Annual Men’s Health survey ‘assumes readers are straight’

Stephen Gray August 6, 2012
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A fitness magazine for men has been accused of ignoring its gay and bisexual readers after its annual reader survey assumed all respondents were straight.

Men’s Health UK is known for its articles on body image, nutrition and sexual performance and has been published as a British edition of the original US magazine since 1995.

Covers featuring usually-shirtless male models or celebrities are a staple of the brand.

The focus on muscularity has meant the magazines, both the US and UK versions, have attracted criticism for promoting the pursuit of unattainable physiques.

After it was revealed the Russian social network VKontakte does not allow users to identify themselves as being in a gay relationship, a reader said he had contacted the fitness magazine about is 2012 reader survey.

The survey begins: “We don’t just want to know who our readers are. We want to know what makes them a man. What sort of workouts they love, their favourite dinner after a long day and what they do to unwind after. Only one man can help us: you.”

But, the reader pointed out, gay and bisexual readers have struggled to answer every question on the 44-item questionnaire.

The survey allows readers to identify as single, with a partner but living alone, cohabiting with their partner, married or divorced. It does not include civil partnerships. None of the questions asks the reader to identify their sexual orientation and there is no free text space for them to volunteer the information.

The options for a question about household responsibilities allows readers to say they do the cooking themselves, that they rely on takeaways or that “she” does it.

Annual Men’s Health survey ‘assumes readers are straight’

The reader, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had complained to the magazine last month but heard nothing in response.

He said: “Men’s Health magazine is aimed at guys who want to improve their bodies and look good. It has half-naked men on the cover and on the inside it basically fetishises big muscles on every page.

“I find it bizarre that the magazine assumes that it has no gay or bisexual readers. And if gays like me read the magazine, it doesn’t seem to want to know.”

Men’s Health had not responded to a request for comment from today.

The magazine’s survey does, however, give readers the option of choosing Stephen Fry as the British cultural icon of which they are most proud, in a list alongside Jamie Oliver, David Hockney, Ian McEwan and Damon Albarn.

More: Gay, magazine, poll, publishing, survey

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