Cosmopolitan Editor Reminds The World That Women Can Be Both Smart And Sexy (Sadly, The World Still Needs Reminding)

I have as many hangups about Cosmopolitan as the next feminist, but I love editor-in-chief Joanna Coles’ mission to make the magazine and its website a more well-rounded read. In an interview with NPR this morning, Coles, who has been in the position just two years, made it clear that she actually gives a damn about heavier topics like across-the-aisle politics and reproductive rights. She also pointedly defended a woman’s right to be a multi-faceted person who cares about both serious issues and lighter things in life (what a novel concept). Emily Ratajkowski of “Gone Girl” (and the “Blurred Lines” video) is on the cover of this month’s issue baring lots of skin, but the magazine also includes a lengthy article advising women on how to ask for a raise. To me, that seemed pretty cool — why shouldn’t a Cosmo reader be able to enjoy her sexuality and still kick ass in her professional life? This exchange followed, which Coles defended like a boss:

NPR: “This woman who is half-naked on your magazine does not look like she’s about to go negotiate for a raise.”

Coles: “Well, I don’t think anyone would suggest that you negotiated for a raise with your shirt undone to your waist, but I think she is being very handsomely paid for ‘Gone Girl’.”

NPR:You don’t see a contradiction there in those two ideas, that you can be the woman who is on the cover and be the young woman who’s trying to negotiate a higher salary for herself?”

Coles: “Well, I think that women’s lives are multi-layered. I have no problem understanding that women are interested in mascara and the Middle East. Men are allowed to talk about sports relentlessly and yet we still take them seriously. I don’t understand why women can’t talk about fashion or sex or love or wanting more money and not be taken as seriously as men.”

Yes! To be fair, Cosmo and other lady mags are known to be hypocritical about women’s personal agency, so the interviewer had valid reason to ask that question. After all, the publication has a tendency to do things like alternate body-shaming with advice about how “empowered” we are, but awesome moments like this one make me think things are slowly moving in a more positive direction. Coles also expressed her desire for more women to be elected to office and weighed in splendidly on modern politics:

“…I don’t like that contraception is called or labeled as a women’s issue. Contraception is a couples’ issue. Men like having sex too and men don’t want to have to have a baby every time they have sex. In fact, if you presented them with that option they’d never want to have sex again! So I think it’s important that we frame this in terms of both men and women, and I think it’s also been seen as a specifically democratic issue, and we have a lot of young republican readers who feel that they want access to contraception. They want to control when they have a baby and for a woman, when she has a child is the single most important economic decision she’ll ever make in her life, and we want her to have a choice over that.”

Joanna, I am so a fan.


[Image via Getty]