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Taking Action to Cover Up Cosmo

By May 17, 2013Tennessee
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Tennessee has an obscenity law that has been on the books since 1989, and it is not being enforced. We realize that our police and local law enforcement have other pressing issues they face every day, and may not have the time or the workforce to follow up on this particular issue. To read the law click here.

That’s where you and I can help. You may not have noticed, but magazines like Cosmopolitan and Seventeen have become more and more racy to the point of being pornographic. I will not go into all the details, but browse through a copy for yourself. The April issue of Cosmopolitan is particularly offensive, describing in intimate detail “what, how, who and when.” These magazines are right in the front of the store, available to any child with the money to pay for them.

We are partnering with Victoria Hearst (granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst), who started this campaign several years ago, by asking Cosmopolitan executives to cover up their magazine. Their response was deafening silence. So, the next step was to contact Concerned Women for America, and now we are working together to educate stores and regulating authorities to the law that is already in place in Tennessee and that the violation of this law is a Class A misdemeanor.

We are asking that the magazines be covered in plastic and placed in the back of the store on a high shelf, like all other pornographic material. This may also entail an alert at checkout to have the clerk ask for ID to ensure the purchaser is not under 18. Basically, we are just asking that they follow the law.

To read more about CWA and Victoria Hearst click here.

Here is what our plan of action is:

We are educating store owners and managers by writing letters and requesting local legislators to write letters to the corporate offices of major retailers. We met with the regulatory agency, Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs, asking them to hold stores accountable to the law. They stated they have not received any complaints regarding this issue, and it hasn’t been a problem. We informed them that CWA has 5,000 members across the state, and we would be happy to let them know how we feel about pornography being sold to minors. Here are a few ways to help and let your voice be heard:

1. Go to their website and file a complaint. Fill it out with the information of your local grocery or “big box” store. Use the current date. Copy and paste the following paragraph to “briefly describe your complaint.” “The blatant display of pornography in the front of the store at eye-level of minors, with no restriction for minors to be able to purchase this obscene material, disregards and is a violation of TCA 39-17-911 thru 914 the Tennessee Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation Act of 1990.”

2. When you do send a complaint, please send us an e-mail at and let us know the date and county from where your complaint was sent. We will be meeting again with the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs, and we would like to have a rough number of complaints in case they come back with “We haven’t received any complaints.” They also stated they need complaints from every county in order to support action to be taken in this case.

3. While those things are being done, you can also help by educating your friends and forwarding this e-mail to them.

4. Have a copy of the law (see above link) with you, and when you see that there is a violation, ask for the store manager. This is an example of what you could say: “Hi my name is ___________. I was looking at the magazines and noticed that Cosmopolitan is right where small children can pick it up and read it. I just wanted you to know that Tennessee has a law regarding this. (Give them the copy of the law) You probably didn’t know about it. This type of material really needs to be bagged and put in the back of the store like Maxim. It should not be readily available for purchase by minors.

Thank you for your time and have a nice day.”If you would like to take action, but cannot help in the ways listed above, consider making a donation to our state organization. This would help cover the cost of postage and travel to the various meetings with local legislators, regulatory authorities and retail outlets. Please contact me if you have any questions and we will keep you updated as we get more information.


Brenda Causey
State Director
CWA of Tennessee
(615) 943-4292