Vintage blog-rant: Rant about Cosmo

In 2006, during the not-quite-but-almost-feminist early years, I went on a rant on my MySpace blog about Cosmo. I was apparently unaware that I was not the first to come to these conclusions about the rag, but I was eager in my distate for it, anyway:

Rant of the Day: Cosmo

…Have I ever gone into vast detail about why I hate Cosmopolitan (the magazine geared toward women, if you’ve been living under a rock for the past few decades)? Let me enlighten you on my thoughts, then:

See, I can’t help but read this magazine. It’s everywhere… in my “row” of half-cubes at work, all the girls in my row have just about every Cosmo, Glamour, Elle, Allure, etc. ever made in the last two years or so. Magazines are great for in-between calls reading material, when you don’t have enough time to read something like a book, where you’d keep getting interrupted with other things and lose your place, and you’ve already refreshed your Friends page and MySpace and the Strib online or whatever other website you frequent. Magazines have articles, and blurbs here and there that you can spend a minute or so reading and be done.

So, given the options that these girls have, I choose Cosmo over the others because the others are strictly fashion-related. The articles and interviews they include are with fashion directors, models, runway coordinators, whatever. They’re about latest trends and things like that. It bores me to tears. I can’t stand the “fashion” pages in magazines… I skip right over the stupid pictures of outrageous crap that’s suddenly trendy that I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing in public (nor would anyone else I know, for that matter), not to mention spend hundreds of dollars on for one skirt/shirt/scarf/bag/whatever. Then the endless pages on what makeup trend is hot this fall and how to apply this or that eye shadow or blush or bronzer, or whatever. I don’t think I’ve regularly done any more to my face than put under eye concealer and mascara on it since I was “allowed” to start wearing makeup at 12, unless I was going out and wanted to be a little more dramatic with some eyeliner or something. Cosmo, as obviously “fashion magazine” as it is, has some articles that try (emphasis on the try) to be interesting, relating to issues concerning young women, aged 20-30ish.

Anyway, I looked at the current open Cosmo on my desk, flipped it to the cover, and read an almost identical headline to the previous month’s issue. Something like “Hundreds of sex positions to get your guy moaning all night!”

How do they get away with having the exact same articles in every other issue year after year after year? How do readers either not notice, or continue to buy the issues anyway? Do people think that even though they’ve seen the same headline on the same magazine hundreds of times before, and that the other 4 “women’s interest” magazines next to them on the rack next to them say the same thing, that maybe this month, there are NEW “sizzling sex moves to master”? They just find different ways to rearrange the same 86 numbered sentences that they insert in every issue that say things like, “When he’s about to ejaculate, rub the area between his anus and his balls. The result will send sparks out of his urethra and he will declare you goddess of all things carnal.” (well, not exactly. But you get the idea.) And, “Try having him sit on a chair, and then you climb on his lap and ride him.” “Wear a skirt and push your underwear to the side and climb on top of him. He’ll think you’re so hot for him that you just couldn’t be bothered to take off your clothes, because you had to have him RIGHT NOW! You’ll drive him wild!”

As though replacing normal words for common sexual positions that the majority of couples try or do frequently anyway with Cosmo jargon-laden shit will make it any more different or than usual.

Not to mention… some of the more recent articles are beyond insulting, even more so than usual. Headlines reading, “The ego-boost to keep your man from cheating!”

WHAT?!

You already confuse me by saying on page 94 that I am a smart, confident, sexy woman who should love herself no matter what, who deserves to be treated like a queen, and then telling me, the “smart, confident, sexy woman” who loves herself no matter what and doesn’t waste her precious time on people who don’t, on page 96, how to get rid of my flabby thighs and post-high school pooch, brighten my dull complexion and make my limp hair shiny, after I tone the cellulite in my ass, so that I can have Janet’s abs and Mischa’s arms and Angelina’s hair.

Now you’re telling me that if I don’t consistently compliment my boyfriend, the guy that’s supposed to think I’m smart, confident, sexy, and treat me like a queen) in just the right way, that he’s going to go after the first hot piece of ass that crosses his path? And that there’s something that I can do to PREVENT it, other than loving him and attending to his personal needs, and expecting him to do exactly the same with me? You mean that’s not enough? That I’m BOUND to be cheated on because the SMART, SEXY, CONFIDENT, QUEEN-LIKE, SELF-LOVING ME CAN NEVER BE ENOUGH FOR ANY MAN UNLESS I ATTEMPT TO MANIPULATE HIM INTO THINKING HE ACTUALLY LIKES ME?!!!!

Are you FUCKING KIDDING me?

Then there was the article about “Naughty Nooky Ideas for you and your man.” This was about fantasies, how to play them out, and how to go about discussing them with your guy. The article had a somewhat disclaimer before describing some “common” fantasies that guys have, saying that they were going to give examples, but “here’s a way to tone them down a bit to make sure that you’re comfortable, while giving him the core part of the fantasy without going overboard.”

This included supposed S&M-type of things, like getting a pair of fuzzy handcuffs and letting him “lightly spank you.” And ideas about a threesome, telling women to tell him to talk to you about what he’d like another girl to do to you, which you do to yourself with the lights off and talk like someone else is doing it, or something stupid like that, to emulate the idea of another person in the room. And to pretend you’re having sex in public or outside, do it with all the lights off by your balcony window, with the window open and curtain shut, so it SOUNDS like you’re out there, since you can hear other things going on, even though you are obviously on a couch or carpet indoors all alone.

Oh, and I almost forgot, in another article, they had said something about threesomes, and how you agree to try it, and say you want to do it with another guy. Cosmo says, “Just because he wants a threesome doesn’t mean he wants to see you getting it on with his bud, or even more, get it on with him himself!”

So, I’m sorry, what the fuck are we getting at here? That it’s perfectly natural for women to want to have sex with each other for a man’s benefit, so he can be turned on by it, and then participate in your boyfriend having sex with the other girl, but that it’s absurd, and even unnatural to assume that he’d want to do the same thing with a guy? Or not even that, since I know a lot of guys ARE uncomfortable with that idea, but that it’s absurd to think that he SHOULD be open to that idea if he expects YOU to be, about the same sex?

…And a thousand other equally as ridiculous suggestions.

Now, when I say these things are ridiculous, I’m not saying that it’s so lame that a girl wouldn’t want her boyfriend to slap her ass so hard that she gets blood blisters on her butt cheeks or that all guys should be down with man-on-man love. I’m saying that I think it’s preposterous to assume that all women are freaked out by anything beyond missionary-style, 10-minute long, vanilla sex. To just outright say that, like it’s an actual fact. And to assume that women just have no desire whatsoever to do these things, but that we should give it a shot, and here’s a way to manipulate the guy into thinking he’s getting what he wants when he’s really not, just to get him to shut up about it so that he can’t bug you to have sex again for another couple weeks or so. Because, we all know, women don’t like having sex. We just like to cuddle. Sex is that thing we do as infrequently as possible to keep our man around, because in addition to hating sex, we are also terrified of being alone and will do anything to keep that from happening.

Oh, I am now completely outraged. And I haven’t even finished citing all of the ridiculous things I read about in the last week. I had about 8 up my sleeve to rant about.

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3 Responses to Vintage blog-rant: Rant about Cosmo

  1. David K says:

    Well Bravo – although I notice you no longer use the word “lame” as much in your blogging 😉

    An interesting quick and dirty deconstruction of sex and women’s magazines here:
    http://www.womens-mag-science.com/2010/06/18/video-quick-and-dirty-womens-magazinest/
    (UK-based but probably internationally applicable)

    • April says:

      “I notice you no longer use the word ‘lame’ as much in your blogging”

      It’s true, I cringed reading the word, but figured I’d leave the post intact, aside from a quick tense edit when I mentioned the person I was dating at the time.

      I’m also cringing at my repetitive use of “girls” to refer to females who are most certainly over the age of 16… ugh.

  2. Clarence says:

    Pure gold.

    Not only were you right on point about the schizophrenic mix of articles within the same issue (lol) but I’m glad you noticed the issues all say the same thing over and over and over. Considering how well these things sell and have sold for literally decades I was beginning to wonder if women noticed that! Heck, my mom used to get that rag (Cosmo) at the grocery store occasionally and sometimes I’d get bored and actually try reading it if nothing else was available.

    I think you nailed it, and in a very funny way too. But sadly, I think that yes, there are girls who learn things from Cosmo articles(given that there is no longer an overarching societal wide model for female sexual behavior, this leads to a multitude of more regional and individual ones, some of which are truly toxic and/or old fashioned), though I suspect most females who read it either do so out of boredom or to make fun of it. And that’s why Cosmo will probably still be polluting the magazine rack 20 years from now.

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