Federal Appeals Court Judge Alex Pierpont ruled yesterday that the photo on the cover of the current issue of Cosmopolitan magazine showing a front view of a fully nude woman is not pornography and can be displayed and sold in convenience markets.
The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Hearst Corporation (publishers of Cosmopolitan) against Square D Stores, Inc., alleging that they unfairly took copies of the magazine off of sales racks when the issue with the nude photo came out last month.
"We're very pleased," a Hearst spokesperson told reporters. "We felt all along that there was nothing wrong with the cover photo because it was a teaser for an article inside the magazine on how women could improve their self-image by improving their body-image. This is clearly a self-help article, and can in no way be considered pornography."
However, lawyers for Playboy magazine are appealing the current ruling as well as one made by the same judge four months ago upholding the removal of Playboy from the same convenience market chain's shelves because cover photos showed full frontal female nudity.
"When two magazines have the same cover photos and one is adjudged pornographic and one not, then we have a clear case of discrimination," attorney William Barton told us, "and we certainly mean to appeal this ridiculous decision to the highest court in the land."
"Nonsense!" a source close to Judge Pierpont said. "Women's magazines are published solely to inform and entertain their readership – primarily women – and photos published in conjunction with how-to and self-help articles in magazines of this genre clearly fall in the educational category. However, the same photos, when published in men's magazines, obviously have no redeeming social values; they cater solely to the reader's prurient interests, and should therefore be banned as simple pornography."
All that roundabout reasoning may be correct, and the implied double standard upheld, but we probably won't have the final word until and unless the case is heard by the Supreme Court.
Until then, it seems that nude photos on magazine covers will be considered pornographic unless the model is of the same sex as the majority of the magazine's readership.
What kind of nude photo do you suppose would be considered legal on the cover of Life magazine?