A View from Riverside drive, Commentary by Ed Hynes, July 2006
In the porn wars, Cosmo is part of the problem
You might remember when it was considered chic to smoke cigarettes. Everyone did it. Then the Surgeon General confirmed what everyone at least suspected: smoking is addictive and can kill you. We couldn’t duck the facts anymore, despite denials, cynicism and disinformation from the tobacco companies.
Our instinct for health was defeated by our addiction to tobacco. A lot of people still struggle with that addiction and its devastating effects.
It’s like that today with pornography.
In place of the tobacco wars we have the pornography wars. Because of pornography, the popular instinct for decency coexists uneasily with a pop culture that promotes immodesty and promiscuity. The porn racketeers want us to believe recreational sex is chic. And they want us addicted to their product.
Confronted by evidence that pornography is addictive and destructive of families and careers, the porn producers and distributors respond with denials, cynicism, and disinformation. In a ludicrous posture of self-righteousness, they condemn child pornography for the evil it is and assert that their filth is okay. They say rapists can’t use pornography as an excuse for their crimes, ignoring the connections that police see all the time.
We can hope that the pornographers will lose this war just as the tobacco companies lost theirs. The tobacco companies were, at least, selling a legal product. The porn racketeers, on the other hand, break the law whenever they distribute obscene adult pornography and child pornography, and when they distribute obscene-for-minors pornography to minors. The wonder and shame is that federal and state obscenity laws have not been enforced as vigorously as they might be and once were. The laws on the books could serve society’s instinct and need for decency, if only the prosecutors would prosecute.
In the pornography wars, Cosmopolitan magazine is part of the problem. Cosmo not only reflects the influence of pornography but also includes content that is pornographic and contains ads for pornography.
Your supermarket and drug store can be part of the solution.
They can help by taking Cosmopolitan and other offensive, demeaning, objectifying and infectious magazines out of the checkout lanes, or by shielding their lewd and salacious cover material with blinders racks, or by putting them elsewhere in their stores away from families and children at the checkout. They might, as an alternative, just stop selling them.
Any of these actions would blunt the pro-promiscuity propaganda these magazines project, would restore an atmosphere of decency to the shopping experience, and would protect innocent children from messages about sex they and their parents are not ready to deal with.
In an effort to get the supermarkets to take one or another of these actions, Morality in Media and the American Decency Association sent a joint letter June 27 to 558 store executives, urging them to “stop displaying magazines with blatantly sexual cover headlines at checkout counters.” The letter was signed by Robert Peters, president of Morality in Media, and Bill Johnson, president of the American Decency Association.
In the letter, they wrote, “A captive audience, regardless of age, shouldn’t be required to pass through a gauntlet of smut to purchase necessities, and children shouldn’t be able to purchase smut anywhere.”
They also cautioned the executives that selling such magazines to children might violate state “harmful to minors laws.”
They wrote, “We ask you to either cover up the sexually offensive headlines and photos on the front covers of magazines displayed at checkout lanes or to display them elsewhere. We also ask you to adopt a policy of not selling sexually offensive magazines to children.”
In the July 2006 issue, Cosmopolitan ran these cover headlines:
62 SEX MOVES
Guys Share Tons of Totally Original and Mind-Blowing Tips
Are You Ever a Bitch?
Secret Reasons Guys Love It
7 HOT BEDROOM GAMES
The MIM/ADA letter quoted segments from the July issue that supported the headlines. The letter is available on request from MIM [at email@example.com] and ADA but will not be posted at either organization’s website because of explicit language quoted from Cosmopolitan.
Here are edited excerpts from the letter:
In the “62 SEX MOVES” article we find “moves” like these. . .
“The night I got my promotion, my girlfriend said she was going to xxxxx all night.”
“There’s something so taboo about giving a girl xxxxx.”
“This chick leaned against the dresser and xxxxx. I obliged. . .”
“My girl xxxxx in a semi-public place. The risk…triggers an insane orgasm.”
“I go wild when a girl xxxxx the xxxxx of my xxxxx while running her nails xxxxx.”
In “Bedroom Games” girls learn. . . to play “Dirty Dice” and “Lusty Lit”…
For “Dirty Dice,” all they have to do is, “Write down…numbers…on a sheet of paper. Next to each number, you and your man should jot down a sex act that you both love (or would love to try). Then roll the dice and play out the move…”
For “Lusty Lit,” all lustful youth will need is “racy books.” They then, “Flip through one of the books until you come across a steamy sex scene. Take turns reading it aloud to each other… then act out the scene, making sure to duplicate every delectable detail.”
Lest young readers be forced to search far and wide for a “racy” book, an excerpt from…“Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights,” is reprinted at page . . .
. . . [I]n the Classifieds section, we find…ads for “adult sex toys,” “spanking erotica,” “bondage gear,” “adult movies,” and “Free Sex & Love Techniques.” The latter ad points readers to a website where they can receive, without proof of age, access to “Adult Sex Ed” materials.”
When a retired law enforcement agent, now a consultant for MIM, went to this website and clicked the word “Cunnilingus,” he observed. . . a photo that “depicted a naked female lying on her back with her right leg lifted near her right breast as a male engaged in oral/vaginal sex upon her genitals”… Some may call that “Adult Sex Ed,” but we call it “pornography.”
That’s pornography made available at the family supermarket.
You can help change that. Complain to the store manager of the supermarket or drug store or other retailer where Cosmo and the others are displayed. Just tell them you’re disgusted and hope they will remove those magazines from the checkout lane or put them behind blinder racks. You might be surprised at how effective that can be.
You will find a sample letter and sample petition to your local store manager on the www.moralityinmedia.org website (at theOffensive Magazines at Supermarket Checkout Counters page). If that doesn’t work, write to the store headquarters.”