When Helen Gurley Brown passed away earlier this week at the age of 90, female journalists and writers came out en masse to laud Brown for her contributions to the sexual liberation of women and heralded her a feminist icon.
It’s true that Brown’s incredible 32-year reign at Cosmopolitan marked a sea change for women’s publications, offering a fresh, sexually liberated image of women “having it all” (which in Brown’s world meant sex, money and power). Brown wanted women to harness their femininity to get ahead, and many took to her female-forward, pro-sex message. But let’s not pretend Helen Gurley Brown’s “stiletto feminism” — to borrow a phrase from Washington Post writer Kathleen Parker — wasn’t also problematic. Keep reading »
Rivulets of mascara are streaming from big, false lashed-eyes everywhere: yesterday legendary Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown died in New York City at age 90.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Brown’s influence as a feminist and sex-positive editor of a major women’s magazine has left an indelible imprint on our popular culture, including on ladyblogs like The Frisky. (Yes, even though some of those Cosmo sex tips are dopey.) She may not have always gotten the respect she deserved in her lifetime — and there will no doubt be Cosmo detractors upon her death — but I would like to share with you some facts from this incredible woman’s life. In fact, she was declared a living legend by the New York Landmarks Conservancy!
Helen Gurley Brown is an editor, writer and woman whom I truly look up to for her ball-busting ways … here’s why.
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The most famous editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, Helen Gurley Brown, has died at the age of 90, according to a press release from Hearst. The controversial editor, who was also the author of the groundbreaking Sex and the Single Girl, passed away at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia after a short hospitalization. Brown was in charge of Cosmo for 32 years, and is credited with the mag’s sexually frank tone. She made news earlier this year when she donated $30 million to Columbia’s School of Journalism and Stanford’s School of Engineering. [The Wrap]
Lipstick and leopard print aren’t feminists’ usual weapons of choice, but the founding editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan always thought differently.
As the original “fun, fearless female,” Helen Gurley Brown lived a topsy-turvy life as a pioneer for women in media—and in the bedroom. A recent biography of Brown, Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown, by Jennifer Scanlon, argued that Brown is reason that the unmarried, financially stable single woman as we know her exists!
And now Lorraine Candy, former editor of British Cosmo has weighed in to dish about her career alongside don’t-tell-me-what-to-do firebrand. Keep reading »
The first biography of Helen Gurley Brown, who was Cosmopolitan‘s editor-in-chief for three decades, hits stores today, and we’ll be snapping up a copy after work. Written by Jennifer Scanlon, a professor of gender and women’s studies at Bowdoin College, Bad Girls Go Everywhere looks at Helen’s life from her start in an Arkansas town in the Ozarks to her rise from secretary to advertising copywriter to editor-in-chief. Scanlon compares Brown to feminist figures like Betty Friedan. Brown believed sex was a “powerful weapon” for single women and changed the Cosmo format so it addressed real women’s lives — sex and all. (However, she omitted certain realities from the magazine, including children and AIDS.) While Brown cared about looking put-together and slept with her bosses, she didn’t let those things replace any of her substance. To her, hard work was always the most important thing in getting what you wanted — making the most of your features and getting your dream job. Keep reading »
A forthcoming biography of legendary Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown, Bad Girls Go Everywhere, will reveal how the “Queen of Cosmo” finally got the axe after 32 years. Despite being a target for at least a decade, as circulation slipped, in the end it was her comments about sexual harassment and AIDS that led to her being forced to step down. Her damning comments after the jump. Keep reading »