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KORENICH: Walmart #MeToo effort misguided

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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Walmart recently decided to remove the popular women’s magazine Cosmopolitan from checkout lines at 5,000 stores across the U.S. Cosmopolitan is a popular women’s magazine featuring fashion, sex advice, beauty and more. Although the company said this was primarily a business decision, Haley Halverson, the vice president of advocacy and outreach at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, told a different story. Halverson said, “You can go through and buy your groceries with your family knowing you don’t have to be exposed to this graphic and often degrading and offensive material.”  

Halverson also cited the #MeToo movement in the decision to remove the magazine from the checkout line display. She stated, “We really want a culture that will respect women and ensure their dignity is understood.” Unfortunately, Halverson and Walmart are completely missing the point of the #MeToo movement. The #MeToo movement has primarily focused on stopping and educating people about sexual harassment and assault, not on getting rid of pornography. The movement is trying to empower safe and consensual sex, not hide sexual content from people.  

 Walmart is not removing the magazine from the store completely, one thing it is doing right. Readers will still have access to Cosmopolitan in the designated magazine aisle. The company may not realize that this decision is making information regarding women and sex less accessible. Instead of just grabbing the magazine on the way out, consumers have to be conscious about going to get the magazine. 

This wouldn’t be such a big deal if women’s health information wasn’t constantly hidden and difficult to attain in the first place. Women have been denied knowledge about their personal sexuality and sexual decisions for years.  

 Metoomvmt.org states that the #MeToo movement was founded to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly young women of color from low wealth communities, find pathways to healing. This mission statement really focuses on the importance of knowledge and healing.

 When companies or individuals decide to make information regarding women’s sexuality, sexual health, or just plain information about sex hard to find and access, they are feeding into rape culture. It should be normal for women to talk about sex. It should be easy for women to read about their bodies and sexuality.  

 When referencing the #MeToo movement, it is extremely important to do so correctly. Walmart, and anyone else for that matter, should study and read about what the movement is before citing it as an excuse for a company’s business decision. It is insulting to the movement and all those fighting for their rights when the point is just completely missed. 

 Women’s sexuality and sexual health information have long been ignored. It is not something that is explicitly taught in schools, and there is oftentimes feelings of shame or guilt around wanting to know certain information or to discover more. It is movements like this and the recent surge of women’s marches advocating for various women’s rights that have helped to make this information more readily accessible and less of a taboo.  

 There are magazines out there that feature half-naked males on the cover and sex tips for men, and these are not the magazines being moved to the back of the store. When the information is regarding women, it is somehow not suitable for children and “bad” to have in checkout lines.

 If stores feel like they need to move a women’s magazine to the back of a store because of its “explicit” and non-family friendly content, then they should be doing the same thing with magazines featuring males in a similar light. This pattern of censoring women and not men is something that is all too familiar.

This double standard seems to keep popping up surrounding women’s issues. To dismantle this, and have instances like this appear less the most important thing is to be educated and aware of the issues. Moreover, having resources can also be valuable in helping people who desire or need them.

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