Cosmo Sent Students To Vote In A Party Bus & IDGAF If It’s Shallow

As part of Cosmopolitan’s recent ventures into political coverage under the leadership of kickass new editor-in-chief Joanna Coles, the magazine has been endorsing specific candidates and, more importantly, pushing readers to vote. The campaign has been branded with the (so very Cosmo) catchphrase Voting Is Sexy. Yesterday, the mag sent a party bus full of male models (and free food!) to the campus of North Carolina State University to shuttle students to the polls to vote in the midterm elections. As it would happen, what sounds like a goofy good time that doesn’t warrant a second thought has lots of panties in bunch.

Lots of people, particularly conservatives, are pissed about this. Using models in this way is kind of sexist and shallow, but one could argue that 90% of all things models are expected to do are kind of sexist and shallow, so that’s really a different conversation for another day. What bothers the complainers most is how silly the whole charade was and the idea that it demeans voters. They feel it implies that the publication thinks young people are idiots who are only stimulated by partying and hot dudes. That’s a fair argument, but it’s also a little silly – Cosmo wouldn’t be asking these people to vote if they didn’t think they were smart! Would you want incapable, single-minded partiers having a say in choosing your leaders? Those magazine editors wouldn’t either. I have plenty of reservations regarding lady mags and the problematic ideals they project on women, but here’s the thing: Cosmo’s platform has always been about women being capable of more than just looking pretty and shutting up. It misses the mark fairly frequently, but every issue has that concept in mind on some level. Sometimes that means helping readers have a more fulfilling sex life. Sometimes that means giving them tips on scoring a dream job. Sometimes that means encouraging them to cast a fucking vote for the future of their country, because the contents of their brains are worth much more than their sexuality. Since when is a little fun mutually exclusive with the ability to make an intelligent decision?

The other thing worth considering is that Cosmo held a contest for this bus, and in order for NC State to win, one of its students had to submit a compelling application explaining how serious they are about encouraging their peers to give a damn about Election Day. Brains had to be part of the picture long before the male models showed up. The winning student was a sophomore named Camden Willeford, who wrote in his application, “This election is not a light matter here in NC. The weight is on the students of North Carolina State University.”

Gimmicks like this don’t just make the day fun for one college campus, they put the importance of student votes in the minds of thousands of other young readers who might be inspired to head to the polls in their own communities. In a society where a massive chunk of citizens can’t be bothered to vote, political participation needs all the public attention it can get. Young voters want to feel like somebody in this election actually cares about the things that are important them. While Cosmo can’t make public policy better for millennials, it can speak their language, and in turn, show them that this election is meant for every American to participate in — not just old rich guys. So if this fun little shtick is shallow, so be it. I’d rather have that than see thousands of capable voters opt out of shaping their government.

[Washington Post] [Image via Twitter]