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April 5, 2009

Nice try Cosmo, but no...

As you know, we love to hate Cosmopolitan. We usually buy an issue when we travel together (like, say, on a long train ride to Boston)... partly for entertainment purposes and partly for research. We rarely read Cosmo, but when we do we almost always find at least two offensive articles to critique on the blog. (Evidence: here and here).

We had already been "tipped off" to some lousy dating advice (shocker) in the April 2009 issue, so we - of course - wanted to read it for ourselves. And then we saw "15 Things You Should Never Apologize For". Upon an initial skimming of the list, we were actually thinking wow, did Cosmo actually write something good for once!? The answer would be no. Upon further investigation the list was totally fucked up.

Yes, these are things you should never apologize for... but the reasons given were way way off. Reading it went sort of like this: "Word! ...Oh, wait, never mind... ." So I'm going to include our commentary in orange (in honor of the cover image this month, heh).

15 Things You Should Never Apologize For
by Holly Eagleson

Saying sorry for this stuff undermines mea culpas when you do mean them. These are times it's better to be bitchy.
Who said anything about being bitchy? We're definitely against unnecessary apologizing, but none of the examples given merit bitchiness either. Once again Cosmo gives us only two extreme female stereotypes: the doormat and the bitch.

1. Ordering a Real Dessert: You don’t work your ass off on the stair climber just to settle for pansy low cal sorbet.

How bout, order a real dessert, because it's okay to fucking order dessert... because it's okay to eat food you like without feeling guilty... because your weight isn't the most important thing about you. Nope, according to Cosmo you don't have to apologize for ordering dessert as long as you're doing something to make up for it - so those of you not compulsively exercising, you should feel bad about it.

2. Someone Else’s Bad Day: A friend snaps at you and you’re expected to say sorry? Exactly where is the logic in that?

Were women actually under the impression that you're "expected" to say sorry when someone snaps at you? Thank you Cosmo for setting us straight. (Duh). Also, I think there has to be some differentiation made between an apology and sympathy. It's okay to feel sorrowful for someone's bad mood, without implying that you're to blame for it.

3. Ditching a Bad Lover: Look, sex is important. If you’ve given him a fair shot at pleasing you, free the man.

Again, this is one of those almost good ones. They're right - you shouldn't feel bad for caring about sex (ahem) but something about the language just makes me wonder... "you've given him a fair shot at pleasing you". What exactly constitutes a fair shot? Since it's Cosmo, I get the impression that the man is just supposed to automatically know how to please you, but really, shouldn't you play a part in 'teaching' him how to please you? Maybe he just hasn't read Cosmo's "50 Sex Tips". But seriously... sex is important and if you're not compatible, it's totally okay to move on... however, sometimes it does take time to learn each other's, um... 'ins and outs' (pun intended).

4. Having a Crazy Family: Give your guy a heads up about them, but never insinuate that their problems taint you.

I guess it depends on Cosmo's definition of "crazy". This bugs me only because it suggests that you would imply that your family's problems taint you, or rather, that your guy would infer it. On the other hand, maybe some of their problems do "taint" you... but if your family is still in your life (that is, if they're not so "crazy" that you've become estranged) then anyone who wants to be in your life has to accept that they come with the full package.

5. Buying Into Your Horoscope: Like news blogs, it helps you (Leo) see the world a bit differently. It also confirms you were right in leaving your ex (a Taurus).

I'm not going to say that horoscopes are total bullshit, but I think comparing them to news blogs is quite a stretch. And what if your ex is an Aries - does that mean you should get back together!? Astrology is widely accepted, but let's not mistake actual astrology for the cheesy fake horoscopes in the back of magazines. Let's take a look at one of Cosmo's own "predictions":

You love nice things. Consider splurging on luxe lingerie courtesy of decadent Uranus. [Capricorn, 04/03/2009]
Aside from the immature kid in me cracking up over the idea of getting lingerie for Uranus... "You love nice things"? Oh my god... how could they know I loved nice things? It must be real! Yeah. It's perfectly fine to read your Cosmo horoscope for fun and it's okay to "buy into" real astrology. But use your brain and understand the difference.

6. Really Wanting a Boyfriend: It’s taboo for strong women to admit this, but so is not going after what you truly desire.

Although I kind of agree with this concept, the phrasing of this just really rubs me the wrong way. It's fine to want to find love, but they make it sound like all strong women secretly just want to land a man (or woman, if Cosmo would acknowledge that lesbians do exist). We don't admit it because it's so taboo, so we'll just stay single rather than have to go after what we want. It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that we don't just want any boyfriend, but the right one. I mean, "going after what you truly desire" is sometimes easier said than done. But I do agree that it's okay to want someone to share your life with. Part of being a strong woman is knowing that you don't need that.

7. Being a Self Promoter: Trumpet a career coup in your Facebook status, cause there’s no glory in tiptoeing to the top.

We are definitely no strangers to the concept of shameless self-promotion. However "trumpeting a career coup in your Facebook status" (which is just a hilarious phrase by the way) isn't promotion. It's bragging. Bragging is also okay, but with some tact.

8. Investing in Your Looks: It's about feeling confident, not about doing yourself up to land a man. And it makes facials, the gym, and a hot LBD worth every cent.

I don't actually disagree with this one completely. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look a certain way or being confident about your appearance. But something about the phrase "investing in your looks" bothers me, as if it's something you have to spend time and money on in order to feel confident.

Yes, it's okay to want to look good (whatever "looking good" means to you) and you shouldn't have to apologize for going to the gym or wearing makeup or buying a dress that makes you feel great... but confidence also comes from within. You can feel confident about your looks even if you don't "invest" in them and you might have low self esteem no matter how many facials you get, so don't forget to invest in other areas of your life as well as your looks.

9. Having a High “Number”: Let’s quit the slut shaming and start honoring those bed skills that curl your man’s toes.

Honestly, we were so psyched at the fact that Cosmo used the term "slut-shaming". And then... we kept reading. Basically, it's okay if you're a slut as long as you used your sluttiness to learn to better please your man. Because god forbid you have a high "number" because you just enjoy sex for the sake of your own pleasure.

10. Changing Your Mind: You were vegan, but then you ate che’vre. Call it a religious conversion, not a silly phase.

It's not a religious conversion. It's fucking cheese. If you feel strongly about being a vegan, that's great. And if you decide that being a vegan isn't for you, that's fine. If you realize that your veganism was just a silly phase (because for some people it is), that's fine too. It's okay to change your mind, but it's also okay to have a little slip up sometimes. So you ate some che'vre, if veganism is still important to you - consider it a momentary lapse and move on.

11. Being Inexperienced: That doesn’t mean you lack great ideas. So stop prefacing them with “This is dumb, but…”

I don't think calling your ideas dumb is necessarily synonymous with apologizing for your inexperience. (I don't think you should feel the need to do either, but I was just taking a moment for semantics there). Honestly, this one is pretty good advice... The only additional info I could offer would be to avoid the other extreme: thinking that you know it all when you don't. That is, sometimes your "great ideas" aren't going to be that great and you need to be strong enough to accept when your inexperience does matter and not take criticism personally.

12. Hoping Your Children Will Be Cuter Than Your Friends': Honestly, your pals are hoping the same thing.

I don't know how to respond to this one. I really don't. Cosmo just assumes that all women are shallow and care about looks so much that we must extend that to our children as well. I mean, forget hoping that your kids are happy and healthy... they have to be cute!!

13. Sticking to a Budget: If your pal doesn’t get that you can’t afford to fly to her bachelorette party, wedding and three showers, you’re not the greedy bitch here.

I just find this example to be so stupidly extreme. Not only does it suggest that we'd be friends with someone so self-centered that she'd actually call a friend a greedy bitch for not being able to afford all that... but it also reinforces that annoying Bridezilla stereotype. Who has three showers? (Or at least, who has three showers and expects someone to attend all of them?) Then on the other side, it suggests that the bride is a greedy bitch because she happened to plan a wedding that was outside your means (but within her own). How about neither of you are a greedy bitch?

14. Only Doing Things Online That You’d Do in Real Life: Doesn’t matter if winking is a dating site norm. It’s as lazy and cheesy as spray can cheddar.

What does that even mean? (There's got to be some weird grammatical error in that sentence, no?) We shouldn't apologize for not wanting to wink online, because we don't wink in real life? And the reason is because winking is lazy and cheesy? Huh?

Emoticons - no matter how cheesy- do serve a purpose. Real life interactions are different than online ones... they include tone of voice, facial expression, body language, and other cues. Online interactions lack all of that, so throwing in a wink or some other gesture that you might not do in real life, helps get your message across more clearly. And damn you Cosmo for making me defend emoticons! It's completely and totally okay to choose not to use them, so you shouldn't have to apologize for that. (Not that anyone has ever been forced to apologize for their lack of winking). However does Cosmo think that winking online is something that women should apologize for? You know, because they're so lazy and cheesy. And why all the spray-can cheddar hating? Some people like it. Um, not that I'm one of them... ;-)

15. Being Happy: Times suck, you get it. But you love your job or have found The One. Relish it while it’s yours.

This one is pretty good. You do NOT have to apologize for being happy! My only criticism would be: why did they need to reinforce that old "The One" bullshit? Or even the idea that your happiness should be based on having found The One in the first place. Not that you shouldn't be happy in your relationships - let's hope you are - but just that you can't rely on someone else to make you happy. That has to come from you.

You can tell that Cosmo really thinks it's doing something great here, empowering women... but sorry, no, they're not. They're just taking all their old, stereotypical bad advice and repackaging it as empowering women. But they still just don't get it.

(For some reason I can't find this article on the Cosmo website, but Flyshow.com has reposted the list if anyone wants to read the whole thing without our obnoxious commentary. Although we can't imagine why you'd want to do that, heh).

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raz said...

I love to tear Cosmo apart... thats why I subscribe. Seriously.

I don't think they meant winking as in using emooticons, though. Winking on online dating sites is kind of like poking on Facebook. You send someone a wink to let them know you're interested. I don't think people do it to be lazy, though, I'm pretty sure winking is free but you have to be a member to send a message.

Anonymous said...

Regardless, my opinion is the same - it's a stupid thing to include on a list like that. No one really feels compelled to apologize for not online winking.

Sloth Womyn said...

love your obnoxious comments.

I'm still laughing about the "stop slut shaming" one.

Anonymous said...

Only issue I have is with #5. Astrology is bull. Anyone who ends a relationship because their SO was born in the wrong month is a moron.

Scandalous Housewife said...

I think the only redeeming quality in the article is the use of the word 'taint'.