How Cosmopolitan Magazine Profited From Women’s Sexual Fantasies

The manosphere has been writing about women’s unrestrained sexual nature for years. If you include PUA material there’s more than a decade’s worth of writing. But that’s nothing compared to Cosmopolitan magazine.

Men have written about this subject for several reasons: to be better at seducing women, to avoid relationships with loose women, and to acknowledge women’s role in the cultural decline. But Cosmo writes about women’s sexual nature as both fantasy and prescription. Unfortunately for all, that fantasy has become a reality.

Cosmo And Women’s Lib

During WWII, while men were at war, women took on their roles in the workplace. This was to ensure that America was manufacturing all the equipment it would need to win at war as well as keep society operating. When men came home from war and went back to work most women reclaimed their roles as wives, mothers, and matrons. But not all women. Some women stayed in the workforce and more women joined them each year. As they worked with men in a man’s world they wanted to be treated like men and “succeed” on men’s terms.

In the 1960’s, Helen Gurley Brown became the editor of Cosmo. She saw the writing on the wall and transformed the magazine so that it could take advantage of the changing times. She presented the magazine in a way that acknowledged women’s work fantasies (climbing the corporate ladder, sitting at the board with the men) and their personal fantasies (guilt-free promiscuity).

By associating sex with work Brown eliminated women’s guilty feelings about sex. In doing so she further equated women in the workforce to men in the workforce by shifting reader’s perspectives on feminine roles in society. If a woman works like a man, she should be guilt free about her promiscuity like a man. What working girl wouldn’t want to read that?

“Cosmo Girls”

Cosmopolitan began writing about fictional and abstract Cosmo girls. A Cosmo girl is both a fantasy to the reader (because such a woman only exists happily in fiction) and a prescription (Cosmo advises women how to be Cosmo girls). They are best represented in pop culture in two places.

The first is the movie Pretty Woman. It’s a romantic story about a street hooker, very new to hooking, who takes a rich, handsome millionaire as her John. She works him so well that he hires her to give him the girlfriend treatment for a while. In that while, he falls in love with her and she with him. It’s a story of a working girl using sex to get ahead. She doesn’t feel bad about being a hooker. In a strange way, it makes her stronger or sexier or more empowered. In the end, she gets everything she wants.

The second example is Sex and the City. This show was about four working girls being promiscuous and discovering their own sexuality in the process. They learn something about themselves by boning various dudes. That self-discovery is empowering. In the meantime, they work, spend lavishly on clothes and eating out, take vacations, and have some of those various men fall in love with them.

The Readers

Initially, Cosmo’s readers differed from its content. Whereas articles might be about upper-middle-class single-and-loving-it types, the readers were quite different. Most of Cosmo’s audience was married women with jobs, not careers. They were clerical or service workers.

Cosmo first and foremost validated these women’s fantasies. Nowadays in the manosphere, we learn that women’s sexuality, without societal constraints, is hypergamous. Cosmo figured this out in the 60’s and sold women their own fantasies while encouraging them to pursue those fantasies.

What are these poor girls learning?

Women’s Sexual Fantasies

Helen Gurley Brown figured out how to sell sex to women while they waited in the checkout line at the grocery store. She did this by identifying what women want to be sexually; a “free-spirited sexual adventuress wheeling and dealing in a laissez-faire world of sexual market relations.” The female fantasy is to be able to use her sexuality in market transactions for gain. This is why some articles advise women on how to be a better sexual object and some a better sexual subject.

It teaches them how to be better sexual objects by advising them on ways to be hotter (workouts advise, make-up advise, clothing advise, how to pleasure a man advise, etc…). This also helps them sell ads for related products. The goal just below the surface of the text is for a woman to be able to make men lust for her so badly that she can take what she wants from them.

As a sexual subject, Cosmo tells women that they have freedom of sexual agency. They choose how many guys they want to bone, when they want to bone, how the boning will proceed, and what they expect in return for sex.

Keep in mind, the primary audience of Cosmo until recently was primarily working, married women.

What Cosmo Offered

More than anything, Cosmo sent the message to working women that to get ahead at work the ends justify the means. And that the best tool women have to achieve that end is their sexuality. Cosmo offered women the fantasy that they were justified in their promiscuity whether for business or for pleasure. It’s no wonder Cosmo became so popular and prophetic.

(For reference and further reading check out The “Cosmopolitan” Ideology and the Management of Desire by Kathryn McMahon originally published in The Journal of Sex Research in August of 1990.)

For more from Jared Trueheart on the roles of men and women I literature and film check out his writing at Legends of Men.

Read More: Why Do Women Have Rape Fantasies?

47 thoughts on “How Cosmopolitan Magazine Profited From Women’s Sexual Fantasies”

  1. From the article:

    They learn something about themselves by boning various dudes.

    No. They get boned by various dudes. (And learn nothing.)
    A female hasn’t got the equipment to “bone” anybody.
    Does no-one proofread this stuff?

    1. A woman being into magazines for women is a huge red flag. Someone has to be way dumb to waste their money on stuff like that.
      Here’s the thing: women are not supposed to be good or bad at sex. They’re submissive by nature. It is the man that decides how good the sex will be. The best sex I’ve had was with virgins or relatively inexperienced girls that were willing to lead me lead. The worst sex? With experienced women who thought they were pornstars.
      Women are too dumb to realize that their unrealistic expectations about life and themselves are forced onto them not by the evil heterosexual white man, but by (((certain people))) and their female slaves working at the staff of magazines like Cosmopolitan.

      1. Possibly the most grating thing female shills say to justify feminism is ‘choice.’ It’s my choice to have a career or stay at home.
        If I can’t hack it in the free market, I will lobby the government to force me into the corporate payroll (Affirmative Action) and also prevent them from firing me, while firing and underpaying my male betters for inadequacy (political-correctness).
        It is also my choice whether or not to carry a pregnancy (playing God to the unborn/partially-born) or to mother the child (safe-haven laws), but also receive subsistence for said child and a payday for getting laid in the first place (alimony/child support/welfare/evangelical charity).
        Sorry bitches. Many times you don’t even get a choice. You are dictated by circumstance. So this current cycle in the Cult of Womanhood (cyclically occurs every 300 years) will end spectacularly and you will be property of your fathers (not your choice) and husbands (also not your choice). Eventually this pagan worship of female fertility will expire.

        1. Well safe-haven laws are necessary evils to discourage the idiots from murdering their kids. & based on history, typically how long should we expect this current cycle to last?

        2. They are killing them anyway (abortion). Bu here’s the thing…yes, a lot of children will be killed if you remove women’s rights, but it will also remove these women from society. This is as difficult of a concept to articulate as it is to comprehend…
          Outlawing abortion and safe-haven laws will create societal austerity. Women WILL change their lifestyle because of it. All the hysteria about ‘back-alley’ abortion will occur on a much smaller level because very few women have the courage or strength to actually pull that off or infanticide. There aren’t enough resources and it is much easier to just have the child and deal with the consequences. Nature has a funny (not haha) way of correcting this bastardy. I also don’t think it will change the birthrate much because Eastern Europe has outlawed abortion and their birthrates are still plummeting.
          It’s no so much the act itself that is most troublesome. It is the ability of women to do whatever they want with other people’s lives. They have too many options with no ability to even control themselves. ‘Women’s rights’ infringes on everybody else’s.

      2. CuckSlayer,
        Your mistake is using white women, they are all bad at sex, including the hookers. Women outside the white world can be truly amazing at sex, you know nothing until you’ve had ‘crouching tiger’ and ‘reverse cowgirl’, something I’ve never experienced with a white girl, but almost every Asian girl will do on your first ‘date’ (pro or no).

    2. This was a good article, written by an intelligent philosopher. He was describing the implied message delivered by the harlots.

    1. First thing I thought was ‘why is there a chick this ugly and famous?”
      But the parenthesis clear it up, thanks

    2. I never understood how she became a sex symbol. She looked passable in “Striking Distance” with light-colored makeup and blonde hair, but that’s about it.

  2. Cosmo is proof that the same writers can repeatedly vomit the same crap on to the pages with slight edits, and make money off the rube and shallow vagina owners who will buy it up issue after issue KNOWING IT IS JUST THE SAME VOMITTED CRAP, over and over again…Definition of mental illness, reading and doing the same crap over again expecting different results. Keep in mind these same vagina owners look in the mirror and hear the “you go gurl” crap echoes and never heed a single word a man has uttered to them about WHAT GENUINELY WORKS FOR MEN TO BE ATTRACTED TO THEM.
    Yep, they all know better than the men around them, because other vagina owners told them so. Bitter angry fat n ugly because they listen to estrogen factories instead of the TESTOSTERONE OWNERS.
    Its working out just fine for them.
    You know how men invented lightbulbs? they paid attention to the vacuum space in womens heads, and BING, the burning filament in a vacuum came to fruition. Mankind hasn’t been in the dark since then. all it took was the dark empty vacuum of space between a vagina holders ears and in their eyes. That dull look of ” Duuuuuh, tingles!”…..

    1. The funny thing is though, is that same dull look of ” Duuuuuh, tingles!”….. never went away after artificial light intruded into the baby blues and green and browns, and thus mirrors and selfies took off.

    2. This is what I noticed w/the Lifetime channel. My mother & young, steadily becoming feminist & worthless, sister always used to watch it & I would always joke that Lifetime hires the same 3 screenwriters & utilizes them for every movie they produce. They were always silent when I said that & continued watching.

  3. WTF!! Sarah? She hit the wall bounced off it fell backwards fell off a cliff and landed on her face. Meth head or Zombie features?

    1. Not a strong comparison. Playboy is a porn magazine. Cosmopolitan sells itself as mainstream. Both are garbage by the way. But the latter is far more insidious exactly because it’s sold as a mainstream magazine i.e. normal, socially acceptable and nothing to be ashamed of.

      1. Playboy porn? Nah. Tastefully photographed nude or semi nude women, interspersed among short stories by famous writers, celebrity interviews and sundry “lifestyle” articles. Cosmo doesn’t have nudes, just articles on “10 ways to a better orgasm” rewritten each month.

  4. Cosmo sold women on the idea of being sexually adventurous, erotic free spirits. I’ve had sex with prostitutes, long and short term girlfriends and my wife. None of them are explorers of the sexual outer realms where fantasy and a spiritual loss of self spontaneously occur. Cosmo sucks.

  5. Unfettered sexual indulgence combined with material gain describes a very obnoxious person. If this is a woman, even doubly so.

  6. The only positive thing that can be said about Helen Gurley Brown is that she wasn’t a full-fledged manhater…unlike many in the sisterhood. Other than that the woman was a whore, and Cosmopolitan was and is a medium that promotes that lifestyle.

    1. The most devout feminists are hideous anyway, no wonder they are feminist man haters because no one save the most desperate would want to get near them.

    2. This transgendered dude named “Helen” has a surprisingly fem voice. I thought the voice stayed pretty much male in a m-f gender change.

  7. (workouts advise, make-up advise, clothing advise, how to pleasure a man advise, etc…).
    While I subscribe to your commentary in your essay here–and agree wholeheartedly that Sarah Jessica Parker is a horse-faced woman–your use of advise is incorrect.
    To advise someone is a verb and it means you give someone your advice.
    Therefore, you would give workouts ADVICE, make-up ADVICE, clothing ADVICE, hot to pleasure a man ADVICE, etc….
    You may or may not want to re-edit your article to reflect correct English, which will communicate your point more clearly.

  8. Fun fact: Victoria Hearst a born again Christian and heir to the Hearst empire sued her own family and effectively her own fortune to take cosmo off the shelves at Walmart. She won.
    Praise the lord.

  9. Listen to all you bitter basement virgins, upset that Matthew Broderick is banging one of the hottest properties in Hollywood. Don’t let your jealousy eat you up, beta boys, Broderick is proof positive that being a nice, normal, sensitive guy will get you any beautiful woman you set your eye on. You haven’t seen him working lately, have you? Why would he disrespect his wife like that? In acknowledgement of her slowing career due to Hollywood ageism, Broderick expresses solidarity and his feminist side by shying from the limelight. But he’s got more talent in his little finger than the entire readership of this blog! For Christ’s sake, the man was Ferris Fing Bueller! And he wound up boffing Carrie from Sex and the City!!! How could there possibly be a more euphoric ending to this lovely real world rom-com. She is the picture of elegance, class and beauty, while he mirrors the same qualities as a male. All you haters need to get your chakras checked and start living for laughter and light, then you will attract the best women that the state of California has to offer.

      1. Janis Levine, no doubt a troll, probably not even Jewish. Masculine phraseology, Gen X movie reference, most likely a middle aged homosexual. Everyone knows Matthew Broderick is a fag, and that SJP is a long time tranny, with “her” masculine man in the Moon profile.

    1. (((Broderick))) marries (((Parker))) in a synagogue.
      Both (((Weathy))) actors ……. who would have thunk it.
      Not sure I would call (((her))) class or beauty, looks more like a horse IMHO.
      Not sure any of us would ever manage to attract any of (((them))), even if we wanted, like Muslims they only marry within their own races/cultures.

  10. Cosmopolitan! Sounds sophistimacated. (((They))) sure are super smart and stuff.
    Verbally, anyway. Very cosmopolitan.

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