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Helen Gurley Brown

Naughty Innovators | Naughty Guide

Helen Gurley Brown


If you don't know who Helen Gurley Brown is then you are not a true Naughty Girl.

Helen Gurley Brown is perhaps the biggest sex icon of the 20th century.

She rose out of poverty to become editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine and wrote the book "Sex and the Single Girl," changing forever how women viewed themselves and sex.

Long before there was Carrie Bradshaw and Sex in the City, there was Helen Gurley Brown.

Born into poverty in the Ozark Mountains instilled a fire in Gurley Brown to get out and not look back. Later in her life she wrote about the fears and aspirations of American working class women and how they were often ignored by society.

In 1962, at the age of 40, her book "Sex and the Single Girl" was published sending shock waves through the country.

Not only did Gurley Brown say that sex was great but that women should have as much of it as possible.

She wanted women to be able to make their own choices in life and the idea that as she said, "if you were female, and not married by the age of 30 you might as well go to the Grand Canyon and throw yourself in" was ridiculous.

In the early 1960's single women were looked at with pity and suspicion.

Helen Gurley Brown sought to change all that by showing women how to give themselves permission to live the single life and not apologize for it.

"Sex and the Single Girl" sold over two million copies in three weeks and were sold in 35 countries.

It made the best seller list of The Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.

Helen Gurley Brown wanted women to know they could make it on their merits and not have to sleep their way to the top.

In fact she said, "You can't sleep your way to the top or even the middle and there is no such thing as a free lunch.

You have to do it yourself so you might as well get started."

Yet at the same time she recognized that sex was power and women held the keys to both.

Naughty Innovators | Naughty Guide

In "Sex and the Single Girl," Helen Gurley Brown talked about the importance of women knowing about and managing their own finances as well as the freedom to have sex in or out of a marital relationship.

While the book had chapters on how and where to meet men, preparing for an affair, the advantages to being single, how to be sexy and more, editors censored out chapters on contraception and other more controversial topics of the day.

Publishers even insisted on a title change as the original title was supposed to be "Sex For the Single Girl."

They thought it advocated sex for single girls.

The first edition had written endorsements from Joan Crawford and Gypsy Rose Lee on the cover and Gurley Brown was often prohibited from saying the word "sex" in her television appearances promoting the book.

As a follow up to "Sex and the Single Girl," Helen Gurley Brown become editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine in 1965 and took it from declining sales to the top of the publishing world.

Gurley Brown made Cosmopolitan a must for every woman, single or not.

The magazine became known for direct articles about sexuality and while geared for younger women, women of all ages read and continue to read Cosmopolitan today.

Editing this magazine was an opportunity for Gurley Brown to continue to give her message to women that a man should complement her life, not take it over and that sex without shame was liberating and every woman's right.

Helen Gurley Brown claimed that women could have it all; sex, love and money.

She was the first women to say this publicly and although her views of women and sex often clashed with more aggressive feminists of the day, she gave women everywhere the permission and validation they needed to have guilt free sex, make choices about their lives and not give into the status quo.

At 90 years old Helen Gurley Brown is still going strong.

She is the international editor for all international versions of Cosmopolitan and is still advocating on behalf of women, sex for pleasure and free choice.

She is truly an original great sexual thinker.



Learn more about JosepHelen Gurley Brown with these books:

• Bad Girls Go Everywhere: The Life of Helen Gurley Brown, the Woman Behind Cosmopolitan Magazine


• Sex and The Single Girl

• Having It All: Love, Success, Sex, Money Even If You're Starting With Nothing

• I'm Wild Again: Snippets from My Life and a Few Brazen Thoughts



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