THE BLOG
03/31/2008 10:04 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Outside Mag Sells Bikes -- Also, Women

In our culture we have a long-standing tradition of metaphorically selling women but we've left the literal selling to actual human traffickers. Outside magazine -- "we go outside so you can pretend you do" -- is doing it's best to blur those lines for its mostly male, mostly wealthy readership. (I have no data to show who actually subscribes to their magazine but based on the types of articles written, I feel safe in my assumptions.)

Evidence #1: Of all the beautiful men & women that have graced the cover, and there have been many, only one has been fully nude. April 2005's cover girl Sara Carlson, a rock climber of such renown that her only hits when Googled are for the Outside cover, posed nude for leading fashion photographer James White. So far, just like every other magazine, right? Except that Outside readers voted the Carlson cover their favorite cover of all time. She beat out uber-Olympian Michael Phelps, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and even Gabrielle Reece. But then the latter was clothed (in a bikini) and actually participating in the sport she helped make famous. Carlson is of course not climbing because, for starters, how would she even wear the harness? Awkward.

Evidence #2: In addition to the unapologetically schoolboy use of phallic titles like "Excuse My Thrust" (Jan 2007), about motorcycle racing, "Built to Lust" (July 2007), about bicycles, "Babes on Belay" (April 2005), tips on how to get a woman under you -- at least on the mountain, and "Model Nation" (Sep 2007), which boldly explores the masses of beautiful Brazilian women willing to get naked for a few bucks, Outside's articles are generally geared, scaled & written just for men. Their workouts? Men only. Their fitness assessments? Outside doesn't care if their female readers, of which there are some judging by indignant letters to the editor, drop dead of a heart attack. In fact all the better to get some free eye candy when the EMTs have to rip her shirt open for CPR, right? Yeah, baby.

Evidence #3
: But by far my favorite misogynistic aspect of Outside are the ads. Flip directly to the back (no, I didn't say flip her to her back) and mixed in amongst the pricey travel packages (heaven forbid you vacation in a place where the locals aren't easily taken advantage of -- yes, I'm including you Wyoming) are ads for... women. Not personals ads. But mail-order brides. I'm not sure what that has to do with travel as I assume they come to you (certified mail?) or the outside unless they're referring to the womens' current homes. "Attractive Russian women", "Asian ladies" and others "seeking husbands" are in every issue. After all, what better gift for the been-there, has-everything, seen-that man than his custom, built-to-order woman (call toll free for your free picture catalog)! And it even has a built-in money back guarantee -- sure it says "bride" but it's not like you have to actually marry them when they get here. Be sure to ask about two-for-one shipping.

But hey, I just read it for the articles.