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Op-Ed: Walmart Doesn’t Really Care About the Exploitation of Women

*This article is solely the opinion of the author and does not reflect the views of Lasell College or Her Campus.*



Last week, Walmart pulled Cosmopolitan from the checkout aisles of 5,000 stores following years-long pressure from The National Center on Sexual Exploitation. The activist group claims the magazine is “hyper-sexualized” and “degrading.” Well, like everything Walmart sells, I ain’t buying it.

Walmart is a notoriously conservative company, so it comes as no surprise to me that The National Center on Sexual Exploitation was able to coerce them into censoring female sexuality. However, I find it a little too convenient that this is happening during the height of the #MeToo movement. Personally I think this was planned. For those who don’t know much about Cosmo or Walmart, it sounds like a great, women-empowering thing to do, but its not. Especially since Walmart has no problem exploiting small businesses, child laborers overseas, female and disabled store employees, and animals.

So why Cosmo? This publication is all about empowerment, not exploitation. The magazine is written and created (mostly) by women, for women. The cover stars are consenting. They believe in the message Cosmo sends. They are not being harassed or used solely as a marketing scheme. However, The National Center on Sexual Exploitation claims that the publication targets young women. While some of Cosmo’s featured stars have wide audiences that dip into the young teens, it’s obvious that it is not a magazine for them. According to Cosmo’s press kit, the majority of its readers are 18-34 years old. If someone who is much younger than 18 is reading a magazine like Cosmo, that’s an issue between the parent and child.

Why isn’t The National Center on Sexual Exploitation concerned about the Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition?  A magazine that uses the female body as a marketing trap for young men. A magazine that is sold right up front, mixed in with Time and National Geographic. What about Vogue, a magazine that was famous for its relationships with sexual harassers (and fashion photographers) Terry Richardson, Mario Testino and Bruce Weber?

Another concern that seems reasonable to some, is that the covers are explicit, but they aren’t. Clothing wise, the models are wearing about the same amount of clothing a woman would wear to the beach. As for the concept of sex, it’s nothing a child hasn’t been exposed to through One Direction songs or shampoo commercials. If anything, they care more about the candy that’s up front. Not the magazines.

If they are old enough to ask questions about it, then it’s probably time that the parents start introducing age-appropriate conversations about sex and sexuality. After all, they are the ones in charge here. Not Cosmo, and certainly not Walmart.



Raegan Cleary is a senior at Lasell College studying Fashion Communication and Promotion. She likes French Bulldogs and long walks to Chipotle. In addition to Her Campus shes been doing theatre for eight years and this spring she'll be in her fourth production of Vagina Monologues. In the future she'd love to become the next Miranda Priestly or the frontwoman in a girl-punk band.
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