Jacqueline S. told us about a post at DarrenBarefoot comparing the words that appears most frequently on the covers of Cosmo and Maxim. Darren typed a list of every word that appeared on the covers for three years (2007-2010 for Cosmo, 2005-2008 for Maxim; he doesn’t explain why he chose different time periods) and then made word clouds to illustrate frequency. The results for Maxim:

And Cosmo:

So in both cases, sex rules, followed by a reference to the category of people you’re supposedly interested in having sex with (since both magazines pretty much exclusively assume heterosexual relationships). The word “sex” or “sexy” appeared at least once on ever single Cosmo cover in the 3-year span, and most Maxim covers as well.

But notice how much more the language on Cosmo covers focuses on sex and relationships than Maxim‘s does, with more frequent use of words that explicitly refer to men and/or sex. Of course, those familiar with Cosmo, or most other women’s magazines, know that its headlines about sex make it clear what the point is: various ways to please your man, which translates into increasing your own pleasure. Maxim, on the other hand, focuses less attention on relationships (or health/fitness) and more on money, travel, and pop culture (sports, TV, movies).

To highlight how dominant sex is on Cosmo covers, Darren made a 15-second video of them in rapid succession, back and forth:

I doubt any of you are shocked by his findings, but it’s a nice illustration of the way magazines aimed at women reinforce the idea that our primary goal should be finding, pleasing, and keeping a heterosexual partner to a degree not usually found in men’s magazines.