At last night’s Housing Works panel on the legacy of the late Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, Vice columnist Cat Marnell stood out. Wearing a tight, translucent white dress and leather jacket, she snapped her gum, played with her hair and alternately stared wide-eyed at the audience or down at her phone.
“I hate Gloria Steinem,” she announced at one point. “She’s boring and plain. My kind of feminism is that you want to be hot and awesome.”
If 1967 was the summer of love, 2012 might go down in the history books as the summer of snark. Just last week, Cindy Adams paid tribute to the departed Helen Gurley Brown by calling her chintzy and cheap, kvetching in The New York Post that the Cosmo editor and lipstick feminist once made her go all the way downtown to introduce her at a function, only to send a thank-you gift in a brown paper bag. (The gift, by the way, was a stuffed frog. If there was a coded message there, Ms. Adams clearly missed it while swiping at Ms. Brown’s old Chanel suits.)
As a single man, I live for the single girl.
With the passing of Helen Gurley Brown, the original Cosmo girl, the old debates about her retro-progressive, sex-positive brand of feminism will be rekindled. And even as she is lauded as a catalyst for a spectacular wave of newfound sexual empowerment among a gender that was often brow-beaten and moralized into frigid submission, she may well perpetually be reviled by the old-school feminist cadres whose humorlessness almost ruined feminism for the rest of us.
Red Carpet Real Estate
When Helen Gurley Brown died this Monday, she left behind a legacy of sexual liberation, generations of bereaved Cosmopolitan fans and a four-floor penthouse in one of the Beresford’s Southwest towers.
The fate of the tower apartment, which Brown and husband David Brown bought in the 1970s from director Mike Nichols, remains unknown. But its high place in Brown’s affections was no secret—it ranked right up there with sex, ambition and her husband. When asked by Vanity Fair where she would most like to live, Brown replied:
“Exactly where I am living—the Beresford Apartments, on Central Park West and 81st Street. We have the top four floors of a tower apartment. I’m slightly prejudiced, but I think it’s the best apartment in New York.”
Helen Gurley Brown, who gave single women across America a sense of liberation with her editorship of Cosmopolitan, has died at age 90.
With the help of a $30 M. gift from longtime Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown, Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and Stanford University’s School of Engineering have established the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation, the two universities and the Hearst Corporation announced today.
The Institute is inspired by David Brown, Ms. Brown’s late husband, a former journalist, publisher, film and theater producer who graduated from both Stanford and Columbia Journalism School.
Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown
By Jennifer Scanlon
Oxford, 270 pages, $27.95
That the first biography of Helen Gurley Brown, the longtime editor of gushing, glossy Cosmopolitan magazine, should be written by one Jennifer Scanlon, professor of gender and women’s studies at Bowdoin College, presents an irresistible, perhaps too-easy contraposition. Read More
Our summer interns have taken themselves (and probably our Nexis password) back to their fancy Ivy League colleges-not having done a lick of work all summer, by the way, and providing very little in the way of sloppy drunken sex-leaving us top ush papers for ourselves. (Rustle … rustle. ) Sooooo, let’s Read More
You don’t often find the President of France, Jacques Chirac, and former Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown celebrating together, but that’s what happened after Hillary Clinton’s strong statement of loyalty to her husband on Jan. 27. “Convey my admiration to Hillary Clinton,” Mr. Chirac said in a telephone conversation with the President of the United Read More