Walmart might be advancing the #MeToo movement with its decision to remove Cosmopolitan magazine from its checkout line shelves.
Then again, maybe it’s just another round in a fight over racy magazines at supermarkets. (The glossy, ad-laden publication will still be available in Walmart stores, among the latest issues of other popular fare.)
The magazine that made its name with provocative covers will no longer be found in Walmart on sale at the checkout lines, a move that the company is calling a “business decision” but which one advocacy group is touting as a victory against sexual exploitation.
Cosmopolitan, owned by Hearst Communications, describes itself as a “bible for fun, fearless females that reaches more than 18 million readers a month.” In its early days, it made a splash with its provocative covers and sex advice for readers. It has been critiqued for marrying its racier content with young starlets on its covers.
The move is being celebrated as a victory by The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), an advocacy group that got its start campaigning against pornography.
“You can go through and buy your groceries with your family knowing you don’t have to be exposed to this graphic and often degrading and offensive material,” NCOSE Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach Haley Halverson said in a Facebook live session Tuesday. “Instead, all of these magazines will be moved, in isolation, to the magazine racks.”
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However, Walmart wants to appear unmoved by outside pressure, and it has claimed the magazine was moved for “business reasons,” though it acknowledges that “the concerns raised were heard.”
USA Today reported:
In a statement shared with USA TODAY, Walmart spokesperson Meggan Kring said: “As with all products in our store, we continue to evaluate our assortment and make changes. Walmart will continue to offer Cosmopolitan to customers that wish to purchase the magazine, but it will no longer be located in the checkout aisles. While this was primarily a business decision, the concerns raised were heard.”
Some are viewing this decision against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, which has many organizations reevaluating how women are treated in the workplace.
USA Today continued:
Walmart’s decision comes amid the Me Too movement and a national reckoning on sexual harassment, according to Halverson.
“This is one less drop of hyper-sexualized media that is going to be bombarding people in their everyday lives, which does make a difference, especially in this Me Too culture that we’re living in, where we really want a culture that will respect women and ensure their dignity is understood,” Halverson said.
Some see this move as the wrong response to the #MeToo efforts to empower women.
Mashable ‘s coverage began:
The #MeToo era is upon us, and one would think magazine covers showcasing talented and influential women would be empowering. But someone forgot to tell Walmart.
The writer Nicole Gallucci went on to defend the articles found within Cosmo’s pages, citing “moving personal essays, helpful style and beauty suggestions, and informative sexual health and relationship tips.”
In an op-ed for The Arizona Republic, Elvia Diaz condemned Walmart’s decision:
Women have fought hard on all fronts, including the ability to openly talk about sex and educate youngsters about it. Are we seriously going to applaud efforts of the puritans to keep a national publication out of easy reach because it covers sex?
Sure, you can get the magazine in checkout aisles elsewhere. But that’s not the point. It’s about a retail giant telling customers what they should or shouldn’t read.
What’s next? A ban on sex talk because it offends some?
On Twitter, many shared their displeasure:
Cosmopolitan being axed from Walmart checkouts is shameful. The #MeToo movement is so not about blaming women, conservative women are victims of sexual assault too.
— Talia 🎀 (@taltemme) March 28, 2018
Others were upset that #MeToo was the justification for the removal:
actually, getting rid of cosmo in the name of Me Too is Bad https://t.co/Lr1BhtMrG0
— susie heller (@susiehheller) March 27, 2018
Walmart using #MeToo as an excuse to stop selling Cosmopolitan in checkout lines is pretty ridiculous. Censoring frank information about sex feeds into rape culture by denying girls knowledge about their sexuality and choices they can make for themselves.https://t.co/gyPllZ7QFV pic.twitter.com/YiwQQF0Vd7
— Alex Berg (@itsalexberg) March 28, 2018
Twitter wouldn’t be Twitter without some snark, of course:
Walmart just announced that it’s removing @cosmopolitan from check-out lines. I wish they would have done this before my then 8-year-old asked me what “spicy orgasms” were and why would somebody need two of them.
— Drew Kelly (@DrewKellyPSU) March 28, 2018
Others noted that, all things considered, moving the magazine to another part of the store was small potatoes:
Walmart is changing the location of @Cosmopolitan magazine!?
Walk on over to the ISOLATED section and toss it in your cart along with the hundreds of other ‘hidden’ publications. #MeToo #Cosmo
— Christy (@IMNERHO) March 28, 2018
— Ricky Butler (@ricky_butler90) March 28, 2018