Last fall the October 2005 issue of Seventeen was pulled from the shelves of 2500 Albertsons stores across 12 states. The complaint centered around an educational health article written by Jennifer Howze entitled Vagina 101. According to Associated Press articles on the magazine story it "shows a drawing of a woman's genitalia with arrows pointing out the clitoris, the labia majora, the labia minora, the hymen and the anus. It provides a one-paragraph description of each part of the anatomy, under the headline "Owner's Manual." On the second page, the author addresses what's normal and what's not â€” from the color and consistency of female discharge to how to detect a urinary tract infection."
Seems like dangerous stuff, at least in a country with more puritanical hang-ups than the ocean has drops of water. Especially apropos of the thinking is the father who told the AP, "If that's supposed to be educational, that should be in school, not a magazine." Likely the very same health education class so many on the dangerously conservative side of public health arguments have been fighting to keep out of schools.
There is no mention of Albertson's pulling Maxim or Stuff or any of the dozens of magazines with photographs of women in bikinis draped over cars. These same magazines have at least several photos a month of women wearing a lot less than a bikini. Perhaps the puritan fight has given up on these hedonistic titles and feels it would be a loosing battle to attempt to change society. Likewise there is no mention of protests causing Albertsons to stop selling condoms.
Have no doubt about it, Albertsons is completely within their rights to not sell any magazine they choose not to sell. Freedom of speech is not at issue in whether a business chooses to sell any product, including magazines, books or bleach. However, it is also true that we the consumers have the right to choose stores that will not selectively remove magazines that have serious, well thought out, appropriate discussions of health issues.
I for one will be voting with my feet, finding a different store at which to offer up the monthly grocery budget.