In contrast to the previous post, here’s a different aspect of multifaceted Turkey. The recently deceased writer and editor Helen Gurley Brown was noted for her 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl and for transforming the magazine Cosmo, making it about young women’s sexual and lifestyle freedom rather than about jello recipes. But the Turkish edition of the now international Cosmo in 1994 was too much even for her. To be fair, the US mothership Cosmo also experimented with nude male centerfolds (memorably Burt Reynolds with his arm conveniently covering his bits), but for some reason actually drawing overt attention to the male or female crotch — or the sex act itself — struck Brown as unladylike and too raunchy.
What’s interesting is that until the 1980s, Turkish magazines and newspapers printed large photos of naked women with almost nothing left to the imagination (the tiny black censure stripes were often misplaced). Satirical magazines had lots of explicit drawings of sexual coupling, with no censure stripes at all. Newsstands displayed the naked women fully visible. That was clearly meant for a male audience. I wonder what the Turkish Cosmo editor had in mind when she put men’s crotches in the magazine a decade later — fair turnaround?
On other issues — whips, chains, and snakes — the editor might have been ahead of her time. Note the sadomasochistic romance porn selling like hotcakes these days among middle class women in the US, UK, and elsewhere. There are now reportedly Tupperware-like parties for S&M sex toys. Anyone know how 50 Shades of Grey is selling in Turkey? With so much actual violence against women, is sadomasochism even viable as a recreational option? No safewords.
The following is a post in lettersofnote.com. Click here for the rest of Helen Gurley Brown’s letter.
…In April of 1994, after being shown a copy of the publication’s Turkish edition, legendary Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown wrote the following amusingly despairing letter to its editor, Elif Dagistanli. The two ladies never did meet at the conference — soon after the letter reached Turkey, Dagistanli was relieved of her job.
(Source: Dear Pussycat…)
April 14, 1994
You and I don’t know each other and I’m looking forward to our getting acquainted. We will do that when Cosmo has a conference of international editors this October. Elif, I’m not the one who decides what to put in your magazine—the editor is the sole judge—but I really feel we can’t do what you are doing. Ecran Arikli I think would not have made an agreement with Hearst Corporation, who own Cosmo, if they wanted the magazine to be something totally different from the Cosmopolitan that we publish—otherwise they would just have started a new magazine without bothering with us. What I am getting at is that the cover is totally unacceptable! If you want to do your own magazine, that is one thing, but if you want to edit Cosmo, then we simply don’t use men on the cover let alone one with his pants open—there! May I go on? The naked girl with one hand on her crotch and one on her bosom is also pretty strong for us.
What is the girl with the whip on pages 84 and 85—it looks very sado-masochistic, a subject we might deal with but never in such a glamorous way. That would also go for the girl with the chains around her neck on page 87—if I’ve got my pages right. (It would be nice to see some page numbers a little often. The last one I saw was on page 80.) I think this is 93 but not sure. Anyway, the blonde girl is too “raunchy” for us—definitely not a Cosmo girl.
Our women are sexy and gorgeous but they don’t look like girls from a burlesque show.
Next we get on to the men’s section with the man looking like a vampire in striped pajamas. On the next spread we have a man with a snake crawling on his face and opposite him a man fondling his crotch.
Elif, really, this isn’t the right direction to go in everybody’s opinion who has anything to do with the magazine….