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November 8, 2011

Cosmo's Editor Kate White Doesn't Understand Consent

Last month we wrote about a really problematic piece of advice printed in Cosmopolitan magazine (written by Cosmo's resident douchebag "guy guru" Ky Henderson). In the "Ask Him Anything" column, Henderson proved that he has no clue about what is or isn't consensual sex by giving some really terrible, harmful advice to a woman who complained that her boyfriend would initiate sex while she was asleep even if she had already said no. Henderson's response not only dismissed his behavior as evidence of something "good" ("he is a dude" and "he thinks your hot") but he actually went as far as to insist that she make sure not to act "as though he's doing something wrong". He also suggested that she initiate more spontaneous sex to keep him happy.

As we explained in our original blog, there is so much wrong with this advice - it is not only offensive, but dangerous - because it never properly addresses the issue of consent. Her boyfriend's behavior is wrong and inappropriate because 1) he is trying to initiate sexual activity with her when she is not in a position to consent because she is asleep and 2) she has already said no to any sexual activity in that situation and he is persisting anyway. This isn't happening because "he's a dude" but because 1) he's not respecting his girlfriend's boundaries and not listening when she says no and 2) he apparently doesn't understand how consent works anymore than Henderson does.

We tweeted many many times to Cosmo (and to Ky Henderson directly) about how dangerous this advice is and requested an apology and a correction. We received no response. Then we tweeted to Cosmo's editor Kate White directly, asking her to "correct & apologize for this harmful advice":

That was on October 19. Finally today (November 8 - how prompt) Kate White responded with possibly the least useful apology that we could have even imagined. She wrote "I’m sorry if the line was offensive. The author was being facetious."

What? What is she even talking about? Which line does she think we were offended by? (How about all of them!) And since when is "being facetious" an excuse for condoning non-consensual sexual activity. It isn't. There's nothing funny or "facetious" about it.

Apparently Cosmo's own editor doesn't understand consent either. (Or apologies for that matter. The "sorry you're offended" apologies are the most meaningless.) So maybe we need to teach her a lesson about it...

Contact Cosmo and tell them that non-consensual sex isn't funny, isn't okay and isn't good advice. Demand an apology (a real one - and a public one at that) and a correction.

To submit a comment to Cosmo:

To contact Cosmo on Twitter: 


LS said...

I went with this:

.@Katemwhite Cosmo should not encourage women to treat sex without consent as okay. You need to apologize for your rape apologist "guy guru"

Rosie said...

I left them a comment as well:
Your "ask him anything" article is disgusting. Why on earth would you publish something that advocated RAPE? You do realize that when a woman says NO it is not OK to continue. That is RAPE. Hence your magazine is not condoning, actually advocating the RAPE of woman. You should be ashamed. I will continue to make sure people know about your lack of responsibility to the females of this world.

Anonymous said...

Cosmo responded to me:

We’re sorry to hear that you were unhappy with Ky Henderson’s advice in the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. Please know that we have read your comment and will take it into consideration. We hope you will continue to read and enjoy the magazine.

-The Editors

"We're sorry to hear that you were unhappy" is about as weak an apology as Kate White's tweet. I was a little more than "unhappy". I am appalled that a magazine for women would print something that basically amounts to condoning rape.

Tiffany said...

We’re sorry to hear that you were unhappy with “Ask Him Anything” in the latest issue of Cosmopolitan. Please know that we have read your comment and will take it into consideration. We hope you will continue to read and enjoy the magazine.

-The Editors

Almost a word for word replay as Anon's.

Yandie, Goddess of Pickles. said...

I didn't comment because I didn't want to like their page but I tweeted them this:

Just read about @CosmoOnline rape-apologist article & @katemwhite 's awesome non-apology. WTG. Nice form letter.

Anonymous said...

I tweeted this: #Cosmo doesn't just perpetuate stupid stereotypes about women. It encourages men to rapeƩ

Miriam said...

Wow. This is ridiculous. I tweeted at them too, saying that there's nothing "facetious" about non-consensual sex.

RedHead said...

I commented along the lines of 'nice to know that, along with devoting their content to how to please your man by wearing scratchy tat from La Senza and never saying no to oral sex, Cosmo now thinks that female empowerment is a largely female editorial team 'harnessing the power' by laughing at mens' rape jokes.'

Elfy said...

I received the same "We’re sorry to hear that you were unhappy" canned response as everyone else. I'm debating whether or not to respond.