Lesbian Sex with Cosmo

August 1, 2014 • Love & Sex

Glamour and Company take note: the new Cosmo feature on lesbian sex positions is moving toward a more inclusive world of women’s magazines. And it’s great.

The online feature, 28 Mind-Blowing Lesbian Sex Positions, is an important breakthrough for a magazine which has only ever previously published pieces on straight sex. When 82% of lesbian women report reading mainstream magazines, it’s essential that the features on the pages represent them – and Cosmo’s piece is a small but significant step in the right direction.

Same-sex relationships were approached at first by mainstream magazines as trivial and playful: the recent evolution of the term ‘girl crush’, as Kate Farhall comments, serves to ‘strip lesbianism and bisexuality of their sexual or emotional desire’ and that ‘it’s as if all heterosexual women can participate in a “girl crush” without the stigma of genuine lesbian desire.’

It seems long overdue, then, that magazines started to take same-sex desire seriously – and, as the largest women’s magazine worldwide, Cosmo’s piece is an important progression. It’s only recently that women’s magazines have started to include same-sex couples in their features – just last month, Glamour ran a piece on making marriages last, featuring opinions from a variety of couples, including the first female couple to have a civil partnership in the UK.

The piece has been receiving a lot of positive attention since its publication: ‘The tips follow several notable changes in Cosmo’s editorial tone, which has expanded to focus more on queer content. Pieces emphasizing transgender rights and “14 Things You Should Never Say to a Gay Man” have become increasingly common at the magazine,’ Jenny Kutner writes – and June Thomas of Slate commented that the piece ‘blew her mind’.

Of course, there’s still a long way to go. Women’s magazines have been rightly criticised for their lack of diversity for years, from everything to whitewashing the models they shoot to constantly shaming the bodies of celebrities. The status quo is changing gradually: last year at the Spring/Summer 2014 shows, the number of black models rose by 2% – and women’s magazines are slowly approaching same-sex relationships in the same manner as straight relationships. The issue is of course by no means solved: one feature does not guarantee more, nor does it mean Cosmo can briefly appease and then ignore a percentage of the women it writes for. We can only hope for more regular features on all aspects of same-sex relationships: sex; break-ups; living together; marriage and relationship issues – all their regular content for straight couples.

Cosmo’s feature should act as a wake-up call to other women’s magazines: they must pay serious attention to their readership’s demands – and this is the perfect opportunity to create a positive and all-inclusive world of women’s magazines which takes all sexualities seriously. It’s time to elevate the representation of all ethnicities and sexualities in mainstream media – and hopefully Cosmo will set a long overdue precedent.

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