I was wrong about Cosmo’s “How to Outsmart a Bitch” article. Shockingly, completely wrong.
I was really interested in proving my point, so I behaved like a penniless teenager and skulked around in the magazine aisle at CVS, furtively flipping to the correct page and speed reading the one page article.
And what I found was pleasantly surprising.
The inside title of the article was not, “How to Outsmart a Bitch” it was “5 Words That Shut a Bitch/Bully Down.” And the article was offering advice on how to address a bully, or bullying behavior. Much less titillating than the cover suggested.
The article specifically talked about how Jennifer Aniston confronted Perez Hilton one night. Apparently she’s been the recipient of some scathing remarks from him. As the article goes, one evening she found herself standing with him, put a smile on her face and asked him, “Why are you so mean?” (The 5 words that will shut a bully down.) Which gave him pause, and now he’s changed his ways. Yay, Jen!
Okay, so that’s good. Talking about how to talk to bullies, or talking about how to stand up for yourself is a really valuable thing. So, good work Cosmo.
Could have done without the cover headline, and the accompanying graphic of someone trying to cover a female model’s mouth with duct tape, and the repeated use of ‘bitch’. But I guess us feminists will never be happy, so…
(Totally suspiciously standing there trying to take a picture of the article so I could re-read it when I got home. Not my best work.)
Really Cosmo? How to outsmart a bitch?
Cosmopolitan magazine isn’t a bastion of feminism, I know this. But I have so many problems with the word ‘bitch’ and to see it on the cover of a magazine that I read faithfully when I was in high school (Alongside Jane – Maude that was a much better magazine than Cosmo. Too bad Cosmo had the staying power while Jane folded.) (I can’t believe I just admitted that I read Cosmo. I was a loud feminist even in my teen years. HOW did I keep spending my money on that crap?!) disappoints me immensely. (The demographic profile on Cosmo’s website doesn’t account for their under 18 readers. Is that not a demographic advertisers are interested in reaching? I know they’re reading.) I haven’t read the article (it doesn’t seem to be available online, and I’m sure not going to BUY the issue – though maybe I should as a scientific endeavor. I can see what kind of crap passes for pop culture, AND check my blood pressure. Win!), so maybe the article is full of smart, helpful ideas for making friends, and appreciating that women are bonded through the oppression of kyriarchy. No? You don’t think so?
I assume the article is calling out certain behaviors that Cosmo editors decided were worthy of sexist name calling. (Yeah, I used ‘calling’ twice in the same sentence. My thesaurus brain is broken.) Which handily serves to create an us vs. them mentality. And at the same time reminds women who might see themselves embodying any of the mentioned characteristics, that they might want to tone it down. Lest they themselves become ‘bitches.’ No one wants to be a ‘bitch.’ Amirite? It’s insidious social control at its finest.
Dammit. Now I have to go buy the stupid magazine so I can find out if I’m right.
(h/t to @ClinicEscort for showing a pic of the cover from a newsstand in my Twitter stream a few weeks ago.)