Cosmopolitan, long considered one of the fluffier offerings to women on the magazine rack, has been quietly remaking itself into a powerhouse of reproductive rights coverage. Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress reports on a new era at the sex-tip-centric rag, with recent articles on abortion rights, abortion stigma, and contraception access. I’ve noticed it, too: Just last week, I blogged here about a Cosmo story highlighting the desperate measures one woman in Brazil had to take in order to secure a safe abortion. So what’s going on with the magazine that has long advised women to put a doughnut on their man’s penis?
“It all comes down to one core value, which is that we are unequivocally for women’s rights. It’s that simple,” Cosmopolitan.com’s editor, Amy Odell, told ThinkProgress when asked about the apparent editorial shift. “We believe every woman should have access to safe, affordable health care, and when that right is threatened, we’re not afraid to tackle those threats head-on.”
Cosmo is also competing online with other women’s websites—such as this one and Jezebel—that have built substantial audiences on the assumption that women want more in-depth coverage of sexual health and repro rights issues. Getting its share of that audience means taking the same approach.
But mostly, I think Cosmo’s new focus has a lot to do with the fact that the traditional wall between fluffy sex content and hard-hitting sexual health and rights content is crumbling. Cosmo has undeniably been a major factor in signaling to young women that there is nothing wrong not only with having sex but wanting to make the most of it. But as attacks on contraception and abortion access increase, it’s now tone-deaf to talk about 15 ways to make him scream without considering how you can do them all without ending up with an unwanted baby. No ongoing discussion of sexual pleasure can unfold without addressing reproductive rights. Cosmo’s recent coverage simply reflects how real women think about sex.