On being ‘The Virgin’ at Cosmo

Guest post by Libby Feltch

Besides offering “The Naughty Orgasm Trick Couples Love” and “25 Sex Moves He Secretly Wishes You’d Try,” the cover of the September 2012 issue of Cosmo features a tiny cloud clip art that reads “Help! I’m a Virgin at Cosmo.” The author of the article and V-card holder in question is Malia Griggs, one of Cosmo’s editorial assistants. She writes about being comfortable with her sexuality and how she doesn’t think virginity is that big of a deal, but she also admits to delaying the reveal of her sexual status until after she was hired and feeling weird about working for a sex magazine when she has never had PIV sex.

Her article is casual and honest, but the way the editors (I’m assuming) organized its presentation is a little off-putting.

A section that lists awkward stories from work mentions Griggs’ discomfort one day when she had to announce, “We’re ready for the penis meeting now.” However, I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people who would feel awkward saying that regardless of whether or not they have had P-I-V sex, but the magazine presents her feelings as a symptom of not being sexually active.

The largest accompanying photo shows Griggs wearing pink, conservative pajamas sitting on a bed of white with a definition of sex written by her hip:

Sex (n): Something everyone else seems to have done that she hasn’t.

Griggs only makes reference to her lack of P-I-V sex experience and is sure to mention the fact that she has “come very close to having sex,” so it’s interesting that they chose to photograph her looking pure and innocent. I honestly can’t tell if they are framing her this way as a joke, playing on the standard trope that a woman isn’t a sexual being until she’s had a penis inside her, or if they just threw together a standard “virgin” color palette and snapped a quick pic.

It’d be interesting to see how a male-targeted sex magazine would execute a piece with this same premise. I’m imagining it would focus more on helping the author get laid, but maybe I’ve just watched The 40-Year-Old Virgin an embarrassing number of times.

Anyway, the article sort of reminds me of the First Person stories on this blog. It’d be a dead ringer if the blog posts were accompanied with awkward photos and cringe-worthy captions like “Malia at work–this virgin gets the job done” (…actual caption from the article, I’ve been day dreaming about what the creative process looked like for that one).

You can follow Libby on twitter at @mylittleviking (just as soon as she starts tweeting).

Question: Do you feel uncomfortable talking about sex when you haven’t had a lot of first-hand experience?

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  1. Posted September 21, 2012 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    You’re probably correct about the tone of the male-focused sex magazine, but are we assuming the article’s author would be male or female? I fear the former would be inundated with PUA foofery while the latter would be skeeved out by all the attention she’d receive. (And now my mind wanders to that time I applied for a vacant copy editor position at Playboy….)

    As for the question: Sex doesn’t come up too often in my circles, but I will admit to being a bit of a homebody. I don’t feel particularly uneasy when it comes up as I listen to several sex-related podcasts (Savage Lovecast, Sex Nerd Sandra, etc.) and can usually snark/bluster/fake my way through anything tricky. I’d probably get sussed out if the conversation got too specific, though.

    • Therese
      Posted September 29, 2012 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      I never considered what kind of experience a woman working at a lad magazine might have. That feels like it would be very gross, indeed. Or maybe I’m just generalizing about what I think those guys might be like. Full of PUA tomfoolery for sure. Who does that work for?

  2. Libby
    Posted October 4, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t even think about that! I very foolishly only imagined what would happen with a male writer at a male sex magazine. Does anyone know of anything written about just being a part of one of those magazines, in general, through the lens of a female author? I tried a vague google search and nothing came up.

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