“Some Ohs and Plenty of Oohs”

I mean, does Joanna Coles, the editor of Cosmopolitan, give great quote? Yes. She does.

“I have no time for a debate,” said Coles. “I am too busy putting out a magazine and encouraging American women to have more and better orgasms.

Literally same.

In brief: Victoria Hearst, of the Hearst Corporation Hearsts, has found God (always in the last place you look, I hear) and it turns out God hates Ladies Who Know Where And How To Locate Their Clit. Hearst is working with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation not to shut down the magazine — that’s a step too far, presumably! — but instead to hide their salacious headlines from the prying, innocent eyes scanning past the glossy covers at your local Duane Reade or Wal-Mart.

Hearst offered to meet with Coles to debate the issue, and that’s how we, the people of The Internet, were blessed with the above quotation. I am impressed and inspired by her ability to so succinctly shut down censorship masquerading as religion.

This entire story is…fucked. For many reasons. Let me try to organize my thoughts. First, Cosmopolitan remains one of the most consistently profitable print publications on American newsstands today, a true feat for exactly the reasons Coles says this debate is ludicrous: if Hearst is so concerned about the children, doesn’t she realize they probably have even ~sexier~ content lying dormant in their unopened Snapchats at this very moment? So true! So wise! You could absolutely find — in my very humble opinion — much, much filthier writing about sex, both for the purposes of arousal and the purposes of education, than what is offered on a monthly basis in Cosmo.

Cosmo endures, I think, because of its cover lines. More so than any other technical skill, Cosmo knows how to bend their index finger and press on that mythical, hard-to-reach spot that gets people to arch their…wallets. And say yes…to paying $5 or $6 for a collection of pages that will, best case scenario, get read and disposed of within a matter of minutes. Their cover lines are snappy, satisfying, and yeah, a lot of them are sexy in a very incongruous way.

The above cover was one of the very first issues I ever bought with my own money — true story, it was money earned by working in the receptionist’s office of my Hebrew school, shout-out to Temple Emanuel for funding my perversions through my supplementary religious education! — and I still remember being 13 and terrified to even be holding it in my tiny hands. Later I would learn to recognize this feeling as “internalized shame” and overcompensate by holding eye contact for way too long when I bought condoms or Plan B or any other item that denoted persistent, planned, consensual sexual activity, because, ha ha, internalized shame just makes sex hotter, right? “I’m sorry,” I learned to say with my eyes, “I don’t have time to debate you on this. I’m too busy encouraging myself to have more and better orgasms.” Because: look at this fucking cover! “Push his pleasure buttons.” What does that even mean, my thirteen-year-old self wondered. I’m almost positive it was not about butt stuff, which is weird because that is the only physiological button men have, but, I mean, that was…16 years ago, lol. I could’ve repressed that memory, who knows.

Anyway!! Cover lines, in a newsstand context, are make-or-break for any publication, and Cosmo’s financial success depends on these strange yet sexual metaphors and winking yet indecipherable innuendos. They’re selling points absorbed in a manner so rapidfire you don’t even really know which one gets you or why. The important thing is that you’re picking it up.

So why does Victoria Hearst want to take away the one thing that has proven, demonstrable success in the frankly terrible modern newsstand marketplace? According to her:

Victoria, who admits she has pocketed millions in Hearst dividends over the years, insists, “I am not trying to put anyone out of business — they can still publish it, but it should carry a warning label like an X-rated movie or video game.”
Victoria insists that her campaign is not a vendetta against her far-flung family.
“I love my family,” she insisted. “I am not mad at anyone. This not a family feud or ‘Mommie Dearest.’”

I am loath to speculate on the motivations of a higher being, but I think her assertion that she is not trying to put anyone out of business is probably a…lie. Covering up Cosmo with a tangible form of shame, like a blinder or brown paper bag, would probably be the whiskey dick of their attempted consummation with readers. They would try and try and just be unable to close that sexy deal.

I feel slightly hypocritical getting so worked up over a magazine I don’t, to be honest, buy or read anymore. I loved reading Cosmo for a long time, but I stopped reading almost all magazines awhile ago; I started to feel like I had seen everything before, and I started to prefer asking my Sex Friends™ what they wanted rather than relying on mass-produced copy to tell me. But I am still, against my better judgement, in a very one-sided love affair with print media, and I am always, because of my excellent judgement, in a very one-sided love affair with women who are getting it and getting it on their own terms, so, like, cool it, Victoria Hearst. I’m going to eat a donut off a dick just to spite you.