Down Under, two of the major teen magazines, rivals Dolly and Girlfriend, are banding together to fight government suggestions that the magazines come with "audience age recommendations," because of the sexually-explicit nature of their question-and answer-sections. According to the Daily Telegraph, "Tasmanian Senator Stephen Parry said he was concerned readers as young as 11 were writing in for answers to questions on anal and oral sex." (Because if they don't read the magazine, their questions will magically disappear, right?) Dolly editor Gemma Crisp told a government inquiry, "We see it as a service. It's our responsibility to provide the correct information rather than them (readers) saying to their 15-year-old friend, 'my boyfriend wants me to do this, how do I deal with it?'" We decided to see what kind of advice the American teen magazines are giving their readership. A look at sex coverage on the websites of Teen Vogue, Cosmo Girl, Elle Girl, YM and Seventeen, after the jump.
Teen Vogue: Teen Vogue's website doesn't seem to have any sex coverage at all. Its drop-down menu on the homepage has five sections: Style, Industry Insider, Beauty, Team Vogue and Connect. And although there are no articles about sex or question-and-answer style features, there is a fair amount of sex talk on the largely unregulated Message Boards. Sample thread starter: "I haven't had sex in over two weeks. its starting to wear on me but my boyfriend is out of town and i don't want to cheat on him because i've already done that too much. I guess i just have to stay strong but its hard. TIPS?!?!?!"
Cosmo Girl!: Ah, Cosmo Girl. The website's "Sex" section is part of a drop down menu titled "Guys" (also available under the heading "Life Advice") where the magazine has a panel of reasonable experts answering questions like "Can you get pregnant if a guy fingers you with sperm on his hand?" They don't talk down to the girls, and seem to be giving straight talk. Alongside the prudent advice is a lot of boy craziness including recurring features like "Hook A Hottie", "Guy Videos", "Eye Candy", "Guide To Guys" — the list goes on.
Elle Girl: The sex coverage on Elle Girl is also pretty minimal. The brunt of it is articles like How to Deal ...With a Guy Who's Just After a Hookup and quizzes such as Are you a bad girlfriend?. None of these are particularly informative or sex-positive.
Seventeen: The bottom line of Seventeen's sex stories is always, "don't get knocked up". There's an entire section devoted to "preventing pregnancy." While the idea of sex for pleasure's sake is definitely not the backbone of Seventeen's health section, they do an admirable job in answering the tough questions, like the age-old query, "Can I Get Pregnant From Having Sex in Water?"
YM : Back in the early-mid-90s when I was a burgeoning teen, YM was the repository for the raciest sex stories. The magazine was never huge on serious content or real advice, though. It's a bit tamer than I remember — where are all the blow job questions? — but the "Say Anything" section still provides the same level of teen mortification it always did.
Magazine Readers Want Sex [Daily Telegraph]