Reasons NOT to trust Cosmo With Your Sex Life

 

 

Cosmopolitan magazine is, for many of us, a guilty pleasure. But after being a loyal reader since high school and developing a stack of Cosmo mags so heavy it could break my shelf, I have learned quite a few things about Cosmo as I got older that now, I can't really stomach.

1) Cosmo repeats the same "Sex Tips" in almost every issue. Taking advantage of our desperation to be "good lovers", Cosmo makes money off of the "100 Best Sex Tips" in one issue (see above picture), "50 Ways to Seduce a Man", "50 Kinky Sex Moves" "52 Sex Moves", "75 Sex Moves", "50 Sex moves", "25 Sex Moves"... Do you catch on?

2) It Prioritizes Men Over Women. Everything in Cosmo is about making yourself appear sexier, skinner, and more domesticated for men. Are you marriage material? Do you pass on his girlfriend checklist? “Be the Eest He's Ever Had”- how about how to make him the best you've ever had?

3) Cosmo shames women into having sex when they don't want to. Talk about lack of consent. In reading Cosmo I've come across many instances where Cosmo tells us it's not okay to not have sex with your man. If you're tired, one issue said to do jumping jacks to get into the mood. Another said to just do it and you'll feel better after. One said wearing sexy lingerie would boost your own libido when you don't want to have sex. Another? Let him touch you, you'll want it.

4) Cosmo teaches us unrealistic ideas about sex. I don't know of many men who want to be tied up by a scarf and coated in hot wax. Nor do I know anyone who enjoys having ice cubes slide down their chest. Does my boyfriend really care if I wear pajamas to bed and do I have to be a bad girl to keep him from straying? And does he really want me to do that new trick? I think all it did was scare him.

5) Categorizing what is "Trashy" and "Classy" reinforces sexual stereotypes about women that are damaging and make us self-police ourselves. That Trashy/Classy list is made by a group of editors who are older than the readers themselves and therefore get to decide what is trashy and classy according to their generation and upbringings. Things that they label as trashy makes us self-police, constantly forcing us to watch and monitor ourselves- what we do, how we act and react, how we dress, and what we say. If wearing bright pink lip gloss makes me “trashy”, I guess it is what it is.

6) Acting like a man still won't make you a man. Cosmo teaches us that kind of attitude that Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City once had in regards to sex: do it like a man. Yes, Cosmo advocates for sex-positivism. Yes, it teaches us to be "Bitches" in our lives and sometimes at work. But honestly, I can get things done effectively without being labeled a "Bitch". After all, you don't call men who take charge "Bastards".

7) Cosmo reinforces heteronormativity and male-female relationships. The only time the word lesbian is brought up, it is in the confessional or a feature that talks about one girl’s experience with girls during a wild night back in college. That is not a lesbian experience, nor is it reality. The magazine does not take into account that many of its readers are gay, and causes a great exclusion. After all, then, this cannot be a “women’s magazine” if it doesn’t include all women. This is not just Cosmo’s flaw- maybe women’s magazines cater to heterosexual women too, using “lesbianism” as a way to spice up their magazines through straight women’s experiences.

8) There are no women of colour in this magazine. Yes, I saved the best for last. Cosmo is based on a middle-class educated white woman's experiences. This makes it one-dimensional woman’s magazine. Once in awhile you get a coloured model in a feature, but it's rare. When, for example, a Black model is featured, she is light-skinned, or extremely dark and placed in animal prints and unflattering make-up colours as if her skin is a canvas. Coloured women’s experiences- whether it be Black, Asian, Hispanic, or Blended, vary from white women's based on intersecting complexities of race, class, location, religion, culture and sex. It has even been proven that in cases of domestic violence, counselors do not have the tools needed to deal with women of colour’s experiences- the model is based on middle-class white women. Therefore, as a woman of colour reading Cosmo, I often have found that none of my experiences are incorporated in Cosmo.