- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2000

It seems impossible to go through a supermarket checkout line without being confronted by magazine covers like January's Cosmopolitan, offering "Sex Tricks Only Cosmo Would Know: 20 Earth-Quaking Moves That Will Make Him Plead for Mercy and Beg for More."

The Kroger grocery chain has, mercifully, decided to install racks that conceal such lurid stuff from general viewing. Perhaps some day it will be safe again to take our daughters to the grocery store.

What is the point of parents and educators telling girls that they can be valued for their character, their minds and their achievements, when the newsstands are full of magazines displaying near-naked supermodels and telling girls that their true worth is their ability to master "earth-quaking moves"?

Scarcely had my daughter learned to read than I found myself troubled by what she was seeing on women's magazine covers at the checkout lines. A child with a knowledge of phonics can figure out what "s-e-x" spells and according to Cosmo, Glamour and other women's magazines "s-e-x" and "d-i-e-t" are the most important things in a woman's life.

Is this what the feminist movement and "liberation" was about? Did women say good-bye to domestic drudgery so they could suffer anorexia and cosmetic surgery? Was it more degrading for our mothers to be judged by how shiny their floors were than it is for our daughters to be judged by their ability to perform exotic sexual tricks?

If America's feminists wish to strike a blow for women, they should stop militating about Washington politics long enough to go up to New York and yank a knot in the heads of some of the magazine editors who are pouring this trash into the minds of girls. The Taleban in Afghanistan does not oppress women as much as this glossy monthly drumbeat of fad diets, sleazy sex advice and fashion tips. Thinner thighs, glitzy wardrobes and making men "beg for more" this is freedom? This is equality?

(The sex advice offered by these magazines is reliably bad. Of Cosmo's "20 Favorite Sex Tips Ever," more than half of them are idiotic, several would positively turn off most men, and nearly all of them are from women "experts." Question: If women wish to know how to make sex pleasurable for a man, wouldn't it make sense to ask some men about it?)

Contrary to what Cosmo tells women, decent men do not value women for their mastery of arcane sexual techniques. Especially if their object is to find a loving, lasting relationship with a decent guy, women would be well advised to ignore all that kinkiness Cosmo dishes up month after month. That's not what love is made of.

Ditto the slutty morality purveyed by Cosmo. In "Romance Rules for the New Millennium," Cosmo claims to have surveyed "19,000 single, smart, date-worthy guys" and produced tips for women like Rule No. 13, which advises that guys "won't … respect her any less" if she has sex on the first date.

Such nonsense calls to mind the scene in "Gone With the Wind" where Mammy tells Scarlett: "What gentlemen says and what they thinks is two different things." Maybe it's true that 58 percent of "single, smart, date-worthy guys" told Cosmo they respect a girl who puts out on the first date. News flash: Men lie. Men lie about sex, and they lie to get sex. No woman ever earned a man's respect by being easy.

These magazines degrade women more effectively than the smut produced by Larry Flynt, because Cosmo and its ilk make a pretense of offering friendly advice, woman-to-woman. But what kind of woman would offer her friend advice on how to pick up a guy by lying about who you are (Cosmo, January, Page 208)?

A woman obsessed with losing 10 pounds (Page 82) or desperately seeking "love, lust, and adventure" (Page 134) is not liberated, she's enslaved. The TV stereotype of a 1950s housewife, with her quest for the perfect pot roast and her endless battle against ring-around-the-collar, was less pathetic than today's "Cosmo girl" and her pitiful pursuit of a "flat tummy" (Page 81) and a sexual "quickie" (Page 155).

It's a free country, and people can publish or read what they want. But as a father whose daughter is approaching the cusp of womanhood, I have a stake in the dignity of women something the editors of Cosmo are doing their best to destroy.

E-mail:

mccain@twtmail.com

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