Censoring Cosmo Magazine

Censoring Cosmo

I just happened upon this article about a petition circulating to censor Cosmo. If the authors of this petition have their way–and if the already 33,000 signatures have any say–the magazine will be packaged in non-transparent wrapping and not sold to anyone under the age of 18. This is supposed to help in cutting down the negative consequences of following Cosmopolitan’s advice on sex–because that’s what this is really about.

So, what do think about this? Let’s talk about the implication of distributing messages on sex and sexuality in the media to young people. Let’s even talk about the implication of these messages on the sexual identity of adults. Are you pro-censorship or anti-censorship? What role do parents play?


  1. From the male perspective, I think that if a female minor wants to have sex with a male minor, that’s all the male minor needs. There are no “sex tips” that are needed to convince the male to have sex with the female. Intercourse alone is enough, in the parlance of these magazines, “to rock his world.”

    While Cosmo and similar magazines may give advice on sex, there is a distinction between telling someone how to have sex, and telling someone they should have sex (something I imagine many of the petition-signers are blind to seeing). These magazines sell sexual advice to women who have already decided to have sex. If a minor wants to have sex, and he or she can find a willing partner, he or she usually will. Putting black plastic around Cosmo like it is Penthouse isn’t going to stop it.

    Finally, as is always my position when it comes to parenting, pay better attention to your kids. It is not the writer, nor the editor, nor the publisher, nor the retailer’s responsibility to make sure your child doesn’t know about how to “make your man happy.”


    • Brad, I agree with everything you have said and I believe you make an important point with the distinction between telling someone how to have sex and telling someone they should have sex. I think the one problem that magazines like Cosmo presents is that while they aren’t explicitly telling young women to have sex, they are implicitly telling them that sex is normative and necessary for the thriving of relationships. For a young woman encountering Cosmo and looking at the coverlines, they see more of the message of how to have sex and as way to keep a relationship. This will be a ridiculous example but let the ridiculousness ensue, I was watching an episode of Felicity and the resident advisee of one of the characters was having trouble with her boyfriend and decided that she would consult a Cosmo-like magazine that told her all she should do to keep him–which included sexual things. Now she did those things and experienced some success until she didn’t. All that to say that while I agree that Cosmo is not encouraging anyone to have sex, it has a particular treatment of sex that makes women think that sexual prowess is primary to relationship longevity–or even livelihood as a woman. But, I also guess what a young woman does with that information is her business…


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