As a teenager, I was desperately fascinated with the Cosmopolitan magazine. I would hide my copies in my dresser, away from my mother. She didn’t approve of her 15-year-old daughter reading it for the same reason I was so fascinated by it — the sex columns.
As a variety of online listicles don’t hesitate to point out, Cosmo’s sex columns are, admittedly, cringeworthy. On Cosmopolitan’s website, between “17 Cauliflower Dishes You’re Going to Love” and “Please Watch This Video of Taylor Swift Eating a Banana,” is “Behold: Cosmo’s 65 Best Sex Tips Ever.” I took the liberty of reviewing this wide spectrum of Cosmo’s suggestions.
Some of its tips are legitimately good advice. Tip four, “Use lube,” is great advice, as tip 24, which is to “Lube up!” It’s on there twice, so you know it’s the most important one to remember.
There are also tips about how to communicate with your partner, which will make sex better for everyone involved.
Other tips are questionable, but not necessarily bad. Tip 11, “Zone in on the upper left-hand quadrant of your clitoris” is a little specific, but it won’t make you wince in second-hand embarrassment.
Tip 18 is to “Get him to skip the in-and-out thrusts and, uh, stir with his penis instead.” I slept with a guy who did this and I can’t say I personally recommend it, but if it gets you off, go for it.
Still, some of the magazine’s sex tips are simply bad advice. In another round up of its top sex tips, Cosmo recommends having “a romantic dinner without utensils so you can feed each other.” The author especially recommended readers serve “stuff that’s not supposed to be eaten with your hands, like salads or pasta.” Eating a salad with no utensils is not sexy. Chocolate covered strawberries? Sure. Spaghetti bolognese? Pass, thanks.
There’s also the infamous doughnut trick: “gently stick his penis through the [doughnut] hole, then nibble around it, stopping to suck on him once and awhile.” Mmmm icing, pubes, and semen, what more could you ask for? Probably a yeast infection, too!
Despite some of the questionable sex advice, Cosmopolitan’s sex guides are a force for good, not evil. There are places they could improve — the advice is very heteronormative, though they do throw in the occasional lesbian sex tip. But when you’re a young woman, there aren’t many good places to learn about or discuss sex. The internet at-large is definitely to be avoided at all costs, so Cosmo really is the best alternative.
The magazine, though it has its faults, is like the slightly older sister I never had. Some of her advice is good, some of it bad, but talking about it gives you the confidence to at least discuss your sexuality. The more comfortable young women feel about their own sexuality, the better sex they’ll have.
Sure, Cosmopolitan is cringe, but when you’re figuring out your sexuality, the entire experience is cringe. Might as well embrace it.