Cosmpolitan's Confounding Ideas About Kink and Consent
I don’t often bother with Cosmopolitan’s “Red Hot Read,” an ostensibly sexy excerpt from a recently published novel, for two reasons: generally, more stimulating content can be found within an episode of Degrassi from 2004, and because Cosmo's reality is trying enough. I'm not really pining to know what Cosmo's editors fantasize about.
But because the January issue was atypically lacking in gag-inducing content (or perhaps I just wasn’t reading very closely), I waded through this month’s two-page excerpt from the forthcoming book Satisfaction by Marianne Stillings.
The result? I’m a little unsettled at what’s being passed off as the epitome of swept-away passion.
The novel's main character, Georgie, is a TV host who, for reasons left unexplicated in the text here, has the need for a full-time bodyguard. I’m guessing she’s incredibly beautiful and she’s being stalked by some kind of blandly dressed, asocial psycho who lives with his mother and believes he’s in love with her, because isn’t that usually the case?
Georgie and her guardian Ethan—who’s totally gorgeous, natch—are in a hotel bar for reasons beyond the scope of the excerpt (and perhaps beyond the scope of my comprehension). Our plucky heroine decides to return to her room, so jealous of the attention Ethan is attracting from other women that she’s willing to flounce off alone! Without protection! Ethan decides to escort her upstairs because, well, that’s what he’s getting paid for.
Here’s where it gets weird. Er, weirder:
“Thanks for everything,” she said, letting herself in. But as the door was about to shut, Ethan stepped in… He closed the door, locking it behind him. “I’m staying here tonight,” he said.
[Ethan claims the couch. Georgie goes to bed.]
Then the bed sank down. She turned to see Ethan sitting next to her.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Don’t you know, Georgie?” he said, putting his hand on her cheek. “I want you. I have for a long time. I want to have sex with you. And I think you want the same thing.”
…Her pulse quickened, and she knew she should push him away. “Are you sure you want this?” she asked.
Wait, what? He’s climbing into her bed uninvited and she’s asking him for consent? Am I the only one who sees a problem here?
Oh, I forgot, his advances are totally justified. She had lustful thoughts about him, so he’s totally within his rights. After all, he’s almost certain that she feels the same way!
And anyway, says Cosmo, it's not like women are supposed to be in charge of any kind of bedroom action. In “Are You Crazy Enough in Bed?” on page 90, an expert opines:
So guys initiating sex (and somehow avoiding criminal charges) by climbing into bed uninvited? Hot! Women doing something that might make a man think she's ever been intimate with someone else? Not okay.
Cosmo, I will never understand you.