My company made me look at porn

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One of the perks, if you can call it that, of working at the world’s largest media company is that we get copies of our magazines for free. I began to see this as more of a curse when I realized I was drowning in my weekly accumulation of Fortune Small Business, Coastal Living, Time for Kids and People en Espanol. And I don’t speak Spanish. I had become a free-magazine whore.

So I didn’t really mind when the company decided to crack down on these distributions, citing the staggering costs of offering their loyal and hard-working minions a couple hundred issues of their titles without charge. The only major annoyance is getting a hold of my own magazine. I’m not kidding. It’s a real challenge to score more than our allowance of one copy, which makes it tough to send comp issues to sources who’d given us hours of their time for the honor of one quote in one article. I usually have to go steal them from the lobby bins, which are zealously guarded by specially trained, free-magazine-whore fighters.

And then there’s the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Thumbnail image for 08_cheerleaders-group_01.jpg
NFL cheerleaders in my inbox. / SI

SISI belongs to a category unto itself. According to our corporate web site,

The Sports Illustrated annual Swimsuit Edition franchise, which includes the magazine, video, calendars and website, is the most profitable of any single magazine-branded franchise.

The issues are considered so valuable that they’re not even distributed in the bins downstairs; they’re doled out, copy by copy, to each employee, like glossy, perfect-bound bonuses.

So when I came in this morning, what do I find under my door but a beautifully laid out publication of porn.

Who decided I wanted to look at 100-some pages of barely dressed girls with abs made of slate and boobs that defy reason? SI boasts that women cherish the swimsuit issue because it offers us fashion ideas for the bathing season. Seriously? I’m going to don this bikini made of dental floss this summer after I’ve just popped out Baby #2?

Look. I’m no prude. And it’s not the same thing as working in an office whose walls are plastered with pin-ups, like the women workers at Halliburton/KBR had to endure. Still, I’d rather be offered the option of picking up a copy, rather than have it stuffed under my door like some urgent memo. What I want when I step into my office is a cup of tea. Not NFL cheerleaders in thongs.