November 20, 2015

Cosmo Came for Christmas: Now Join Our “Cosmo-X-Vent”

By Lisa Thompson with Dani Bianculli


Few people following the news could have missed the controversy brewing around the Starbuck’s “Christmas” coffee cup. Conspicuously missing from the bright, red cup is any greeting referring to Christmas or any of the holidays associated with this time of year. Whether you take issue with the Starbucks cup or not, the issue that sparked the controversy pales in comparison to the mockery of Christmas and Hanukkah unleashed in the December issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.

For decades Christmas in America has been commercialized (to say the least), but for many it still has a deep and meaningful spiritual significance. While it is fairly easy to differentiate between the secular celebration and festivities, with their emphasis on good feelings, family, brotherly love, and material consumption, from serious and sacred religious traditions, to Cosmopolitan everything must be pornified, even Christmas, and nothing, not even religious expression, will be spared. To Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles and her associates, the holiday season is not simply devoid of spiritual meaning (à la Starbucks), but rather spiritual significance is something to be mocked and creepily sexualized.

In an article entitled “Cosmo’s Sexy Holiday Countdown,” readers are presented a “Sex-Vent” calendar featuring 24 days of ways by which readers can ostensibly “have a merry little XXX-mas.” This is a perversion of the traditional Christmas Advent season, a time in which many Christians make special preparations and engage in spiritual reflection culminating in the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Among the many traditions that Christians observe during this time, some keep an Advent calendar to mark and celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. But according to Cosmo, the time leading up to Christmas is just another opportunity for it to proclaim its dogma of anything goes sexuality and hawk sex toys.

In its list of recommended “Sex-Vent” programming, Cosmo’s readers are exhorted to “Roast His Chestnuts,” “Light His Yule Log,” “get your inner voyeur on,” and to ask for “Mrs. Claus’s best friend”—a vibrator. The article also urges readers to “Light His Menorah! . . . Just like the Maccabee’s flame, he’ll last even longer than expected,” and to “Play a game of ‘Sex Dreidel,’”— perversions of the Jewish celebration of lights known as Hanukkah, which commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. In a world full of so many other distasteful options, Cosmo decided to push the envelope and target the spiritual symbolism held sacred by so many. Let’s face it, Cosmo has no class, and apparently few, if any, scruples.

While it’s not breaking news that Cosmo glamorizes cheap, public, anal, group, and even violent sex, and routinely normalizes pornography and commercial sexual exploitation, doing so in a formula that also profanes religious beliefs and traditions is a new low. Even so, this new sacrilege is not so surprising when one considers that Cosmo is in the business of the profane. Cosmo is, after all, passionately committed to a doctrine that teaches women and girls to believe that achieving “hotness” is the supreme achievement; that women’s purpose is to sexually serve men; that mastering dozens of sex tricks is the path to transcendence; that bondage is liberating. Under Cosmo’s creed, the degree to which girls and women conform to their pornified doctrine is the degree to which they have worth, when tragically the measure by which they master this doctrine is the measure by which they are debased. Some religion.

This got me thinking about the Christmas film classic It’s a Wonderful Life, which presents the story of George Bailey a man whose life choices made an indelible mark for good in the lives of countless residents in the fictional town of Bedford Falls. The story, in part, highlights George’s numerous battles with Mr. Henry Potter, a greedy, unscrupulous man, who is out only for himself. As the story progresses, George experiences a deep, personal crisis through which he is given the miraculous opportunity to see that the health, happiness, and prosperity of Bedford Falls has been saved through his actions; he learns that the community would have turned into “Pottersville”—a town full of corruption and vice—had it not been for his goodness and sacrifices.

This year, we too have been given the opportunity to see into another possible world—the world according to Cosmo. In this issue of Cosmopolitan we encounter yet another seedy, sleazy, exploitive “Pottersville” vision of reality, created by people to whom nothing is sacred except the money they rake in selling America’s girls and young women misleading, commercially-motivated messages that encourage a reckless and harmful sexuality.

ACTION:

This holiday season give a gift to yourself and all the women and girls you care about, by joining our “Cosmo-X-Vent.” From now until Christmas, send a daily tweet or Facebook post to @Cosmopolitan, and December cover model @carrieunderwood, telling Cosmopolitan to stop spewing their pornified sexuality and to keep their XXXs off our bodies and faiths.

Suggested Tweets:

  • @Cosmopolitan you send us smut, but we wish you light, hope, peace & joy. You don’t need XXXs to have a merry Christmas.
  • @Cosmopolitan you send us smut, but we wish you light, hope, peace & joy. You don’t need XXXs to have a happy Hanukkah.
  • @Cosmopolitan hoping you find you don’t need XXXs to find happiness and joy this holiday season.
  • @Cosmopolitan stop pornifying the sacred: our bodies and our faiths.
  • @Cosmopolitan keep your XXXs off our bodies and our faiths.
  • @Cosmopolitan Sex-Vent is creepy and demeaning! Is there anything you won’t sexualize?
  • @Cosmopolitan stop promoting pornified sexuality #cosmoharmsminors
  • @Cosmopolitan your articles promote risky and unhealthy sex to girls and women. Publish more responsible material. #cosmoharmsminors
  • @Cosmopolitan you owe America an apology. Stop pornifying women and our holidays. #cosmoharmsminors
  • @Cosmopolitan read the APA report on the harmful effects of the sexualization of girls: https://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf
  • @Cosmopolitan stop perverting Hanukkah and Christmas!
  • @Cosmopolitan Sex-Vent is tasteless, crass, and crude!
  • @Cosmopolitan we don’t need your Sex-Vent to have fulfilling sex lives.
  • @Cosmopolitan for happier sex life ditch Cosmo.
  • @carrieunderwood Please don’t pose for Cosmo again. They encourage girls and young women to engage in risky sexual behavior #cosmoharmsminors
  • @carrieunderwood You posed for a Cosmo edition that promoted pornified sexuality. Please be more responsible in the future! #cosmoharmsminors
  • @carrieunderwood read the APA report on the harmful sexualization of girls: http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx
  • @carrieunderwood Cosmo’s Sex-Vent pornifies Christmas and Hanukkah! Do you support this?
  • @carrieunderwood we don’t need Cosmo’s XXXs to have a merry Christmas.
  • @carrieunderwood Cosmo’s Sex-Vent is tasteless, crass, and crude! Is this also your idea of how to celebrate the holidays?
  • @carrieunderwood Cosmo betrays women’s and pornifies Christmas and Hanukkah. Is this what you stand for?

Lisa L. Thompson

Vice President of Research and Education

Lisa L. Thompson serves as the Vice President of Research and Education for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, where she oversees NCOSE’s strategic planning for increased public understanding of sexual exploitation related issues. To this end Lisa conducts analysis, develops research initiatives, and liaises with a wide-range of public officials, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher learning, and academics to generate collaborative action to combat the full spectrum of sexual exploitation especially as pertains to the harms of pornography, stripping, prostitution, and sexual trafficking.

Lisa joins the NCOSE following nearly two years with World Hope International (WHI), where as its Director of Anti-Trafficking, Lisa administered WHI’s anti-trafficking and sexual-violence recovery programs in Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Liberia and Sierra Leone. While working for WHI Lisa also served as a steering committee member of the Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAAST), a collaboration initiative she helped found, and as a reviewer for the Journal of Human Trafficking.

She has written on the subjects of sexual trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation for publications such as Christian History and Biography, Caring, Mutuality, PRISM, and Social Work and Christianity. Lisa is a contributing author to Hands that Heal: International Curriculum for Caregivers of Trafficking Survivors, as well as the book Global Perspectives on Prostitution and Sex Trafficking:  Europe Latin America, North America, and Global in which she contributed chapters about the use of torture by pimps, as well as the policy conflicts between sex trafficking abolitionists and HIV/AIDS advocates. She is the co-editor of a special anti-trafficking edition of the North American Association of Christians in Social Work journal Social Work & Christianity and has provided expert testimony to the U.S. Congress. Lisa routinely speaks about sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation (i.e. prostitution, pornography, stripping), and facilitates anti-trafficking training events for a diverse range of audiences.

Additionally, Lisa served for more than 12 years as the Liaison for the Abolition of Sexual Trafficking for The Salvation Army USA National Headquarters. In that role she pioneered strategies for The Salvation Army to create recovery services for survivors of sexual trafficking and advocated on public policy issues and initiatives related to combating sexual trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation. Lisa chaired The Salvation Army’s North American Anti-Trafficking Council and directed its Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking. Previous to her arrival at The Salvation Army, Lisa served as Policy Representative for the National Association of Evangelicals’ (NAE) Office for Governmental Affairs in Washington, DC, from 1998 to 2001. While there, she was heavily involved in NAE’s advocacy efforts seeking passage of legislation now known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. She has also worked for consulting firms managing Community Develop Block Grants programs in Kentucky, and taught English as a second language in the People’s Republic of China.

Lisa earned her Bachelor of Arts in Government from Western Kentucky University, and her Master’s degree in Leadership, Public Policy and Social Issues from Union Institute and University.

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