When I heard Helen Gurley Brown passed away earlier this week, ashamed to say, I really didn’t know who she was. The more I learned about her the more I wished I had. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine in 1967. Helen attributed to the success of women having sexual freedom and healthy relationships today.
We all have memories of the first time we read Cosmopolitan. I am the youngest of four, my oldest sister, Valerie, is ten years older than me. I remember when my sister used to come home from college and bring her Cosmo. My brother, Colin, (who is just year older than me) and I would steal the magazine and bring it downstairs to the basement. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I was just as surprised by the beautiful women as my brother was. They didn’t have any freckles, they had all their teeth, and they had boobs! I remember the surge of envy and excitement that shot through me. I so badly wanted to be where they were: an adult woman who had conquered puberty and could go buy bubble gum and fake cigarettes any time she wanted.
In her article, “Why You and I Need to Thank Cosmopolitan’s Helen Gurley Brown-RIP,” Bonnie Fuller writes: “When you look at the opportunities that you have today to choose the college and career of your choice. The fact that you have equal relationships with the men you love, and that you can have a sex life that you enjoy — you have to thank Helen.”
Helen is also known for writing, Sex and the Single Girl. A book that caused much commotion at the time it was published, 1962.
Dr. Ruth says, while she may be known for opening the airwaves for women to discuss sex, it was really Helen Gurley Brown who allowed it all to happen in the first place. In an article by Ruth Westheimer, from cnn.com, “I’ve been given a lot of credit for opening up the airwaves to frank sexual material, but I doubt without Helen Gurley Brown’s pioneering articles in Cosmopolitan that I could have gotten away with as much as I did.”
In her article, Fuller says, “You were supposed to become a housewife, defer to your husband and forget about thinking about sexual fulfillment — you weren’t supposed to talk, think or have sex until you were married. And even then, there was no such thing for women as HOT sex.”
Helen also stressed the importance of women seeking out careers in order to gain not only financial independence but also, a sense of self-fulfillment in a time when women were, “the most discriminated group in America.”
Thank you Helen for your bravery in enduring all of the criticism from men and women in order to give us the gift of shamelessly embracing our sexuality.