Glossed Over isn't too fond of the fiction excerpt in this month's Cosmo, because it (sorta, kinda) romanticizes assault.
The "Red Hot Read" question is from Marianne Stillings's novel Satisfaction, and it concerns sexy TV host Georgie and her sexy bodyguard Ethan. Before they can have sexy sex, there needs to be some sexy conflict, and at one point Georgie departs for her sexy bedroom. This ensues:
“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.
Glossed Over says,
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!
So obviously a man climbing onto your bed uninvited is potentially a scary experience. But is it assault? Is it surprising that, as Glossed Over says, Ethan "somehow avoid[s] criminal charges"? The line between unwanted flirting and threatening behavior is a little different for every woman, but touching a woman's cheek and even sitting on her bed — as long as you get the hell out if she tells you to — hardly makes you a rapist.
And, of course, this is fantasy, where it's possible to enjoy things that might be scary in real life. But Glossed Over does have a good point that Cosmo's still pretty old-fashioned, both in fantasy and reality. She gives this example from the article "Are You Crazy Enough in Bed?"
But even guys who are kinkier sometimes don't like it when a woman kick-starts the action. "It seems that men want you to be open to experimentation in the bedroom when they suggest it, but they don't necessarily want you to initiate the wilder moves," says Amy Levine, certified sexuality educator and founder of sexedsolutions.com. "Proposing anything that may appear choreographed can give them the impression that you've tried doing that with lots of other guys."
Cosmo may not be glorifying rape, exactly, but it does give a pretty one-sided view of female sexuality, one in which we all wait in our beds for men to come and try kinky stuff out on us. Which is hardly "Red Hot."
Cosmpolitan's Confounding Ideas About Kink and Consent [Glossed Over]