A recently unearthed ad promoting the 1972 launch of Cosmopolitan Magazine shows it to have been about pretty much the same things it’s about now. Does that mean it was/is progressive for its time, regressive for our time, or both?
The ad shows various Cosmo-reading women impressing men with their knowledge of pop culture, cooking, money-making, vacationing, and sexing, in that order. The magazine claims to be for women who are interested in “men, love, fashion, food, men, travel, films, beauty, and themselves…and men,” and it seems like not much about that mission has changed since then.
You could take this one of two ways. On the one hand, it’s a little obnoxious that the ad focuses so much on women pleasing men. On the other, maybe these women are pleasing the men so that the men will, ahem, please them in return. After all, all the dudes in the ad are all pretty handsome, so I don’t think we’re meant to believe the women are cooking for/sexually servicing them for some nebulous concept of security. (You know, the ol’ chestnut that sex is a thing women have that men want, and are willing to pay for.) The idea that a woman could use sex to get orgasms (and not money/love) was pretty revolutionary in 1972, and unfortunately, remains so today. If anything, I’d say Cosmo has backslid a little bit from where it used to be.