What Not to Wear; and nary a copy of The Feminine Mystique.

At least he got the gay community some porn. I’m stuck with Put on Your Pearls, Girls.


Patrick said...

Where is this gay porn store? I think I need to pay Bill's little establishment. Ever think that Bill might want these magazines for himself?

Megan said...

Um, yeah, just a little.

lulu said...

I had a run in with the manager at my local B&N a year or so ago because they had a Women's History month table covered with chick lit and isues of Cosmo. I went up to him with a stack of books I thought would be better choices, but he wasn't interested, so then i showed him the large pile of books I wouldn't be buying because I was offended.

vikkitikkitavi said...

What, no Caitlin Flanagan?

Megan said...

Oh, Caitlin's there. And, to be fair, so are Rianne Eisler, Eve Ensler, and The Bitch in the House. That just didn't make for as good a story.