Stores Agree to Hide Immoral 'Cosmo' Magazine Covers But Racy Men's Mags Can Show All the Nudity They Want

The world is about to become a safer place for misogynist prudes everywhere! The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has persuaded grocers to hide issues of Cosmopolitan magazine behind paper blinders in order to shield shoppers from its pornographic covers and content.


Retailers RiteAid and Delhaize America (which owns Hannaford Stores and Food Lion) will also stop selling Cosmo to minors. "This as a major victory for the ongoing campaign to shield Cosmo from minors because of the magazine’s glorification and desensitization of porn and sexual violence," reads NCSE's (de)press(ing) release.

Really -- Cosmo glorifies and desensitizes porn and sexual violence?

That has never been my impression. But just in case, I bought a couple copies. The U.S. August issue has sold out, but FYI: It featured 50-year-old mother-of-three Sarah Jessica Parker. Her blurb reads "Nice girls finish fierce" -- yup, sure sounds porny to me.

Okay, yes, the word SEX is blazing across the front. But what kind of sex? "Oh my goddess! Simple ways to make him worship you." Wow, that's a pretty darn empowering idea -- women owning their sexuality and using it to make men literally worship them as goddesses, rather than letting men exploit or abuse them. Hm...

Compare this with the current issue of Maxim.

Double standard, anyone? 

Why is it okay for men to gawk at women's bodies but not for women to gawk at women's bodies, anyway? Why so much focus on Cosmo, specifically, when men's magazines go so much further? Did they not see this year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover, with the model pulling down her bottom like that's the sole purpose she was put on Earth to do? (I actually did have a problem with that cover, unlike with Cosmo covers.)

I mean, can we please talk about the difference between the male gaze and the female gaze? Hello, Women's Studies 101, anybody?

More from The Stir: 'Sports Illustrated's Jaw-Dropping Cover Is NSFK (Not Safe for Kids)

If you're going to wage a war against sexual imagery in the media, at least be consistent!

But back to Cosmo, because NCSE really seems to have a beef with them. The UK issue I bought had a swimsuit editorial -- but the suits were all relatively modest ones intended for athletic women to actually swim and snorkel in. Shocking!

The sexual content is all at the back of the magazine. There's an article touting the benefits of morning sex -- because it makes you two feel closer, because of the health benefits, because variety is good, because it enhances your levels of immunoglobulin A ... it's all about feeling good and improving your health, for women.

And by the way, that's long been the tone of Cosmo's sex advice -- it's all about encouraging women to enjoy their bodies and take ownership of their pleasure. A dangerous concept, to be sure! Is that what NCSE is really worried about? 

The "Sex Therapy" column includes advice for woman who complains her boyfriend won't give her oral, a woman whose boyfriend resists connecting emotionally with her in bed, and a feminist who wants to stop sacrificing her pleasure for her partner's.

"As a feminist, you understand that your right to freedom, power, and safety is equal to men's, but your experience says otherwise," Cosmo's therapist Rachel Morris says. She urges all of the women to take control in bed and clearly ask for what they want.

There is one partially nude shot of a woman in this issue. It's of Silkyh Richardson, a woman with ulcerative colitis and surgery scars on her abdomen, talking about how she finally learned to love and accept her body. "I want women to know you're gorgeous no matter what size you are or what scars you have," she says.

If I had a teenage daughter who was curious about sex this is EXACTLY the content I would want them to find. It's stupid that anyone would want to protect minors from it. For that matter, I wouldn't mind my son reading it as well, because he'd get a real education into what will be expected him (someday) as a romantic partner, if it turns out he's straight or bi. 

But what burns me the most about National Center on Sexual Exploitation is that their mission is to focus on the (nonexistent) links between pornography/sex in the media and sex trafficking, violence against women, child abduction, etc.

Which means that while they're fussing over magazine covers, other people are doing the real work of empowering women and fighting the forces that actually fuel sexual abuse. Here are just a few examples.

Jenny Williamson, founder of Courage Worldwide. When she found out that her hometown of Sacramento was a hub for sex trafficking she stared this nonprofit that provides homes for young women and girls rescued from the sex trade.

Susan Munsey, who founded Generate Hope, a recovery program for young women who have been trafficked, prostituted, or otherwise sexually exploited.

Lisa Williams founded the Living Water Center for Girls, which combats human sex trafficking by providing refuge, care, education, and vocational services for victims.

I could go on. (All are L'Oreal's Women of Worth honorees, by the way.) My point is, this war being waged against Cosmo and similar women's media (like 50 Shades of Grey) is completely misguided. If you want to prevent the abuse and exploitation of women, go after the people actually abusing and exploiting.

Because rapists are not reading Cosmo for hot new rape positions, okay? They're not.


Image via Cosmopolitan UK magazine


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