MumsnetGuestBlogs (MNHQ) Thu 10-Oct-13 14:37:51

Should we Lose The Lads' Mags?

The Lose The Lads' Mags campaign is calling on the 'big four' supermarket chains to stop selling lads' mags in their stores. Kat Banyard, author of the Equality Illusion and founder of UK Feminista, explains why she thinks it's time for them to listen.

So - is it time to Lose The Lads' Mags? Tell us what you think on the thread below.

Kat Banyard

Lose the Lads' Mags campaign

Posted on: Thu 10-Oct-13 14:37:51

(103 comments )

Lead photo

Only the Co-op has stopped stocking lads' mags on their shelves

There’s been a deeply damaging screw-up at the headquarters of the ‘big four’ supermarkets – and it’s been dragging on for years. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons all have a policy of not selling pornographic or 'adult' magazines. And yet day after day, year upon year, these stores have been stocking their shelves with sexist porn mags like Nuts, Zoo, Loaded and Front.

Lawyers have told the retailers that selling them can violate equality legislation. Anti-violence organisations say they fuel attitudes underpinning violence against women. And yet, there they still are, lining the shelves. So just what’s going on when self-declared ‘family retailers’ are willing to breach their own rules and risk legal action in order to sell magazines known to fuel dangerous and misogynistic attitudes towards half the UK’s population?

That’s exactly what UK Feminista and Object tried to find out when we met representatives from one of these retail giants - Tesco - back in July. Tesco insisted they don’t stock magazines classified by the industry as pornographic, that Nuts and Zoo are ‘Men’s Lifestyle’ magazines. Customers writing to them on the issue were told much the same: “Please let me assure you that when selecting our magazine range, we always keep at the front of mind that we are a family retailer and that the product choice needs to be appropriate. We do not stock any publication that we deem would be not suitable to our customers, including any adult titles.”…and… “We do not stock any magazines classified by the industry as pornographic”. Interesting, because when we posted images from the current editions of Nuts and Zoo on Facebook, another corporate giant with a 'no porn' policy, they were removed. The social networking site issued a message stating the images "violated our Community Standards".

Even staunch lads’ mags defender Barry McIheney, CEO of the Professional Publishers Association, admits “these titles certainly contain adult imagery”. Barry should know. Back in the early 2000s, as CEO of EMAP Elan publishers, he was the man responsible for launching Zoo. We also commissioned legal advice on the pornographic nature of Nuts, Zoo, Loaded and Front from Hugh Southey, a leading QC at Matrix Chambers. His judgment: “..the images in the editions of Nuts, Zoo, Loaded and Front <here assessed> are plainly pornographic”. So why, then, are the ‘big four’ still actively choosing to stock the likes of Nuts and Zoo - in direct contravention of their own policies?

Why does all this matter so much? Because as the Government- commissioned Sexualisation of Young People Review reported in 2010, “lads' mags promote an idea of male sexuality as based on power and aggression, depicting women as sex objects".


Could it be that the supermarkets have been getting some duff advice on magazine classifications from the industry? We contacted publishers and trade bodies to find out. Turns out, the only part of the industry that classifies Nuts and Zoo as ‘Men’s Lifestyle’ rather than ‘adult’ or pornographic are Nuts and Zoo themselves. It is a self-assigned classification. It’s really not hard to fathom why these magazines would describe themselves as ‘Men’s Lifestyle’. What’s harder to understand is why supermarkets would swallow it.

It's even more perplexing when you consider these stores are risking legal action by stocking Nuts and Zoo. Years ago society decided it unacceptable to have 'girlie calendar'- style images on workplace walls because they can create a hostile and degrading environment for women. The ‘big four’ supermarkets would never allow the 'girlie calendar'- style covers of lads' mags on their office walls, so why do they have them on their supermarket shelves? It's a question that's prompted 18 leading lawyers to write to retailers warning them that exposing both staff and customers to lads' mags could constitute sexual harassment or sex discrimination under the Equality Act.

Why does all this matter so much? Because as the Government- commissioned Sexualisation of Young People Review reported in 2010, “lads’ mags promote an idea of male sexuality as based on power and aggression, depicting women as sex objects and including articles that feature strategies for manipulating women.” The American Psychological Association has concluded that viewing media that portrays women as sex objects leads people to become more accepting of sexual harassment, interpersonal violence and rape myths. In essence, lads' mags fuel attitudes underpinning violence against women.

Right now, we have a crisis of violence against women in this country. Rape Crisis report that 85,000 women are raped every single year in England and Wales alone, while one in three girls has been subjected to sexual abuse from a boyfriend. If we're serious about tackling this, we need to join the dots between sexist violence and the cultures and attitudes in daily life that give rise to it. A society in which the biggest 'family' retailers deem it so normal and acceptable to view women as dehumanised sex objects that they choose to line their shelves with magazines dedicated to it is a society in which women and girls can never be safe.

That's why Women's Aid, Imkaan and the End Violence Against Women coalition are among the organisations urging the ‘big four’ supermarkets to stop selling sexist lads? mags like Nuts and Zoo. They’re joined by 1.3 million member strong trade union, Unison, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, 18 top lawyers and thousands of customers. Together we're not asking for any new laws or regulations. Tesco, Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury's already have policies in place (and legal responsibilities) that mean harmful lads' mags like Nuts and Zoo should never have been added to their product order lists in the first place.

So far, only the Co-operative has taken significant action. As a result of lads' mags failing to meet the retailer’s new packaging demands, Nuts, Zoo and Front are no longer sold in the Co-operative's 4000 stores. It's now vital the ‘big four’ listen to the anti-violence organisations, shareholders, customers, lawyers, trade unionists and teachers all urging them to lose the lads' mags.

Do you think the 'big four' supermarket chains should stop selling lads' mags? Tell us what you think here on the thread.

By Kat Banyard

Twitter: @UK_Feminista

ulyssesjj Mon 28-Oct-13 07:55:47

Losing Lad's Mags for the sake of limiting exposure to kids is a good idea and should be done as soon as possible. This will not contribute much to resolving the issue of why there is a demand for these publications in the first place and there is no quick fix. A generation or two of better education, parenting and instilling sound values into our children and young adults has no substitute.

SagaciousOne Thu 24-Oct-13 19:43:06

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/sep/05/men-victims-domestic-violence

SagaciousOne Thu 24-Oct-13 19:42:30

I'd really like to address the fallacy of a domestic violence culture perpetrated by men as the inevitable consequence of things such as lads mags.

I'd like to draw peoples attention this article in the Guardian Newspaper which shows Home Office records showing that more than 40% of domestic violence victims are men being assaulted by wives and girlfriends. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2010/sep/05/men-victims-domestic-violence

Now when you think that's only recorded crime (how many men are likely to report they get slapped around by their wives girlfriends) you realise that in all likelihood men are at least as likely to be victims as women and it is a false point to make out that domestic violence is a male crime perpetrated on females.

Please I urge you to read.

emcwill74 Sun 20-Oct-13 10:39:58

Yet more evidence of the supposed news media demonstrating the most important thing about a woman is her physical appearance. So important it's front page news. Vile.

anon2013 Sat 19-Oct-13 22:18:45

The front cover of today's Sun has just upset me more than any "lads mag".

"Much Less Of Cambridge"
"Yummy Mummy Tummy"

As Kate Middleton shows off her washboard stomach.

I feel like shit now sad

emcwill74 Sat 19-Oct-13 17:26:56

I know what it means and it's just a lame excuse to turn sexual attraction into something sinister you prude ugly feminazi loons.

This comment was brought to you by AutoLibDancer (tm) - the time-saving device to automatically post the same old crap repeatedly without having to log in to do so.

<emcwill74 is off out to get pissed with people capable of interesting and intelligent discussion that doesn't centre around making stuff up like men forever being cat called and prude male drivers shouting at women in shorts to cover up>

BuffytheAppleBobber Sat 19-Oct-13 14:50:24

Eh ooop. It's not objectification, it's just natural sexual attraction, yeah? thlhmm

Did you read that paper I linked for you lib? The one that explained what the theory of objectification actually, y'know, means?

emcwill74 Sat 19-Oct-13 10:08:10

PS As to your 'certain so-called feminists': you are a man, you do not get to define what is and isn't feminism, simple as that. Especially when you have no interest in feminism because your chief occupations in life are porn and strip clubs.

emcwill74 Sat 19-Oct-13 10:03:07

Because I saw the bloke's face FFS! Jeez! Of course women get more unwanted sexual attention than men! Read the @EverydaySexism thread and open your eyes to what the world is really like for women. You are so seriously in denial in desperation to drum up arguments. It's pointless trying to have any discussion.

No objectification is not just a perception, but again, this is just a total waste of time.

libertarianj Sat 19-Oct-13 04:55:36

nah that wasn't the point i was making. I was just demonstrating that gender is irrelevant when it comes to debunking objectification. It's all down to common sense and logic. I think on the face of it, objectification may initially seem like a reasonable argument and that's why certain so called feminist use it so much on here. However when you step back and really think about what it is, it's just an assumed thought, or someone's perception. (unless it's the example you gave above where individual body parts are featured without any face.)

And you are now trying to tell me that men get as much beeping at and told to 'cheer up love!' and unwanted (and sometimes sexually violent) comments from female strangers on the street! Oh come off it! You are becoming a parody of yourself now!

how do you know they don't? Isn't it true that men are more likely to be victims of violent crime? Also how do you know that when you get beeped it equals the person fancying you? How do you know it's not some puritan or religious moralist who's beeping because they think you should cover up and don't agree with that level of flesh being on display in public?
......mmm a bit like someone who calls for things like modesty bags or for the banning of lads mags in supermarkets.....thlwink

emcwill74 Fri 18-Oct-13 13:39:28

For each of those videos I can point you in the direction of a man I know who wholeheartedly agrees that the media sexually objectifies women. I don't need to YT objectification! Just because some people make videos trying to pretend it doesn't exist, it changes nothing. As I've said to you before, I could probably post a list as long as my arm of YT videos by creationists telling us their young earth theory. Does that mean the earth is therefore young?

And you are now trying to tell me that men get as much beeping at and told to 'cheer up love!' and unwanted (and sometimes sexually violent) comments from female strangers on the street! Oh come off it! You are becoming a parody of yourself now!

libertarianj Fri 18-Oct-13 12:58:36

why do you always try and make this a man vs women issue? You only have to youtube objectification and guess what the most popular videos are?....................................WOMEN debunking objectification. Please check out these:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6f5kdGp9p8
www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkUhW41Qpjg
www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-N9daqANcw

At one point one of those titles (can't remember which now) actually invited women to send photos of themselves topless in and showed them as just floating tits with the heads cut off so male readers could mark them out of 10! If that isn't objectification - a women reduced to absolutely nothing more than her boobs - I don't know what is!

well fair point, but why not complain about the offending article, instead of calling for a total ban? These magazines have already toned down the covers at the request of Tescos so they are obviously willing to compromise.

Also you are pretty blinkered if you think being wolf whistled, beeped, oggled, groped etc are things only women experience. Maybe it's just different where you live? confused

emcwill74 Thu 17-Oct-13 10:29:47

To finish my post I didn't have time for earlier: Yes, lib, they are being objectified by the media. Media their platform indeed! Right - so what happened in the 70s was that a group of glamour models went to petition the Sun to be allowed to get their tits out in it to express their sexuality and empower them. And the men at the paper said 'well I'm not sure, we are a NEWSpaper, but OK, in the spirit of women's emancipation, yes we will let you'. Or was it that a group of men in a board meeting said, 'you know what would sell more copies? Tits!' and they got some models in. And similarly, a group of glamour models got together, presumably, and found a publisher and said, we'd love it if you set up some magazines that used photos of us semi-naked, and lo, Nuts and Zoo were born! You know this is nonsense! At one point one of those titles (can't remember which now) actually invited women to send photos of themselves topless in and showed them as just floating tits with the heads cut off so male readers could mark them out of 10! If that isn't objectification - a women reduced to absolutely nothing more than her boobs - I don't know what is! So yes it is a special case that they are semi-naked, it is the whole point of why they are there!

As I say I do not for one minute think the models lesser individuals. Do I think modelling a 'worthy achievement'? I'm not sure what the relevance of this question is, except that you want me to say 'they're a load of brainless bimbos and I'm better than them' - but I don't think that! I think modelling takes skill as well as being of a particular appearance, and couldn't do it myself. But I don't know that it is any more or less 'worthy' then any other job, like working in advertising, which I did at one time. Is that a 'worthy achievement'? Not really. It was a job. It wasn't teaching or nursing or curing cancer. Do I think glamour modelling a worthy achievement? No, I suppose I don't. I think it profits the model whilst being detrimental to women as a whole. Doesn't mean I think glamour models 'lesser individuals' than me in any way whatsoever.

I'm not saying 'men can't be trusted', but you only have to read the @EverydaySexism feed on Twitter to see what the experience is of women collectively in a society where these magazines and page 3 encourage men to see women as things to have sex with, things to pretty up their day. There is no way you can understand this experience because you are not a woman and you don't actually give a shit about women. All your supposed anti-censorship views amount to nothing more than keeping the porn, lads mags, tits and strip clubs available for you to look at naked women to get your hard-on. I suspect the majority of women in this country have been at some point or other subjected to unwanted attention of some kind: beeping/leering from men in cars/being shouted at with a sexual comment/told to cheer up love/groped whatever. There is a whole spectrum and most of us have experienced it, and at the risk of you telling me off for making 'massive assumptions' I suspect the majority of women don't want it. I was out with my kids recently and was wearing shorts as it was hot, and some bloke beeped at me. Why do that?! What does he expect me to do? Leave the kids and drive after him shouting 'yeah! Let's get it on right here right now! I am, after all just something for you to shag!' So don't come on here telling women about men's experience of viewing these images, because we have enough experience of where it all leads of our own thanks!

SinisterSal Thu 17-Oct-13 10:15:58

How tiresome

But a little gigglesome that he chose what he clearly imagines is a noble sort of name, as though his motivations are on a higher, more principled, plane grin

emcwill74 Thu 17-Oct-13 07:57:29

At no point have I ever made out the models are lesser individuals and I have said before that is not what I believe.

Yes Annie he is a man, lib is the PBP Daddancer.

Or more correctly, am I right in my assumption that you are a man? Because you seem to have no idea what it's like to be a woman in this society of objectification and constant sexism.

Can I assume you are a man?

libertarianj - you have very little understanding of feminism.

libertarianj Wed 16-Oct-13 23:07:28

AnnieLobeseder until peeps on here can start respecting other women's choices to do the careers they want to, be that a nuclear physicist, or a page 3 model for example then i fail to see how they can define themselves as feminists. It's really just a group of people who think they know better, telling another group of people how to live their lives. Nothing more to it than that really.

libertarianj Wed 16-Oct-13 22:57:58

wrong Emcwill74 the models represent themselves, not the media. The media is just their platform. They are not being objectified by the media, their images are being sold by the media in the same way as any other images of people are sold. It's no special case just because they are semi naked. Whether women walk around topless in everyday life or not is irrelevant too. Who says that lads mags are there to portray real life? It's a bit of harmless escapism/ fantasy at the end of the day. And even if they were just presented as 'topless models' that still doesn't make them objects, or lesser individuals as you try and make out. Do you not think their modelling is a worthy achievement?

You are also effectively implying that men only have one dimensional thoughts and can't be trusted, so these kind of images must be censored for their own good. Nice!

Before you get started, anon2013, feminists are against objectification of men too. So, no, feminists are out there getting their panties in a twist about lad's mags and them coming home and getting their jollies to the Diet Coke ads. It's a common misconception that feminists don't care about inequality or sexism when men are the victims.

Feminism cares more for men's rights than men's rights activists do. And then we get roundly criticised for being man-haters with double standards. It's very tiresome.

anon2013 Wed 16-Oct-13 14:52:43

The lads mags will vanish soon enough. Things far worse are readily available and free just a mouse click away.

I was reminded of this thread last night when a "diet coke break" came on.

emcwill74 Wed 16-Oct-13 14:08:01

It is not only rad fems who talk about objectification, and if, lib, you think it is then you do not actually understand what radical feminism is. However, as a clue, what it is not is just 'anyone who wants to take your boobies away', and neither is it 'anyone who feels the commodification of the female body to sell media is A Bad Thing because of the repercussions this has for all women'.

Furthermore, as has been explained to you many times now, and each time you ignore it, it is obviously not as simple as objectification is really just physical attraction. The fact is that the media vehicle has objectified the models in the first place by presenting a woman with no top on (which, like it or not, and I have no doubt you don't, is not how women walk around in daily life) in a contextless image, purely for the sexual gratification of men, in a publication where this is what women are for (and, in the case of the Sun, what men are not for - they, by glaring contrast, wear clothes and do newsworthy stuff). You personally may feel sexually attracted to the woman in the picture and say it is natural for you to do so, but the objectification started before you saw it or felt that. The objectification started when a magazine was created to supply women for you to get a hard-on to and then sold in a supermarket as though it's no different to a bag of apples, despite the fact that supermarket claims not to sell porn.

I am not a rad fem, and I don't say that in any way to diss rad feminism, just that it is not how I identify and don't believe radical feminists would identify me as part of that movement either. I am not trying to fit anything to an agenda because what would be the point? There is enough sexism plainly apparent that I don't need to go creating it in order to call myself a feminist. I would rather live in a society where all sexist crap was long gone so feminism was an entirely irrelevant concept.

SinisterSal Wed 16-Oct-13 13:23:00

I knew you'd be along with that silly nonsense Lib so I clarified it in that post you selectively quoted - Lust is not the same thing. There it is again.

libertarianj Wed 16-Oct-13 13:08:29

It's weird to say ohhh sexual objectificaton is fine, it's the other types of objectification that aren't. Surely it's all connected and all pretty shit and I don't know why you'd defend one strand while dumping an all the rest. It's inconsistent.

That's because in most cases when rad feminists term something as 'sexual objectification,' in reality it is really just perfectly natural physical attraction.
It's a lame attempt on their behalf to re-badge it to make it sound shallow and bad, so that it fits their agenda.

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