Cliterary Theory: the problem with Cosmopolitan magazine

Student Life

Ah, Cosmopolitan. The world may know it as Cosmo, but I prefer to keep things formal with this distinguished publication. It’s got gravitas, after all. This month, it’s been busy promoting female autonomy where it really matters (“Sexy hair: Up-dos, down-dos, long or short. You choose.”), and correcting misconceptions about contemporary public figures (“Miley: The interview that will change your mind!”). It’s a miraculous publication, and, being my primary source of sexual information during the wasteland of puberty, is held dear in my heart. Most girls seem to have this attitude. We all hate the incessant exclamation marks, the relentlessly awful choice of “red hot fashions”, and the rather dubious selection of adverts (“Lambrini – the hottest ticket in town” sits incongruously opposite a feature on how to do well at work). But it’s hard to resist. Even the most hard-line of my feminist friends were taken in by the instructions on “How to decode his facial hair”. It feels as if, just for a moment, we can leave the essays, drop our IQ by a good twenty points, and fit neatly into an absurdly reductive identity, concerning ourselves solely with men, babies, and whatever shoes are totally hot right now. However, what has disillusioned me to this otherwise sterling brand is the sex tips. There’s always some sort of feature, promoted conspicuously on the cover. This month, it’s “7 Ways to Blow His Mind in Bed”, right after a five page piece on newlywed men killing their wives. The “tips” are basic, to say the least. Essentially, Cosmo instructs its readers to touch their men’s ears, lips, neck, nipples, chest, inner thighs and “the obvious” (because saying the word “cock” would be a bit too much, clearly).


My personal favourite, though, has to be the explanation of why to touch his chest, which reads, “Touching him here makes him feel more masculine in a chest-thumping, caveman kind of way”. Good to know. There also seems to be an irresistible urge to illustrate the tips with an array of pseudo-scientific detail. We’re told that the inner thighs are good for a grope, because that’s where the “large obturator nerve” is located, making the area highly sensitive. However, I’m not fully confident in this advice, having read one article in a previous issue which stated that putting your fingers up a man’s bum would stimulate his pituitary gland. I’m no biologist, but I’m guessing that if your fingers are getting anywhere near the pituitary gland, you’ve gone too far. The feature is illustrated by a stock image of a shirtless smouldering man, who appears to be wearing some sort of middle-aged woman’s support pants. Arrows direct us to the relevant parts we’re being instructed to stroke, lick and suck, presumably in case we got confused and thought his nipples were next to his feet. Elsewhere, the fun continues. Particular illuminating is the agony aunt sex therapist page. One poor woman writes in to confess that, aged 22, she’s never had an orgasm. The answer, apparently, is to commit, with grim determination, to regular masturbation. “Tense your thighs and buttocks”, she’s advised, “and persevere”. Oh Cosmo. I’m just not sure I have the strength any more.


PHOTO/Liberty Grace

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