Cosmopolitan magazine last week published an interview with Brooke Sever, who is identified as “the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Middle East, which predominantly sells in Dubai, as well as in Beirut in Lebanon.” Says Sever: “As soon as you say you’re the editor of Cosmo in the Middle East, people just suddenly have this confused expression on their face and have a million questions.”
Cosmo claims that in the interview, Sever “explains of the complexities of publishing her magazine each month,” but in fact she explains nothing: the entire interview is all about how sharia restricts women’s rights, yet shows the lengths to which Sever and Cosmo will go to obscure what the root cause of those restrictions are.
The interview with Sever reveals almost as much by what she doesn’t say as by what she does. Cosmo is a women’s fashion magazine. Cosmopolitan Middle East should have at least something to say about the hijab, niqab, and burqa – yet Sever has nothing to say about any of them, despite the fact that there is no greater article of hate and misogyny than the burqa. It is the most tangible anti-women symbol known to the world.
Why is it that? Because of what it covers up. Woman. This is Cosmo: its raison d’etre is the allure and sexuality of woman — the very thing sharia means to extinguish – and in Cosmopolitan Middle East, Sever and the other editors of Cosmo are adhering to that.
This entire article laments and bemoans the prohibitions on what they can and cannot publish, yet neither Sever, nor Cosmo’s interviewer, Tess Koman, ever mentions the reason why. Their silence about this no doubt stems from the fact that sharia forbids criticism of sharia – on pain of death. Sever and Koman adhere to this code even as they lament its restrictions.
Sever worries that something she publishes can land her in jail. Under what law? Here again, she never says, and here again, it’s under sharia law.
Sever had a real opportunity to explain to young women the grim reality of sharia oppression of women. But she did nothing. She has an obligation to educate young women on what will be the gravest threat to their freedom in the coming years. But she remained silent.
This unwillingness to confront the problem showed up most vividly when Koman asked, “What kind of political or societal barriers do you run up against?” Sever answered: “We get by on euphemisms. It’s all about getting creative with language.” If she spoke about such issues at all, she might use euphemisms for gender apartheid, creed apartheid, female genital mutilation, and the like. But she doesn’t speak about such matters at all. She is conforming to sharia’s speech codes. That’s not “creative”; that’s submissive and conquered.
Sever also admits that they cannot run a model wearing a cross. Why not? She doesn’t say, but lists a number of sharia restrictions:
We cannot publish images of alcohol, we can’t show pictures of things like, if a model was wearing a necklace with a cross on it, a Christian cross, we couldn’t run that. We can’t refer to Cosmo as a Bible, as Cosmo would be referred to in the U.S. You know, it’s a twentysomething girl’s Bible — not in the Middle East, because you can’t say that. And even down to how much skin we can display. We have to do quite a bit of retouching to flatten boobs, lift up skirts so that midriff is reduced, bring down kind of high-cut underwear so, you know, underbum doesn’t show. We get pretty pervy with some of the pictures that we run because we have to look really, really closely to make sure that there is nothing too offensive. From a guy perspective, we are completely OK to run a completely topless man. There is no problem with that. But you know, heaven forbid we show a shadow of a cleavage. It’s pretty tough.
So when the magazine that epitomizes women’s freedom and celebrates her sexuality gets to the Middle East, it freely surrenders and conforms to the most oppressive, anti-women legal and societal code on the face of the earth. You would think that Western women’s magazines might be a bit bold in the face of that oppression, but they are the worst – witness the lengthy, fawning puff piece on the Ground Zero Mosque imam’s wife, Daisy Khan, that ran a few years ago in MORE magazine.
Where are the pieces on brave women who have stood up to sharia oppression? When is Cosmo going to give us an interview with Wafa Sultan? Where is the MORE magazine profile of Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Nonie Darwish? Or Pamela Geller?
Where also are the pieces in Cosmopolitan Middle East that discuss the reality of women under sharia? A jihadi from the United States, Abu-Khalid al-Amriki, recently cautioned women that if they married a jihad warrior, they would be subject to sharia restrictions, including “staying in a room for several months with no contact to the outside world” and “not being able to see the sun.” Why? Because Islamic law mandates that women not venture out of the house without being covered from head to toe, and they can only go out with permission from a male guardian. Al-Amriki’s words serve as a warning to young Muslim and convert women – a warning Brooke Sever should have given.
Brooke Sever and Cosmo have accepted sharia and its restrictions. Yet they make no mention of Islam or sharia in the article. They’ve done all free young women a tremendous disservice. They have disarmed them in the war of ideas.
Pamela Geller is the President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), publisher of PamelaGeller.com and author of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America and Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance. Follow her on Twitter here. Like her on Facebook here.