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December 27, 2012

Cosmo Quickies: December 2012

We already wrote about two horrible articles in the December 2012 issue of Cosmo... but we thought we'd give you all one more quick run-down of everything else that was wrong in this issue (before we start dissecting the January 2013).

That's Taylor Swift on the cover. (Not sure why there's a huge "Sexy" over her torso. It's hard to keep track of which issues of Cosmo are supposed to be the "sexy" issues... because they're all basically the same issue.)

A couple of things irked us straight away from the cover alone. The Taylor Swift story is headlined as "Crazy for a Kennedy!" which showcases Cosmo's longstanding tradition of only writing about women and women's issues as far as they're framed by men. I mean, it's not like there's anything else interesting about Taylor Swift they could have focused on... it's not as though she has a new album (oh wait, she does... Red was released in October 2012) or an upcoming tour (Red tour is scheduled to begin in March 2013). It's not as though she has won any awards recently (she won two Grammys in 2012, bringing her lifetime total to six so far, and was nominated for three more for the 2013 Grammy Awards). It's not as though she had any other kind of accomplishments or acclaim this year (except for, you know, being 2012's highest paid musical performer). Nah, the most interesting thing about Taylor Swift, according to Cosmo, is that she's dating a Kennedy. Wow.

Further down the cover page is the offensive "So You Ate a Cupcake? Fast Moves to Burn it Off!" because women should feel ashamed for indulging in one single cupcake and have to work their asses off to get rid of it immediately.

Also on the cover: "GREAT GUY... What's With the Lame Gift?" What's with the ableist language? Cosmo hasn't gotten the memo yet that you're not supposed to use the word "lame" anymore.

And finally: "Innocent Mistakes that Blow a Job Interview". There's actually nothing wrong with this headline, except that when I read it quickly I saw it as "Blow Job Interview" and that made me laugh.

Finally, onto the inside of the magazine...

The Cosmo Question: "Every month we take on a hot topic" claims this section. So what is this month's question?
What's With the Bodyguards?
Yes, this month's "hot topic" was why celebrity women sometimes date their bodyguards. Way to ask the hard questions Cosmo!
The "Sexy vs. Skanky" section is always full of offensive slut-shaming bullshit. This month was no exception...   

"Taking your twins out" (Sarah Jessica Parker with her daughters) vs. "Taking your twins out" (Mary Carey with her large breasts) ... apparently if you have large breasts you're supposed to leave them at home when you go out? Her dress is a bit revealing but really, when you have breasts that size, everything looks a little revealing. But what's the big deal with showing off what you got? This is just part of Cosmo's long-running history of slut-shaming women for being sexy, especially when those are women who make their career being sexy, such as adult actresses like Mary Carey.

A little bit further down the list they have "Momshells" vs "Cougars". What the fuck is a "momshell"? We get that it's a mom/bombshell, but what qualifes one to be a momshell? (We're thinking this is their PG-rated way of saying "MILF"?) And what is the difference between a momshell and a cougar? Is it just the age? If so, then fuck you Cosmo.

Next is "Sharing a pic with your guy at the checkout line (Behati Prinsloo and Adam Levine)" vs "Sharing spit with your guy at the checkout line (Rose McGowan and boyfriend)". Hm. Here's a close-up of both photos:

It's obviously just a quick smooch between McGowan and her boyfriend Davey Detail, while they waited online for their groceries. Who cares? Why is this skanky? Why is it sexy for a couple to be photographed on line at the grocery, but skanky if they happen to steal a brief moment for a kiss? Are we 100% percent convinced that Levine hadn't kissed his girlfriend at the grocery earlier that day and it just wasn't caught on film? Have you never kissed your significant other in public!? They make it seem as if he had her pressed up against the doors of the frozen food section, geez.

Here are another two pics... one of McGowan and Detail the same day as their shopping trip and one of Levine and Prinsloo another day, kissing at a friend's party. Now who is the skanky couple? (Trick question: Neither. There's nothing skanky about kissing your significant other.)

And finally...

"Three WTF-worthy mouths" is the phrase they used to describe the supposedly skanky Georgina Leahy at the UK Lingerie Awards. (Note: The pic on the right isn't the exact one used by Cosmo, but it's a similar shot from the same event.) This one was also pretty confusing... what exactly is skanky about this photo? Yes, it's true that her lip necklace and belt are kind of ridiculous, but we're pretty sure that's the point. But even so, why is it skanky? And it's pretty fucking rude to call this three WTF-worthy mouths, because basically... the third one is her actual mouth. So Cosmo is just calling her actual mouth "WTF-worthy"? Why? What's the difference between Leahy's bright red lipstick and Gwen Stefani's "sexy" bright red lipstick, except for the fact that she's got the silly necklace and belt to go with it?

We're pretty sure that the only reason why this is under "Skanky" is because she's at the Lingerie Awards and because Leahy is a lingerie model (in addition to singer, actress, etc.). Also, shame on Cosmo for being so lazy that they missed the actual semi-WTF photos of Leahy from the awards... they managed to find one of the few pics where she wasn't posing with her 6 foot albino python. Still wouldn't have been skanky, but at least it would've been a little more unusual than just a silly necklace.

In the man-thro-pol-ogy section, they let us know about a brand new way to make women crazy. "Flirt on Instagram"...
A new way men are showing that they may be interested in you: Liking your Instagram pics. They love that it's a low-risk way to find out how you feel -- if you Like his photos, it gives him confidence to take the next step. Yes, we're horrified that flirting has been reduced to a click, but two can play that game....
Okay, sorry but one - flirting being reduced to a click is nothing new. What do they think Facebook is for anyway? But the truth of the matter is, liking your Instagram pics is probably not a new way for men to show you that they're interested in you. What it actually probably means is that they like your pic. Really. I mean, it's possible that a guy who likes you will also like your pics, but trying to find hidden meaning on Instagram is just setting women up for disappointment and confusion. 

Also in the man-section is "What Axe Marketers Know About Men". Um, okay. Apparently men like to hang out in coed groups (shocking!). They "all want to be the next Tosh.0" and by that, we assume they mean that they all want to be misogynistic assholes who make rape jokes? And finally, men are into "smelling good".
"Now men are open to 'feminine' products," says McCarthy. For example, from June 2010 to July 2012, shower-gel use among men increased by nearly 15 percent.
So shower-gel is a feminine product? Smelling good is a feminine thing?

In "Hubby's Little Helper", they write about viagra (using Paul Rudd's character in This is Forty as an example). The article actual gives good advice - that viagra shouldn't be for recreational use, rather you should only use it if you actually have erectile dysfunction - however, it comes off a little viagra-negative as a whole. That is, this line in particular:
"...if your guy brings it up, reassure him that an Rx-drug-aided erection isn't necessary - that you're more than happy with his natural talents..."
There's just something a little off with that line, because for some men an "Rx-drug-aided erection" is necessary (specifically, those with E.D.) so it comes off as kind of shaming those men who do need to use viagra. Also, if a man is considering taking viagra without a medical need, then it's probably for his own benefit - so he's probably less concerned with whether his natural talents make her happy and is  looking for a better time during sex for him. Otherwise he'd have suggested that she take a viagra too. The article should just focus on the medical risks for taking the pills without a prescription or diagnosis and not make it about performance, because there's nothing shameful about needing a little help from a little blue pill.

In the Love section, Cosmo reinforces their "men love sports, women hate sports" stereotype yet again...
He Abstains From ESPN. Huge one. Huge. "He gives up his weekend for you -- men take their playtime so seriously that giving it up feels, to them, like a major gesture," says Goldsmith. So if he hangs out with you despite the fact that his football team is playing, he may as well have just lit some candles, give you a massage, and read to you from Fifty Shades of Grey in his sexy voice.
Ugh. There's just so many stereotypes they crammed into one small paragraph! First of all, the assumption that most men are obsessed with ESPN and the related assumption that all women aren't. What if he just invited you to watch his favorite football team with him, because it might just be your favorite football team too? Also, there's the idea that skipping a football game is the equivalent of giving you a sexy, candlelit massage - it isn't. Skipping something he likes, is not the same as doing something you like. It's a sacrifice maybe, and it's a thoughtful gesture, sure. But it's not the same thing. There are plenty of men who would actually give you a romantic night such as that and if that's something that's important to you (it might not be, but if it is), then you shouldn't have to settle for "well, he skipped the Giants game for me" as true romance. And then finally... Fifty Shades of Grey. Ew. I'm sorry, but possibly the least sexy and/or romantic thing I could ever think of would be being subjected to the horrible writing in that book.

In the You, You, You section, Cosmo gives readers an opportunity to bitch about their friends. (Maybe they should've called it "Her Her Her"?) "The High-Maintenance BFF" shares stories of the long way some women go to make their best friends happy. The stories are a mix of women with horrible friends (like the woman who has so many affairs that she has to constantly use her best friend as an excuse to her husband) and women who are horrible friends (like the woman who logs onto her friend's dating profile and contacts potential dates for her without her permission). Overall, it just comes off as petty bitching and that's not exactly what we think of when we think of the "fun fearless females" that Cosmo loves to pretend they care about.

In "8 Surprising Mistakes That Could Cost You Your Dream Job", Cosmo yet again drops the offensive, ableist L-word: 
#1. Your Twitter Feed is Lame
"I always look at potential employees' Twitter feeds, says Alison Brod, president of Alison Brod PR. "I know it's informal but a stream littered with u's and luv's makes you look 12 years old - definitely not hiring material." 
(Guess Brod doesn't realize that Twitter's 140 character limit sometimes makes it necessary to shorten words.)

Under the Health & Fitness GYNO section, there's a quickie tip about you period:
Keep your flow on the down low. Period problem number 92: What to do with your used tampon applicator at this place? Flushing could clog the toilet, so you bury it in the garbage can...and  hope it doesn't come rolling out when he empties the trash. The solution: Tampax Radiant tampons come with resealable wrappers, so you can toss without fear or even take it with you.
Are they serious? It's almost 2013. Do most adult men not realize that women menstruate by now? Are tampon applicators really so embarrassing and offensive that we have to add it to the long of things we're supposed to be ashamed of? We're really supposed to take our tampon applicators home with us in order to avoid letting the man we're presumably dating know that we sometimes use tampons? I mean, god, what if you use pads instead of tampons, are you supposed to be afraid to throw the used ones in his garbage pail too? Or are you just a dirty impure disgusting woman and should just spend the week of your period in a hut away from all the villagers?

In the Lust section (wait, there's a Lust section? ahahahahahha okay, sorry, moving on)... there's an article abut "Late-Night Sex".
Some things are better after midnight -- like karaoke, disco fries, and rip-your-clothes-off sex.
Oh Cosmo. Some of the advice actually isn't terrible (although  not sure what any of them have to do with after midnight... they're almost all things you could do at any time). But a few of their tips on how to "bring the after-party back to your place" are just so silly.
Squeeze your Kegel muscles while you're talking to a lame party guest or standing forever at the bar waiting for a drink. 
They used the word "lame" again
Pull the car into the garage. Then get on the hood and pull him on top of you.
And then tomorrow take the car to the garage to fix the dents and scratches in the hood!
Keep the party mood going by quickly turning on a sexed-up song, like Rihanna's "S&M", and putting it on repeat to ensure it doesn't finish before you do.
Ugh, so not only do I have to listen to Rihanna, but I have to listen to Rihanna on repeat? How many times can you really listen to S&M in a row? If the sex takes longer than 10 minutes (which let's hope it does, at least), that's already too many times. At least make a sex playlist or something, don't listen to the same song again and again.
Don't turn the lights on. Stumble through the dark to the living-room floor, and use the inability to see each other as an excuse to say the kind of things you normally wouldn't. 
Okay, couple of problems with this one... first of all, have sex with the lights on or off, I don't care, but trying to stumble your way into the house in the dark has the potential to go from sexy to ouchie, very quickly. I also object to the idea that not being able to see each other gives you an excuse to say things you normally wouldn't. If you're having sex with this person, shouldn't you be comfortable, you know, talking to them first? What things would you be too ashamed to say that are suddenly okay to say in the dark? I just don't get it.

After the late-night sex article, is an article called "Party of One". 
So you're on your own this week -- that doesn't mean you can't have a good time. 
If this wasn't in the Lust section, knowing Cosmo, I'd think it was a guide for spending the weekend without your significant other and I'd expect tips like "get a manicure!" or "watch soap operas". But nope, you guessed it, it's about masturbation. Of course, they never use that word. Instead it's filled with different euphemisms (like "a little solo time does the body good") and tips from readers. We're actually impressed that Cosmo is acknowledging that masturbation not only exists for women, but is a normal, natural and even positive thing to do. However, we wish they'd have actually said that - instead of just jumping into the readers' stories right away.

Later on, there's a quiz to take to see if you're you should have a threesome or not.
Menage a Trois? We're not here to judge. If your guy wants to try a threesome and you're curious yourself, have at it. But are you sure you're as cool with it as you think you are?

Check all that apply:

[ ] I've never creeped into my boyfriend's e-mail or text messages.
[ ] I thought the Marnie-Jessa smooch in Girls was kind of hot.
[ ] I'm pretty adventurous in bed.
[ ] I'm totally confident about how I look naked.
[ ] My boyfriend doesn't check out other girls...at least not when he's with me.
[ ] My motto is "I'll try anything once."
[ ] I am open with my boyfriend about my sexual fantasies and talk about them in detail.
[ ] I've never stalked my guy's ex on Facebook.
[ ] I'm down to watch girl-on-girl porn sometimes. 
If you don't agree with at least seven of these statements, we have a feeling you'll regret adding another girl to the mix. No matter how comfortable you are with sex or hooking up with a girl, having a threesome with your boyfriend and someone else can bring up all kinds of issues afterward -- especially jealousy. Unless you're totally confident in yourself, one hundred percent secure in your relationship, sexually curious and a little bit kinky, and somewhat attracted to chicks (or at least not repulsed by the thought of being naked with one), you might think twice before giving the green light to a three-way.
Hm. They're not here to judge? Isn't that pretty much Cosmo's job? To judge women? Why do they even have the sexy vs. skanky section if they're not here to judge? Even the fact that they feel the need to say "We're not here to judge" has a tinge of implied judgment in there. And the fact that they've basically given a list of criteria that they have deemed necessary for you to meet before you have a threesome, they're explicitly there to judge.

Then there's the fact that the entire thing is framed as being about the guy. Of course they ignore the fact that some women are not interested in having sex with any guys (and therefore a threesome could be three women) but that's sort of Cosmo-territory to ignore lesbians, so okay. But it's still annoying that the author assumes that it would be the guy's idea and the woman would agree to go along with it... if only she was actually as cool with it as she thought she was. (Because us silly women just have no idea how we actually feel about stuff! We need magazines to tell us how we feel!) It's quite possible that the threesome idea is the woman's idea, not the guy's and she's looking for her significant other to give her the greenlight, not the other way around. Her fantasy might include her with two men (not her and her boyfriend with another woman) which is completely ignored as a possibility and makes some of the questions (like the Marnie-Jessa smooch) kind of moot. Of course, considering that this is the same issue that ran the totally offensive "Worst Date Ever: He Was Bisexual... With a Girlfriend!", Cosmo probably can't fathom the idea that a guy might be willing to participate in a devil's threesome, let alone suggest one.

Also, why do you necessarily need to be having your threesome with a boyfriend? That is, a threesome can exist outside of a committed relationship. Or you might be the third person joining another couple. There are a lot of ways that threesomes can go... so Cosmo's take on it is very limiting. As is their criteria for deciding whether or not you will regret having done it. The truth is, there's always the possibility you will regret your decision, because that's the way human beings are... we make decisions and then we either are happy with our decision or regret them in some way. You could meet all of their arbitrary criteria and still feel uncomfortable and unsatisfied after a threesome... or you could meet none of them and still walk away with no regrets and no qualms.

The fact that they say you have to be "totally confident in yourself" and "one hundred percent secure in your relationship" is also kind of funny. Not that it's impossible to be both of those things (although of course, how many of us can truly say that we are totally one hundred percent?) but getting women to feel insecure abut their bodies and their boyfriends is pretty much Cosmo's bread-and-butter.

Another piece in the Lust section  asks the question "Got sex on the brain?" According to experts, the way you react to and interpret these three images below tells us whether you've got sex on the subconscious...

The first image is of a piece of chocolate cake.
If you said: moist, naughty, wicked, sinful, intense, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth: Sex brain!
If you said: fattening, dark, dessert, rich, heavy, delicious, good: Normal.
Just the fact that it describes someone without "sex brain" as "normal" is annoying. Isn't it normal to have sex on the brain? Don't most people have sex on their minds at some point? Also, we fail to see how "gooey" is related to sex. I don't think of sex as "gooey" or "gooeyness" as sexy. And the word "moist" just makes me feel icky no matter what we're talking about. The first word that I thought of was "cake" and the second was "chocolate" so clearly I don't have sex brain, I have chocolate cake brain.

For the second image, apparently if you see a butt, you have a "dirty mind". If you see "feet" you aren't "sex-obsessed". I saw it as knees, so I have no idea what that says about me. The final image is a Rorschach ink blot and if you think it's a vagina, then you think about sex a lot (emphasis theirs). I'm sorry, but I think I'm pretty sex obsessed and I don't see a vagina in that image at all. I also don't see a Christmas tree or a four-legged animal (some of their suggestions for the non-sex-obsessed).

In "Your Pop Culture Portfolio" Cosmo treats pop-culture trends (like TV shows and actors) like stocks and tells us what to buy, hold or sell. It's all pretty stupid, but we're supposed to use these tips to make our party chatter and Twitter feed more interesting in 2013.

Apparently "Gwen and Mindy" (of The Mindy Project) are trendy, "Jess and Cece" (of New Girl) are just okay, and "Snooki and JWoww" (of Jersey Shore) are on the way out. The reason they give for the decline of the guidettes is not that Jersey Shore's final episode aired this season but rather: "An engagement, a little meatball... the duo has official jumped the shark." Um, what? So they're moving on with their lives and that makes them less likeable? Even though JS is done, a new season of their spin-off is set to premiere in January 2013.

Other "tips" include:
  • Buy Kristen Stewart ("Thanks to the whole cheating thing, K-Stew is undervalued, but she's going to have to have a big month with Breaking Dawn Part 2 and On the Road"), hold Mila Kunis, and sell Avril Lavigne because her engagement ring is "ridiculously tacky".
  • Buy Andrew Lincoln, hold Chris Hemsworth (at least until Thor 2 comes out) and sell Robert Pattinson. So we should buy Kristen Stewart but sell Robert Pattinson? Hm. And their reason? "Rob, we feel for you, but it's time to man up." Um.... what the fuck?
  • Buy Dior 24-Karat Gold Jewelry Tattoos (huh?), hold gold headbands, and sell gold nail polish.
  • Buy "Guy Crush" Joseph Gordon-Levitt, hold Shia LaBeouf (um, we'll sell him, thanks, ew) and sell Taylor Kitsch. 
  • Buy Socialcam ("like Instagram for videos"!), hold Instagram, and sell Foursquare. Considering Instagram's recent screw up (trying to change their TOS to give them the right to sell users' photos) it's kind of funny that Cosmo doesn't think we should "sell" them just yet. 
Finally, in the horoscope section they tell Sagittarius that her best love matches are Pisces and Aries. They give celebrity examples (complete with birthdates) and this just proves once and for all that Cosmo is not a magazine for women over 30 because their examples are Alex Pettyfer (4/10/1990) and Justin Bieber (3/1/1994).

Now I feel old.

We'll be back in January to dissect and mock the January 2013 issue of Cosmo! Happy New Year everyone!

December 8, 2012

Is Cosmo's 'Worst Date Ever' the worst article ever?

Okay, we know that Cosmopolitan magazine is usually pretty fucked up in a lot of ways -- but sometimes we come across something that's just so bad that we almost can't even believe they thought it was a good idea. In the December 2012 issue, it was "Worst Date Ever: He Was Bisexual... With a Girlfriend!"

There are so many things wrong with this allegedly "true" story, that we can barely wrap our heads around it.

It starts off innocently enough:
The backstory: I hit it off with a sexy, scruffy guy at a friend's party, and we ended up making out before saying good-bye at the end of the night. The next day, he added me on Facebook and asked me if I wanted to see a movie with him. I was super excited--he seemed to be just my type, so I said yes and breezily added, "I'll see whatever!"
But then got a little weird:
Unfortunately, he got us tickets to Blue Valentine. If you haven't seen it, it documents the dissolution of a raging alcoholic's marriage. (In the beginning, the couple finds their pet dog dead on the side of the road; this is probably the least depressing part of the movie.) Every time I went to rest my head on my date's shoulder, a harrowing scene--an abortion appointment, a drag-out lovers' fight--would make me cringe or shudder.
Okay, maybe it's not the most "romantic" movie, but Blue Valentine (starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling) was critically acclaimed. She said she'd see "whatever" so bashing his choice of film just comes off as bitchy. She could have easily said, "I'd rather not see that" and suggested an unwatchable, cheesy romantic comedy instead. (Also, not exactly sure what's so "harrowing" about an abortion appointment, it's not like they actually show an abortion taking place.)

And then here's where the shit hit the fan. I hope you're ready for a long rant, because I have a lot of feelings! There's just so much wrong with this one little paragraph...
When it was finally over, we headed to a wine bar, where, over a glass of merlot, my date matter-of-factly informed me that he also hooks up with men. I consider myself pretty open-minded, so that bit of info itself didn't bother me--it was his timing. At this point in the night, we were supposed to be all flirty and into each other.
Let's start with "matter-of-factly". What exactly is the proper way to tell someone that you hook up with both men and women? Does the fact that he did it "matter-of-factly" somehow make it inappropriate? Being bisexual (or "also hooking up with men" - since he never actually used the "b"-word so we can't know for sure if he actually identifies as such) isn't anything shameful or wrong or offensive. So why exactly must a person break the news in a way that isn't "matter-of-factly"? Was he supposed to sit down this woman he just met and delicately, slowly beat around the bush to tell her about his sexual orientations and preferences? Should he have taken her on Oprah to do a confessional about it? Why does she feel that he owes her (or anyone else) any kind of explanation that isn't "matter-of-fact"?

She claims to be open-minded and claims that the only reason it bothered her was "his timing", but what is the appropriate timing? Isn't the first date the most appropriate time to disclose this kind of information? That way you can weed out any closed minded bigots - if they have a problem with it, you don't waste your time going on a second or third date with them. She felt they were supposed to be "all flirty and into each other" at that point in the night, but how can you time a date? Maybe he wasn't acting like he was all into her, because he wasn't all into her. Or maybe he didn't realize that mentioning that he hooks up with men and "being all flirty and into each other" are apparently mutually exclusive things.
I figured he'd mistakenly thought it'd impress me, so I politely laid it out for him: "I understand that a guy can picture a girl he's dating making out with one of her girlfriends and get turned on by that. But for me personally, picturing a guy I'm doing going at it with his male-bud is not a turn-on." My date looked confused. I ordered us a second round of drinks.
Ugh. She figured he thought it would impress her? What the fuck? So basically, he's being honest about his sexuality in order to a) be a decent human being and b) weed out bigoted homophobes like her... and she thinks he's trying to impress her? Look, we know that in Cosmo-world, any same-sex sexual behavior is done for the benefit of an onlooking member of the opposite sex. Her response to him was just awful. No wonder he looked confused! He doesn't hook up with guys to turn her on; he does it because it turns him on!
Meanwhile, as if on cue, a man who'd been sitting near us at the bar turned toward my date to ask him a question. My date, without hesitation, flirted back. I tried to chime into their conversation, but I had ceased to exist to either of them. I sat there for 10 minutes while they got to know each other.
I'm starting to wonder if this guy even knew he was on a "date" with her or if he thought he was just seeing a movie with a new friend. I know they made out at the party, but it doesn't seem like he was trying to make her his new girlfriend for some reason. Maybe telling her he "also hooks up with guys" might've been his way of telling her that he wasn't looking for a commitment with her. He didn't say he also dates guys, he said "also hooks up with"... so maybe she wasn't his "date" after all? I might be reaching on this one, sure, but something about the whole story just doesn't ring true to me, so I have to wonder if she fictionalized any part of it to make a better story for Cosmo. (That is, if the entire story itself isn't fiction, which knowing Cosmo, it probably is.)

It's also possible that he wrote her off because her attitude and comments made it clear that they obviously weren't compatible, and decided to try to make the most of the evening by chatting with other people at the bar.
Finally, I stood up, grabbed my coat, and told them both I was heading out. My date ran after me and gave me a good-night kiss, but I'm pretty sure he went back to finish his flirtation.
Why wouldn't he go back to finish his flirtation? She left! If he still had any doubts about whether or not she was interested in him (seeing as she basically told him that she wasn't interested in him if he hooks up with guys, which he does) why wouldn't he continue to flirt with someone else? If in fact that is what he was even doing with that guy - based on her other statements, it's likely that this woman isn't very clear on exactly what "flirting" is and may have mistaken friendliness for romantic interest.
Here's the kicker: I got home and texted the friend who'd hosted the party where we'd met. I summarized the night's events and she wrote back, "That's weird--he totally has a girlfriend. They just moved in together."
Okay, so maybe I've been spending too much time at events like CatalystCon, but this is what I think... he's in an open relationship where they're both free to date and hook up with other people. His girlfriend may very well be doing the same thing he was doing. I can't know this for sure, but it doesn't seem like this woman stuck around long enough to find out. I'm very much against infidelity, but I don't have a problem with polyamory. I also don't have a problem with bisexuality (or fluid sexuality either)... what I do have a problem with is the way that this article seems to lump the two separate issues that this woman had with her date into one. The way that it's framed in this article just perpetuates the same stupid stereotype that we always hear about bisexual people being promiscuous and just basically having sex with everyone indiscriminately. This woman had two separate issues with her date, but the article frames it as if they were the same issue, as if him being bisexual and him (possibly) cheating on his girlfriend, were part of the same problem. It's really offensive.

It's as if we, the readers, are supposed to assume that his girlfriend has no idea that he hooks up with guys sometimes, but this is something she likely does know about, because if he tells women about it on the first date, his girlfriend probably found out in a similar way. Which is why I think it's probable that she also knows that he "dates" other women, like the author. It is the author who seemed to be confused about where she stood with this guy. It makes me wonder what their first interaction at the party was like... did he actually mention something offhand about having a girlfriend or being in an open relationship before they "made-out" and she just missed it (perhaps because it was noisy or she was drinking)? Or did he assume she knew based on the fact that they had a mutual friend? Or would he have explained it to her further, if she hadn't shot him down so directly after his initial comment about hooking up with guys? It just feels like the author did a lot of "filling-in-the-blanks" for this guy without actually getting the real story.

In fact, how do we even know that he actually does have a girlfriend? She's going based on what their  mutual friend told her, but how do we know it's true? There's no indication of how close she is with this mutual friend or how close the friend is with him. The girlfriend apparently wasn't at the party and he's apparently not listed as "In a Relationship" on Facebook. Maybe they just broke up. Maybe they were never actually in a relationship to begin with and the friend was mistaken. Maybe she makes the same kind of stupid assumptions the author makes.

And it's also quite telling that the fact that he has a girlfriend was more of an after-thought. The real complaint is that he was bisexual. The ellipsis "...with a girlfriend!" is just a little extra annoying. But she didn't even find that out until after the date, so it doesn't contribute to it being the worst date ever. Him allegedly being bisexual was all it took. 
A few days later, I posted this emo Facebook status update: I would like to date someone who's not dating someone. Guess who Liked it.
That right there proves it to me once and for all... this guy was either never interested in "dating" her in the first place or realized way before she did that they were totally incompatible and "likes" that she's going to hopefully try to date someone with whom she is compatible. Maybe someone as judgmental and bi-phobic as she is! I'm still laughing that this was under the heading "Worst Date Ever!"

I'd love to hear his point of view of the whole chain of events - I bet it was the worst date ever for him as well.

December 6, 2012

The Only Kind of Man Worth Marrying?

In the December 2012 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, there is a really problematic article in the "Love" section called "The Only Kind of Man Worth Marrying". We're pretty sure that its author Jessica Knoll and the Cosmo editorial team are all patting themselves on the back right now about what an empowering, feminist piece of writing they've got here... but we're sorry, it's just not true. There are so many things wrong with this (probably well-meaning) article.

First of all, let's just start with the title. The only kind of man worth marrying - the implication is that all women (or at least all heterosexual women, seeing as Cosmo rarely admits the existence of lesbians) are looking for a man to marry. Because aren't all women just looking for "the one" so they can settle down?

Anyway, the article begins like this:
There's a new breed of guy out there -- a lean, mean, dish-doing, and diaper-changing machine. And continuing to excel in your career even after you have a few mini-yous may be contingent on making him your husband.
Just the fact that they're referring to this type of guy as a "new breed" is kind of annoying. Men have always been capable of doing dishes and changing diapers. If they weren't actually doing so, that's a whole other issue, but they were capable of doing so. Even if men were expected to work outside the home and women to raise the children, still, are we supposed to believe that fathers never changed a diaper or washed a dish ever? The truly good men were always doing the little stuff, even if they weren't in a truly "equal" relationship.
An exciting career, a beautiful home, a second half as sexy as Ryan Reynolds, and eventually some rug rats. This is the modern definition of having it all, and unlike our grandmothers, or even our moms, we've been promised it's doable.
Eventually some rug rats? What about the women who choose to have children before marriage (or outside of marriage altogether)... are they not capable of "having it all"?

And I'm sorry but no one promised me that I could have it all. If anything, society still tells us that we can't. Women who work because they want to (not have to) are judged as putting their careers before their children. Families that hire nannies to help care for their kids are shamed for not being present. Working mothers are still pitted against stay-at-home moms in the battle of "who's a better parent?" And at the end of it all, we're told that we can't succeed. There are too many problems with our society that don't truly let women "have it all". Having a supportive partner helps, of course, but it's not a magical secret solution that Cosmo has finally discovered for all of us.

Then the article goes and takes on a whole other level of crazy when they start quoting Hugo Schwyzer as an expert.

Not familiar with Schwyzer? He teaches at Pasadena City College and speaks nationally on gender and masculinity. In some circles, he's considered to be a passionate male advocate of women's rights. But in other circles, he's considered to be sexual predator and attempted murderer. And just to be clear, I say "considered" but not "alleged" -- he has admitted to sleeping with his students and trying to kill his ex-girlfriend, both during a period of his life where he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. (Not to mention the time he described helping to organize SlutWalk L.A. as "herding sluts", or his desire to jizz on the face of feminism.) So obviously, Schwyzer is an interesting choice to quote in an article that's about female empowerment and respectful male partners. I'm not saying that he's not capable of being a feminist, despite his checkered past, but I think it's problematic for him to be the public face of male feminism when there are plenty of other more worthy people out there to take that role. It seems very odd for them to seek out a quote from someone like him for an article about men "worth marrying".

The article goes on to talk about this amazingly insane concept of men who you know, don't expect their women to wait on them hand and foot and actually want to be involved with the home and their own children. I know - crazy right? On the surface, this isn't a terrible piece. Yeah, we should all hold out for a guy (or girl) like that - one who respects our choices and our right to have our own lives, one who chooses to be involved with their own children, one who cares about our needs as well as their own. But this isn't some brand new concept.

Frankly, Knoll and Schwyzer's description of how to identify this kind of man is almost as offensive as it is obvious:
First, they can handle disappointments and inconveniences well. If something comes up at work and you have to cancel on him, his response is, "It's not important, I understand." Not "Aw, come on. Can't you just do it later?" The former is a sign he respects that you have a meaningful life outside of him. Second, these guys express interest in your career. "He should be curious even when it doesn't connect to him in any way," says Schwyzer. When a man truly values all your extra stuff, he won't assume you'll be the one to attend every parent-teacher meeting. Yeah, you'll put out family-related fires half the time, but so will he.
How about instead of using this criteria to determine whether or not he'll be a 50-50 parent, use this criteria to determine whether or not he's a douchebag. If a guy you're dating doesn't behave in this way, you shouldn't be dating him and you definitely shouldn't be marrying him or having kids with him. It's common sense, no? It's also annoying that in the past Cosmo has run several snide little comments about men who aren't "manly" enough... like getting facials, carrying a "man purse", or gasp!shopping! So they want men to be sensitive and nurturing and enlightened enough to do dishes or change diapers or play with their own kids, but they don't want them to cross that line and be too "girly"! I mean, carry around your baby, that's fine, but god forbid they carry around a small dog or something.

What really really irked me the most about the article was the accompanying photos of celebrity dads who - gasp - actually spend time with their own children! "Orlando [Bloom] takes over while mom models" ... "With Mariah's Idol gig, Nick [Cannon]'s on double duty" ... "When Posh is away, David [Beckham] and Cruz play" ... "Mark [Wahlberg] picks up where wife-y leaves off." Noticing a theme? These dads are spending time with their kids when their wives are busy, because you know, that's the only reason why a man might spend time with their kids. And it's just because their wives can't be with the kids, so the implication is that otherwise they would be the mom's responsibility.

By the way - we happened to come across photos from the same batch of pics as their shot of Nick Cannon. He wasn't even on "double duty" while Mariah was working at her "Idol gig" - they just cropped her out of the photo during their trip to Aspen, CO.

(And then just for symmetry, they included a pic of  John Hamm with the caption "Don Draper... so not a 50-50 guy". Also not a real guy, seeing as he's a fictional character and not even of this century.)

Look Cosmo, we appreciate that you're trying to be less old fashioned and more feminist, but... it's kind of hard to take you seriously when your version of feminism is simply "don't marry a guy who is an asshole, only have kids with guys who are willing to raise their own kids" common sense. And any female empowerment you managed to squeeze out of this article is then completely contradicted by the rest of the magazine, which is specifically formulated to make the "fun fearless females" reading it feel insecure and neurotic.