Sue Ellen Browder wrote for Cosmopolitan magazine for 20 years, producing propaganda to sell women on the idea that sexual liberation is the path to the single woman’s personal fulfillment.
She’s no longer proud of her role in lying to women.
When she started, the feminist movement was about gaining equal rights for women in education and the work place.
“Women could not apply for credit in [their] own name. There were ‘help wanted’ ads—help wanted male and help wanted female,” she says. “Women couldn’t go to law school or medical schools in many cases. There was a lot of discrimination going on. And that is why in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, so many women of my generation identified with the feminist movement.”
The sexual revolution, on the other hand, “was fighting for all sorts of sexual freedoms.”
The two became intertwined in part because of the propaganda she wrote for Cosmo.
Beginning in 1971, Browder worked under the legendary Helen Gurley Brown, who was Cosmopolitan’s editor-in-chief for more than 30 years and author of the bestselling 1962 book “Sex and the Single Girl.”
Taking cues from Playboy magazine, Brown turned the struggling magazine into an international empire. She gave her writers a printed list of rules to follow, which included instructions about how to make up parts of their stories to sound more convincing. Continue reading