Walmart will remove Cosmopolitan magazine from checkout lines at 5,000 stores across the country, according to a press release from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), an anti-pornography advocacy group.

Walmart has been displaying the magazine in checkout lines but putting blinder wrappers over the cover. NCOSE has been pushing Walmart to remove the magazine from the checkout area altogether after previously advocating for more stringent enforcement of the blinder policy.

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Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said in a statement:

This is what real change looks like in our #MeToo culture, and NCOSE is proud to work with a major corporation like Walmart to combat sexually exploitative influences in our society. Women, men, and children are bombarded daily with sexually objectifying and explicit materials, not only online, but in the checkout line at the store.

Cosmo sends the same messages about female sexuality as Playboy. It places women’s value primarily on their ability to sexually satisfy a man and therefore plays into the same culture where men view and treat women as inanimate sex objects. Further, Cosmo targets young girls by placing former Disney stars on its covers, despite the enclosed sexually erotic articles which describe risky sexual acts like public, intoxicated, or anal sex in detail. Customers should not be forced to be exposed to this content when they are trying to check-out at the store.

Walmart’s removal of Cosmo from checkout lines is an incremental but significant step toward creating a culture where women and girls are valued as whole persons, rather than as sexual objects. We are grateful for Walmart’s cooperation and for Walmart leadership’s recognition that corporations must do their part to change #MeToo culture.

I’m old enough to remember when cultural conservatives and feminists had a brief, shaky, and often strange alliance against porn (and to a lesser extent, explicit musical material), and the rhetoric here reminds me of that. I’m going to confess that I have never read Cosmo or noticed that Walmart carries it. 

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