Cosmo’s craziest sex tips yet: 50 takes on the missionary position

The women's magazine is getting back to basics -- but that still means failing to include lesbians

Topics: Sex, Cosmopolitan, women's magazines, sex tips, , ,

Cosmo's craziest sex tips yet: 50 takes on the missionary position

The editors of Cosmopolitan.com have taken a position no one ever would have expected them to take: missionary. The women’s magazine and its online counterpart, both known for their racy and often physically dangerous sex tips, are firing back at criticism of the site’s recent effort to expand to a lesbian audience, after one Huffington Post blogger tested each of Cosmo’s “28 Mind-Blowing Lesbian Sex Positions” and found them to be “hetero-normative fantasies of lesbian sex at their worst and silly at their best.”

In their response, the Cosmo editors have decided to remove fantasy altogether and offer basic sex advice for real people, as illustrated by “real” people. Nicknamed “50 Shades of Missionary,” the positions are all slight variations on — you guessed it — missionary-style sex, portrayed by a man and woman who are both dressed in cotton spandex unitards. If there’s one word to describe the collection, it’d probably be “nuanced”: Cosmo is sure to differentiate between “Arms Straight Missionary” and “Arms Bent Missionary,” as well as “Hand-on-Boob Missionary” and “Hand-on-Other-Boob Missionary.”

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While the 50 “new” tips make for a fun response to longtime complaints about the ridiculousness of Cosmo’s sex advice, they might not be the most fitting response to the criticism they’re intended to address. As Jenny Block, the writer who critiqued Cosmo’s lesbian sex positions, notes in her original post, the site’s instructions for two women having sex with each other have the potential to perpetuate misinformation about lesbian sex:

[These positions] are straight imaginations of what real women do in bed. If you’re still confused, let me just be really clear here: We have sex. We fuck. We use our fingers and our bodies and our mouths and our toys and we get ourselves and each other off. Just like straight people do. There’s stimulation and penetration and vibration. There’s licking and sucking and smacking and grabbing. There’s kissing and playing and laughing and coming. Lots and lots of coming. …

I will say that Cosmo has a bad habit of offering silly sex advice to straight people too. (Remember the donut on the penis… ) So, it’s nice to know they come by this kind of nonsense honestly.

But there’s an added layer when it comes to misinformation about lesbian sex. This kind of garbage just adds to the idea that lesbians exist for male enjoyment somehow and that we don’t have “real” sex and that we’re silly girls pulling each others’ hair and having pillow fights. So, in that case, this stuff is downright dangerous.

Unfortunately, the 50 missionary positions do little to rectify the problems Block points out, especially given that they’re meant as a guide for vaginal penetration between a man and a woman. If, however, the Cosmo editors decide to create a similar guide for how “real” lesbians have sex — without attempting to dictate normative sexuality, without poking too much fun at “real” sex and without including the risk of serious injury — then they might be getting somewhere. In the meantime, many couples should be able to appreciate the safe novelty of the “Nice-to-Meet-You Missionary” position.

Jenny Kutner

Jenny Kutner is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on sex, gender and feminism. Follow @jennykutner or email jkutner@salon.com.

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