So, in what could be considered a monumental move, Walmart has decided to pull the women’s magazine, Cosmopolitan off the front shelves in support of the #MeToo movement. I’m not the biggest fan of the #MeToo movement personally due to the repercussions that I knew would come, but I do support this move.
I don’t fancy myself a prude by any stretch, but I have been in opposition to virtually all the fashion magazines on the market in recent years, and I have been staunchly opposed to Cosmo in particular for even longer than that. Actually, I think it has been about 12 years since I decided that enough was enough with that magazine and vowed to stop reading it. So strong is this resolve that if I was in a doctor’s office waiting room, I would read Popular Mechanics before I would pick up the issue of Cosmo. Now, I know that Cosmo has virtually been the bible for the sexually independent young woman, but I found it’s content to be progressively more and more devoid of substance and actually rather counterintuitive.
The famed chronicle, propelled into modern pop culture by author and editor-in-chief, Helen Gurley Brown, which made popular the Bedside Astrologer and hot and half-dressed single guys who are coincidentally looking for love, has become even more notorious for its monthly articles on the myriad of ways to please your man sexually. Cosmo is the magazine that, I think ironically, coined the phrase “Fun, Fearless, Female”. However, it didn’t take me very long to realize just how conflicting the messages were.
To my best recollection, my first encounter with Cosmo was about 27 years ago or so when I came across an article of about a diet that was described as “Spartan”, very simple, essentially a starvation diet that guaranteed to transform you into a “sylph”. Over the years, I would read its Bedside Astrologer; take in its beauty tips, which were not even suited to my ethnicity; check out its stereotypically good looking guys with washboard abs who just wanted that someone special; and finally, get on to the spread detailing 50 ways to fellate your man. It was exciting at first, but year after year, as I matured, I realized that all of these “tips” weren’t really necessary. By age 24, I realized that it really all was quite absurd.
I became troubled by the conflicting messages I would see within its pages. On one page, how to take care of your skin/body, on the other, how to party all night like you did in college but still wake up looking fresh for work. One page, an article calling women to action to help impoverished women in third-world countries develop economic opportunities, on the other, a $12,000 designer coat. One one page, love the body you have, on the other, how to lose 15 pounds in one week. On one page, how to stand up for what you want in your life and your job, on the other, women who are shamed into silence. And my “favorite”, 101 positions to keep your man coming back for more, on the other, “I had drunken sex with him, but half-way through, I decided I didn’t like it, so I’m saying he raped me.” There is so much confusion jam packed in those few pages that it’s enough to do anyone’s head in, and I am convinced that that is precisely how they like it.
Confusion is what keeps the reader coming back for more. The sex tips are regurgitated and passed off as new for consumption and utilization by groups of women who have developed progressively contentious interactions with the opposite sex. The articles vacillate between petty Hollywood gossip and fear mongering. Its superficiality is nauseating.
But back to the #MeToo backlash. I knew that a media source that pushed such hyper-sexuality and caprice would be eventually called on the carpet for the part it had to play, despite its attempts to fleece the public with its so-called support of the movement. It’s like the murderer who grooms, kills, then buries their prey then has the audacity to join in on the search party. They have a major part to play in this, they are guilty. While this article in Fortune magazine argues that the #MeToo movement is about men in positions of power abusing their advantage, and that may have been true in the beginning, but, like virtually everything these days, it has crossed over into other avenues and has become bigger than it was intended. Now, so much as a sideways glance is condemned as sexual harassment. What Cosmo does is basically tell women they have license to rub their goodies in a man’s face in the name of sexual liberation but lock him up when he reaches out for a touch. This is unhealthy.
While I’m picking on Cosmo in particular, sadly it seems that pretty much all the fashion magazines have descended into this pathetic spiral, short of the brazen sex peddling that Cosmo does. I had gotten to the point where I felt reduced to only subscribing to People Stylewatch so I could get nothing but fashion and makeup tips, but sadly, it has recently ceased publication, so now I feel I’m left with nothing.
I don’t know how long this move by Walmart will last and whether it will catch on, but I am hoping that Cosmo will view this as a wakeup call and realize that with great power comes great responsibility. And Cosmo has been acting irresponsibly for years. Moreover, it has encouraged countless generations of women to act irresponsibly with no thought of consequence. Oh, and by the way, Joanna Coles, the best orgasms are not to be achieved through positions 2, 29, and 57, they’re achieved through meaningful sexual intercourse within the confines of a substantial and committed relationship, and I didn’t need your magazine to teach me that.