Helen Gurley Brown catered to a certain kind of woman -- one who probably doesn't exist
It is strange to think that the person directly responsible for the hundreds of pieces of vaguely alarming sex advice that I have read over the years is gone.
But this week saw the passing of Cosmopolitan's Helen Gurley Brown.
It is hard to come up with a fitting tribute.
Some ink has been spilled already on the subject of what she did for the overall cause of women. Did she help or hurt? Was she a feminist or a shyster? What was her legacy, liberation or lockjaw? All I know is that I have to keep buying her magazine or I'll never know What He Really Wants You To Do With That Pineapple.
The next time you are incorporating ice into your intimate life or following any other of Cosmo's manifold strange suggestions, you should pause a moment in respect to Helen Gurley Brown. But I am pretty sure that is the opposite of what she would want. Do not pause, she would say. Keep doing what you are doing. You go, girl!
Cosmo is a You Go, Girl, magazine. It aims at the Fun, Fearless Female, whatever this strange beast is. She has it all, whatever it is.
Admittedly, "You go, girl" is an exclamation generally reserved for when you have done something life-wreckingly idiotic and have just told a group of your friends about it. "You go, girl!" everyone says, hefting their mimosas.
That's why we love Cosmo.
There is frankly nothing on earth I would rather read in an airport. I am not proud of this.
In the echelons of Pursuits In Which I Take Pride it ranks somewhere above stealing other people's laundry detergent and somewhere below occasionally pretending I need to visit the restroom in the middle of long dinners and then sitting in a stall checking my emails.
It's a guilty pleasure. But it's a national guilty pleasure. It had the highest number of single-copy sales of any magazine in the country during the first half of this year. "Well," huffs the Economist, "I'd be the most-purchased magazine too if I put SEX SEX SEXY SEX on every cover."
But that's not the point. It does that, true. But what Cosmo sells is more than sex. It's know-how. "I actually understand how this works," Cosmo says.
You can fake an understanding of the economy at parties. "Oh, yes," you can say. …