The Vagenda

Adventures in the Cosmos

So, it’s been an absolute age since we’ve done a Cosmo takedown, mainly because we’re two weeks off our book deadline and all normal behaviour has ceased. I guess I was sort of hoping that I’d open Cosmo again after this short interlude and find it to be a pinnacle of right-on, funny, intelligent feminist content, but alas it was not to be. The cover, which shows ‘super-smart’ Zooey Deschanel in a pink dress next to the words ’248 SHOES’ and ‘ARE YOU HAVING ENOUGH SEX?’ (Answer: no) does not bode well. Inside, meanwhile, is a smorgasbord of shit with a dischargy side of fondue, and I will proceed to munch my way through the whole beast so that you don’t have to. 
First up, what you should be wearing. In their innovative Spring florals section, Cosmo recommends a range of clarty, pastel coloured dresses specifically designed to make you look like a holiday cottage duvet cover (sliverfish not included). Once you turn the page, however, you’ll want to crawl under the aforementioned duvet cover and eat your own face off, because this month’s ‘Cosmo Face Off’ (see what I did there?) is…
‘Would you ever have sex just to please you man?’
In other words: would you ever have sex when you didn’t want to? Or, to put it in legalese  would you ever let the whole issue of consent drop just for a teensy teensy while because he’s doing those puppy dog eyes and his boner is starting to really hurt?
We’re only a few pages in and already my blood is pumping, especially when we get to Emily Dubberly’s YES response. ‘Sometimes we’ll agree that I’ll ‘take one for the team’ and he’ll be quick’, says Emily. More erotic words were never spoken.
‘For some, having a partner who wants more or less sex with you can be a deal-breaker; you’re free to make that choice. But if you choose to stay with a partner with a higher libido then compromise is only fair.’
I’m not sure about you gals, but lying in a foetal position while someone I don’t want to have sex with pounds me pretty much against my will doesn’t sound like much of a ‘compromise’ to me. It sounds like the WORST SATURDAY EVER.
Dubberley (it should be DUMBerley)’s advice is only a stone’s throw from that old favourite ‘lie back and think of England’ (‘pick a position where he does most of the work’) We were at a thing the other week when someone in the audience asked whether it was ok to condemn women who, to use our writer excellent Emer’s term, ‘the lapdogs of the patriarchy’. I say: hell yes. If they’re doing something damaging for women, then let’s condemn them in the strongest possible terms. Never should they be excused simply because they have a vagina. EMILY DUBBERLY: I CONDEMN YOU IN THE STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE A VAGINA. 
(NB the ‘NO’ side of the debate is excellently argued by Emma Kenny, who is clearly wasted on Cosmo). 
New portmanteau term alert: Fem-trepreneurs 
(pause for collective vomit)
New Taylor Swift said something trite alert: ‘Life isn’t about learning how to survive the storm, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain’
(pause for collective manic pixie dreamgirl raindancing vomit)
Next up is Men vs Fashion, where three luscious lads make your fashion neurosis even worse by judging four women infinitely more powerful than them entirely on the basis of their wardrobes. Of Anne Hathaway, Steven, 22, from Wolverhampton says: ‘I wouldn’t give her a cuddle in this’, while ‘James, 26 says ‘she looks like a sparkly ghost.’ Well, that’s her TOLD. Never mind the fact that Anne is an Oscar Winning Actress of Enormous Talent, oh no. Jay, 29, from Surrey says that her dress ‘reminds me of webbed feet’ and as such she should never leave the house again, the munter. 
Meanwhile, Ashley Simpson (who I thought looked pretty cool, actually) ‘looks like she’s about to have a kick-about with the lads and I’m not so sure about that.’ Clearly Jay is insecure in his masculinity and needs a dress-wearing female companion for reassurance, poor baby. Fuck off back to Surrey, Jay. 
Clearly Cosmo knows no better than these Neanderthal douchebags as far as fashion is concerned, because on the very next page it touts double denim as something that you should be wearing. (Sub question: what is worse- double denim in the same shade, or double denim in contrasting shades?)
After that I was in such a hurry while flicking towards ‘Never be tagged in the same look twice’ that I almost missed the full page advertisement that Cosmo had taken out to advertise itself (meta). ‘You want the best things out of life – no wonder you’re reading Cosmo’ (the magazine for anyone whose ambitions stop at ‘being sassy’)
Then there is a list of things that apparently represent the best things in life, namely:
- The world’s best friends
- A great career
- 100% confidence
- The cleverest beauty tips
- The body you always wanted
- Read his mind
- The hottest holidays
- Smart, sexy fashion
I don’t know about you, but Cosmo has never really given me any of these things. I’d say that after reading it, my confidence is in the bottom 10th percentile, and I’m no closer to reading his mind than I would be were I partaking in an episode of Sixth Sense with Colin Fry. Perhaps I’m not ambitious enough, but the best thing I could want out of life at the moment is just never having to sign on ever again. I can take or leave the other stuff, tbh, even the friends.  
Laura Jane Macbeth UPDATE: One year on, the author of the Sex & the Singer girl is still yet to find a boyfriend. Stay tuned for more of the same next month. 
Skipping past the cover interview with Zooey Deschanel that reveals nothing about the empty-headed enigma with no opinions persona that she seems to be cultivating, I come to one of the bitchiest and most unpleasant articles that I’ve ever seen in a woman’s magazine. ‘My Friend’s An Embarrassmate’ writes Jo Dunbar, proceeding to passively-aggressively tear into her friend of ten years in national magazine. It’s whiny, mean tone continues throughout, the highlight being ‘it was my birthday party’ (boo fucking hoo). From what I can gather, all Julie* seems to have done wrong is to have revealed ‘too many intimate details about her sex life’ and been occasionally blunt and tactless. In other words, she sounds like a hoot who will never live up to Ms Dunbar’s incredibly high standards, so she should just ditch whiny Jo. We’d happily take her on anytime. 
Next up we have 20 Men Who are Looking For Love, and, I hate to say it, almost all of them seem like total bellends. ‘All the females I come across are indecisive’, whines Alex, 19, a student from Southampton. A little tip from me to you Alex: maybe not calling them ‘females’ would be a start. ‘I decided that 2013 would be the year I made more of an effort with the fairer sex’, says Julian, 26, from London. A little tip from me to you, Julian: drop the granddad appellations now. ‘I want a woman who loves lazy Sundays, autumn walks and Maltesers’, says James, 29 (which basically means he’ll take ANYONE) Ross, 25 suggests the zoo because ‘you can learn about each other without alcohol.’ Because making awkward conversation while pretending to ignore the chimpanzees rimming one another inches from your face with NO BOOZE sounds like an absolute joy of an evening. ‘As a foodie…’ begins Andrew, 25, from Aberdeen, but I never find out what he was going to say because I have swiftly turned the page. 
Now for some evolutionary psychology bullshit. In Kick His Job Out of the Bedroom, Cosmo starts: ‘Thanks to our ancestors’ need for a mate who could protect them against predators, we’re hard wired to find strong-powerful men attractive, even if we don’t want to.’  Way to redefine the gender binary, Cosmo. And hear that ladies? You can never overcome your biological impulses, no matter how hard you try.
The article continues, laying out a dubious hypothesis that the recession has brought out his ‘fighting instincts’ which could be bad for your relationship, because it means he’s suddenly putting his work before his partner (because men have never done that before). Next up in the ‘Original observations about men’ section, we have a man who doesn’t want to get married. Well knock me down with a fucking feather.  
Now for the careers section. First off Cosmo clear up some pretty basic financial myths for those of us with the learning disability known as ‘having a vagina’. Then we have the ‘So you want my job?’ feature, which this month features a Female Virgin Atlantic Pilot. This is clearly a PR puff piece pitched as a response to the internet rage prompted by Virgin Atalantic’s latest sexist turd of an advert, so I’m fucked if I’m going to give it the time of day. 
The Secret of Being Happy, According to Nicky Minaj: Wearing pink, which makes her feel ‘euphoric’. 
More things you should be wearing and doing: flowery shorts, while posing neo-colonially with some Havanan locals, blue, prairie skirts
New portmanteau term altert: Instaglam 
(collective pause for apocalypse)
By the way, here’s a picture of some cute puppies as a way of trying to get you to check your breasts for potentially cancerous lumps (‘Have you checked your puppies lately?’, p.197) Awww you thought we were just showing you some adorable squee didn’t you? But you fell for it, you silly little thing with your silly little girl-brain that needs pictures of kittens in order to read about serious topics!!! Perhaps they should develop a female-specific version of the Economist that replaces all the pictures of George Osborne looking evil with a GIANT FLUFFY CHINCHILLA. 
Seriously, though, check your tits. Knead them good. 
I’m pretty much losing the will to live by the time I get to Sex Busters, but I know you guys love the blue stuff, so I’ll use the last fibre of being that I have in order to inform you that having 100 orgasms a year can increase your life expectancy by 3-8 years. If a guy bites your clit while he’s going down on you, make sure he apologises and then retrain your brain to not freak out next time he’s down there. Oh, and if he ejaculates quickly after three thrusts, introduce a dildo into the mix and try hypnotherapy. So wise! 

9 thoughts on “Adventures in the Cosmos

  1. As always, excellent reading and reviewing. DUMBERLY *shakes fist and drops her into a vat of Hollondaise sauce. Just because*

  2. It seems clear that they’ve put it misleadingly, but there’s something to be said for having sex with someone you’re comfortable with when you’re feeling only “meh, ok sure” rather than full-on “OMGYES”. I love sex but with fatigue problems it can be hard to get to the OMGNOW feeling, so if I said no every time I didn’t have that feeling, I’d have missed out on some pretty awesome fucking.
    Just wanted to put it out there that there’s a difference between “not wanting to” and “not being horny” oftentimes. (Not that I can speak for every person, but I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way.)
    The rest of this issue looks like complete balls, though.

  3. The Bun does make an excellent point. It’s a shame because that question was badly phrased (and ever more badly answered) but certainly in that respect, there is an element of doubt, I think.

    I’m aware of precisely what the question said because I bought Cosmo this month. I know. I feel ashamed. But it was my first time out of the house since having the flu and there was a free Elemis lip balm so my defences were down.

  4. @The Bun: Same here. I also know that if I give him a chance, he’ll have me turned on in next-to-no-time, and so even if I initially didn’t feel like it, we’re both better off giving it a go. It does require patience and understanding, and quite a few cuddles. If there is genuine discomfort involved however, or I really don’t feel attracted to him, it’s a completely different kettle of fish altogether. And yes, I do still call myself a feminist.

  5. Another great post! Although your comment about Zooey Deschanel being an ‘empty-headed enigma with no opinions persona’ seemed harsh as she herself has come out and identified as a feminist. She may seem away with the fairies most of the time and comes across as being extremely feminine but as she said “we can’t be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a f–king feminist and wear a f–king Peter Pan collar. So f–king what?”

  6. Oooh I’m so pleased you did a review of this month’s issue. There were a few moments when I had to question why I was still bothering to read on. A great review ladies :-)