July 11, 2015

Why Cosmo’s Content Matters

Fun, fearless feminism.” That’s the category that Cosmo Magazine claims their content fits. However, a second glance at this magazine proves the opposite.

Cosmo’s written content is sexually explicit.

Cosmopolitan Magazine is an erotic tabloid with “Try It Yourself” advice, advertising many dangerous sexual practices that are harmful for anyone attempting them, but especially for the young readers Cosmo tends to draw in. For example, Cosmo blatantly encourages readers to engage in sex positions (The Cosmo Sex Challenge: 77 Positions in 77 Days) that are harmful to both men and women. Cosmo encourages readers to have hookup sex with strangers, attend sex parties, attempt positions that are known to leave physical damage, and more. Many doctors have advised against these “tips” from Cosmo, yet their words of warning remain silenced and ignored.

And what about the “lighter” material they feature? Just a few of Cosmo’s recent articles include “What Men Want,” “What Your Birthday Says About Your Sex Life,” “8 Everyday Situations That Are Only Sexy in Porn” and “19 Signs He Wants You.” Cosmo seems to only care what men think about women and how “sexy” one is.

The magazine claims to market to women aged 18 to 34, but pre-teen and teen girls are some of Cosmo’s most avid readers. It would seem that Cosmo is seeking out this specific market given the bright bubblegum colors and teen superstars often featured on the cover. One can strongly make the case that the “advice” these young girls are receiving from Cosmo contributes to the increasing instances of sexual exploitation in our culture. These girls enter dangerous situations because Cosmo has made it all seem fun, fearless and what all women do.

Cosmo encourages its readers to sexualize first and ask questions later. In an article entitled, “Cosmopolitan Culture: The Cosmopolitan Ethos Reflected in Digital Media” Erin Brook says that the very spirit and identity of Cosmo is sexualization:

“The media reflects the Cosmopolitan ethos though representing women, in this case visually, as sexual objects. This mainstream media permeates into global culture, effecting the way in which women are treated and perceived in society.”

As Brook says, Cosmo is contributing to society’s harmful perception of women. Essentially, Cosmo portrays women as a vending machine for sexual pleasure and pretty much everything else in life as a tool to be used in order to become as sexy as humanly possible.

For example, one of Cosmo’s many articles on boosting sex appeal is entitled, “9 Foods That Make You Even Sexier.” In the article, it is stated that foods such as yogurt, kidney beans, and celery are “seduction-boosters.” Seriously, who ever thought celery or kidney beans could be sexy? Yet again, Cosmo is endeavoring to sexualize everything, distracting readers from the good benefits of healthy food (i.e. increased energy, stronger immune system, etc.) to telling young minds that certain foods will help them become more seductive.

Cosmo mainstreams and glamorizes porn.

Cosmopolitan normalizes pornography. When countless young people observe scantily clad women posing pornographically on the covers and throughout Cosmo magazine, or read Cosmo’s defenses of porn, they become desensitized to explicit sexual content. In part thanks to Cosmo, softcore porn has become a normal part of life for today’s youth.

Cosmo is one of the culprits of today’s “pornified” culture. It is no wonder that today’s generation is facing problems with unprecedented pornography addiction. An article on ProtectKids.com explains why soft porn is detrimental to young eyes.

As more and more children are exposed not only to soft-core pornography, but also to explicit deviant sexual material, they are learning an extremely dangerous message from pornographers: Sex without responsibility is acceptable and desirable. Because pornography encourages sexual expression without responsibility, it endangers children’s health.

Cosmo projects a persona that communicates that women are objects to be used for sex, and the sexier and more alluring a woman is, the greater amount of success she will have, not only in her love life but professionally, physically, and emotionally. Essentially, Cosmo has communicated to this generation that sex appeal is the most important quality a person can possess.

Evidence that demands action.

Cosmo is not at all about fun, fearless feminism. Its content is dangerous and demeaning to all women.

Because Cosmo is contributing to the sexually exploitive porn culture, it stands to reason that Cosmo’s content should be limited to adults only. Not all that long ago, parents and societal leaders demanded that movies and shows be reviewed so that children could be protected, and thus the Motion Picture Association of America was established. Other pornographic magazines are covered in retail shops and not sold to minors. Let’s call and treat Cosmo like what it is – another porn mag.

Our children deserve to be protected from the mental, emotional, and physical harm that magazines like Cosmo can bring. Make your voice heard, and join the movement to make Cosmo accountable. Visit CosmoHarmsMinors.com to contact Cosmo executives and retailers.

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Rachel del Guidice

Intern

Rachel del Guidice is an intern at NCSE. She is a senior at Franciscan University of Steubenville where she is Communication Arts Major with a concentration in Journalism. She is dedicated to bring about a culture where objectification of both men and women is not tolerated and where all people are appreciated for their character rather than physical appearance or social status.

Further Reading