Walmart Removes Cosmopolitan Magazine From Checkout Racks

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

In a major victory for public decency standards, Walmart has agreed to remove Cosmopolitan magazine, with its covers full of half-naked women and risqué articles, from checkout racks.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is reporting on the move by the retail giant who will pull the magazine from it’s highly visible checkout line racks and move it to another part of the store where it is much less visible to children. The unprecedented move, which is in response to the #MeToo movement, involves more than 5,000 stores.

“That’s over 5,000 stores where families and individuals will no longer be automatically exposed to Cosmo’s hypersexualized and degrading article titles that regularly promote pornography, sexting, BDSM, group sex, anal sex, and more, all while marketing toward young teens with Disney star cover models,” the NCOSE said.

Cosmopolitan has been under fire for years due to a highly effective campaign led by Victoria Hearst, a born-again Christian and granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, who founded the company that publishes the magazine.

Several years ago, she explained to the Post: “I’m doing the ‘Cosmo Harms Minors’ campaign because Jesus Christ told me to get Cosmo out of the hands of minors. I love Him, and I’m being obedient to His will.”

Hearst’s years-long campaign has been able to convince other stores such as Rite Aid, Food Lion and Kroger to at least cover up the magazine.

She has even tried to reason with the editors of the magazine. In 2015, she offered to discuss the problems with Cosmopolitan’s editor in chief, Joanna Coles, but Coles refused.

“I have no time for a debate,” said Coles. “I am too busy putting out a magazine and encouraging American women to have more and better orgasms.”

But is this what women really want to read?

Apparently not. As the Post reports, single-copy sales of what was once the company’s most profitable publication sank from 576,550 copies in December of 2014 to just 190,487 in December of 2017. That’s a drop of 67 percent.

“Part of it is due to the general falloff in single-copy sales from young women nationally. Single-copy circulation on young women’s magazines has been dropping at the rate of more than 20 percent a year since 2015,” the Post reports.

Most young women read on-line magazines these days, but many of them have complained to the NCOSE about the content of the magazine.

“ . . . [Y]oung girls and boys alike have often reached out to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation reporting how the magazine’s normalization of sexual objectification and pornography compound peer-pressure to engage in more risky sex, which has negatively impacted them,” the NCOSE reports.

This complaint is also being voiced by teens who participate in our Young Women of Grace program where they frequently report the pressure they feel to achieve impossibly high standards of beauty.

“I feel like no matter what I do, how great my clothes are, how much makeup I wear, I’ll never look as good as the girls in those magazines,” one teen said. “That can make me feel really bad about myself sometimes.”

Convincing magazine editors to dial back the soft-porn in their women’s magazines, especially those that are displayed within sight of children and teens, is a quest worth fighting for.

“Cosmo sends the same messages about female sexuality as Playboy,” said Dawn Dawkins, the executive director of the NCOSE. “It places women’s value primarily on their ability to sexually satisfy a man, and therefore plays into the same culture where men view and treat women as inanimate sex objects.”

She added: “This is what real change looks like in our #MeToo culture, and NCOSE is proud to work with a major corporation like Walmart to combat sexually exploitative influences in our society.”

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