However, I’ve noticed Cosmo’s “fun, fearless female” campaign over the years, so I expected to look at images and read articles about how to be a badass woman (and, yes, tips on how to have my best orgasm yet, how to have the biggest orgasm of my life and how to have my longest orgasm ever). And so, I flipped through the glossy pages expecting to be entertained and titillated – what new secrets would Cosmo have for me?
Turns out, Cosmo’s fun, fearless female campaign is a big fucking lie. On page 51 of the December 2013 issue, under the title “Fun, Fearless Confessions,” I learned the following fun fearless things:
- “For the first time ever, I slept with two guys in a single weekend. Now I have a yeast infection.”
- “I wet the bed at my booty call’s apartment and had to pretend I’d spilled a drink on his sheets.”
Um, no, Cosmo. Not fun. Not fearless. Kinda gross. And worse than that is the mixed message of the confessions themselves. I think Cosmo is making two points here, and very purposely:
- Women can have sex with multiple men and be the one who makes the booty call.
- But if they do, they’ll get a yeast infection and pee the bed.
It’s a sneaky message, isn’t it? Think about it. Cosmo must get thousands of women sending in their confessions. And then they choose certain submissions and edit them. Cosmo chose these particular confessions and then further chose not to edit the negative reaction to the proposed positive action. Bit of a mixed message, no?
And then, on page 159 in the “Love Advice” section, I read this Q&A:
- Q: “My guy sometimes goes out to bars with a girl he works with. I trust him but not her. She’s extremely flirty toward him. Should I be worried?”
- A: “No matter how trustworthy your boyfriend is, if you mix alcohol and a flirty coworker enough times, something bad will eventually happen. Don’t demand that he stop hanging out with the coworker. That’ll make him defensive and probably start a fight. Instead, say: She’s into you, and I obviously understand why. I trust you, but nobody’s perfect and knowing you are out drinking with her makes me uneasy.”
What the fuck? Really, Cosmo? This answer is ridiculously damaging. This answer says women are whores not to be trusted and boys will be boys.
This is fun? This is fearless? Or, is this the same-old idea that we have to treat women like the competition because the only thing worth our time is men – getting them, keeping them, and guarding them from the perils of other sneaky, cheating, moral-free women who will steal what’s ours in a heartbeat?
Have sex (whore)
On a superficial level, Cosmo seems to be encouraging women to have sex with as many men as they want as often as they want – their articles straight-up state that this is fun, fearless activity. This is considered to be the epitome of female empowerment.
But on a deeper level, Cosmo seems to be stating that we need to be wary of the very women they are encouraging – those other women who may view sex as something they are free to do with whomever they want, for example your boyfriend. So, you can be a fun, fearless woman having sex all the time but you are still a whore to be feared. And men are just helpless victims to the tawdry lure of our over-heated vaginas and we will be immediately punished with yeast infections for our slutty behaviour.
Jesus Cosmo – what decade is your calendar showing?
Your vagina does not equal empowerment
My idea of a fun, fearless woman is someone who knows who she is and what she wants, or knows that she’s on the journey to find out. She is brave enough to make mistakes, learn from them, laugh at them, and ask for help. She embraces opportunity. She has integrity. She is confident, wise, empathetic and trusting. She’s not afraid to speak her mind (even if it might start a fight). She knows that women are not the competition, not to be feared, not to be belittled. She knows that relationships are a healthy part of life and that sex is a healthy part of life, and she knows that her vagina does not equal empowerment – not by withholding it and not by sharing it.
Your magazine overtly teaches women that they have to have sex to be fun and fearless and covertly calls them whores for it. You are an idiot. You are detrimental to the very idea of female empowerment. Your magazine should be placed in the porn section, next to Hustler and Asian Fever, with black Xs over your offensive articles and ideas.
Fuck off, Cosmo, fuck right off.
December 2013 Cosmopolitan Magazine