by , May 30, 2008, 1:45 PM
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The frenulum, the raphe, the ticki-bicki -- one of these is NOT an area on a man's body that can be stimulated for extra-credit "erotic excitement," according to the June issue of Cosmopolitan. Can you guess which it is?

So, yeah, Cosmo lives up to its reputation for providing explicit, sex-manual-worthy tidbits. Some seem potentially useful. Take the tips to focus on overlooked parts of the obvious male erogenous zones, like those areas named above (OK, not the tiki-biki). But others veer toward the absurd. Though, hmm... If I was at work, and I took the suggestion to insert a small, portable vibrator activated by ringtones, I'd get MUCH less irritated when a co-worker's unanswered cell played endless repetitions of the "Twilight Zone" theme.

Still, it's only in the sexual arena that Cosmo goes off the beaten track with unfamiliar vocabulary. In its other field of expertise, relationships, advice is dumbed-down and unsophisticated. Take "The Secret Girlfriend Weapon," which aims to put to practical use a study that "focusing on each other's good qualities" is key to a long-lasting love connection. Here 's the Cosmo-speak version: "Whatever your dude does that makes you crazy, find the silver lining. He's sloppy?.. So he'll probably let you make decisions like how to decorate the apartment. Niice."

The constant "dude" and "chick" references throughout the mag make me feel as if I'm trapped simultaneously in '90s and '60s time-warps. They drag the prose down to the level of the many pieces of reader-generated content, like "Bitch It Out" and "Guy Confessions" -- anecdotes about being caught in the (sexual) act, being hit in the balls during sports, etc. "I have a friend who comes over to eat my food and then leaves behind dirty dishes...." begins another fascinating entry. It's all very high school blogish.

The professionally written pieces do provide some flashes of insight and wit, like a great cavewoman-type dance invite I wish I'd had the chutzpah to try back in my single days: "You, Me. Dance floor. Now." "How To Snoop On Your Man" offers the obvious (examine every single thing he owns), except for the innovative tip to sniff a man's gym clothes: "They should be smelly. If not, where was he?"

If you're looking for genuine journalism, though, there's little beyond "How A Date Rapist Works," a well-written piece that clearly spells out how to avoid being a victim.

I haven't read Cosmo regularly since Helen Gurley Brown was editor (she stepped down more than 10 years ago). Sure, it could be annoyingly cutesy, and men were topic No. 1 then as now. But remember that old ad campaign from the Brown days: "If you want to find me, you'll catch me reading Cosmopolitan"? (Or words to that effect -- I couldn't find examples of the real copy. If anybody has, then I'd love to hear from you.) The women in those ads seemed a helluva lot more well-rounded than today's presumed reader -- didn't they mention interests like sky-diving?

On the day that the "Sex In The City"movie premieres, I'm wondering if (the younger) Carrie Bradshaw's columns would fit inside this incarnation of Cosmo. Or would her thoughtful explorations of relationship issues be considered too, oh, intellectual for the present target reader? If so, then -- dude, how sad is that?


Published by: Hearst
Frequency: Monthly
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