Kathryn Lopez: The revolution should not be Cosmogenized
“The Puritan ice may be melting in most Americans’ veins, but not in Mother’s.”
A nude model fretted in Cosmopolitan over her worried mother’s nagging more than three decades ago.
The young woman went on to explain: “How did the modeling affect my love life? It didn’t. During that period I went with (numerous men). They weren’t put off by my profession.”
All positively normal, you see. Getting what you want when you want it, unencumbered by pesky things like biology.
“They gobbled her up,” National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. observed in a 1970 article on the Cosmo phenomenon, “just like they’ll gobble you up, if you do what Helen Gurley Brown tells you.”
And so the great cultural gobbling continues. Not quite the cause for celebration or thanksgiving.
“Who needs a church?” he wrote. “Not the Cosmopolitan Girl. She needs Helen Gurley Brown. Who will tell her everything.”
The Cosmo church is one that was always a bit too satisfy-your-man for feminists, and yet the spirit of faux empowerment has been at the core of the sexual bible.
“Mrs. Brown is quite aware,” Buckley wrote, “that some people believe there are things people should do and things people shouldn’t do. She just wants to help you if it happens that you want to do the things you shouldn’t do. Mrs. Brown is always helping people out.”
Fast-forward to the September 2012 issue, in which we discover there’s a virgin working at Cosmo. (You can almost hear a “Bingo!” as an editor makes the discovery of such a novelty in her midst.) The 23-year-old subject explains: “I’m not religious, so I’m not saving myself, and I’ve come close to having sex. But when it got down to it, I was never with anyone who I really felt like doing it with.”
Could it be that somehow, amidst the bombardment, she’s retained a sense of self-respect and intuits, if not a sacred quality, a purpose to sex beyond immediate gratification?
And yet, she defensively explains that she’s at least “fairly normal,” despite her virgin status. And, as if not to worry readers, she makes clear that she is prepared: “I take birth control,” she writes, “own a vibrator, and enjoy flirting as much as any sexually active female. I always figured I’d lose my V card when the time was right, and I’ve never pressured myself about it.”
There’s something of the legacy of Helen Gurley Brown, the founder of Cosmo, who died at the age of 90 on Aug. 13, in the magazine’s virgin; Brown was about maintaining an upper hand in relations with men. And yet despite her sexual pioneering, she herself was married to the same man for 51 years.
Cosmo’s virgin is also an embodiment, however, of the widespread realization of sexual revolutionary values. She may not be having sex, but she’s pilled up and pleasured, as if that’s the universal standard for single women.
Here is where the Obama administration has stepped in to make sure no woman has reason to worry about responsibility and consequences, as it mandates employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception, even if employers have moral objections to these things (read: puritanical hang-ups). The move, billed as basic women’s health care, is an official institutionalization of the Cosmogenization of America. We’re all Cosmo girls now.
The federal government may not have established this church, but it is an acolyte. Even the virgin has the faith. There’s a whole new “adult” view of religious liberty here. It may still be your mother’s Cosmo, but America has experienced the change.