by Mallory Carlson ‘19
Walmart announced in late March that it will stop selling the popular women’s interest magazine Cosmopolitan in its checkout shelves in all of its locations across the country. The move was made in collaboration with a non-profit anti-pornography group called the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which has for many years had targeted the magazine due to its “hyper-sexualized and sexually objectifying” content.
The decision to pull Cosmopolitan from checkout shelves was, as described by the the group’s executive director Dawn Hawkins, “what real change looks like in our #MeToo culture.” The group, founded in 1962 and previously known as Morality in Media, focused on Cosmopolitan for years because of its content and easy availability to minors. “A young teenager who first picks up Cosmo is going to be attracted to the bubble gum pink cover and to stories about Selena Gomez and One Direction,” said Haley Halverson, the center’s vice president for advocacy and outreach, told the New York Times for a recent article. “But within the covers, Cosmo is filled with extremely explicit articles that detail things like sexting, pornography, group sex, public sex and other forms of risky sex that actually a lot of young girls today are being pressured to do before they’re ready.” She also said that Cosmopolitan displays a “faux feminist mystique.”
The decision, and specifically the citing of the #MeToo movement as a cause, was met with backlash from many people online, mainly on Twitter and on other news source website. Michelle Ruiz, a writer for Vogue magazine, described Walmart’s actions as “another step towards its [society’s] slow and sure conversion to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ a popular novel turned television show that is about a dystopian society in what used to be the United States in which women are used exclusively as objects for the benefit of those in control of the society.
“As with all products in our store, we continue to evaluate our assortment and make changes. Walmart will continue to offer Cosmopolitan to customers that wish to purchase the magazine, but it will no longer be located in the checkout aisles. While this was primarily a business decision, the concerns [about the content in the magazine] raised were heard,” said Walmart in a statement to Fox News.