A nutter's campaign against lads mags has won the support of an influential group of MSPs.
MSP Gil Paterson this week lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament congratulating the efforts of Margaret Forbes who launched a one-woman campaign demanding men's mags such as Loaded and Nuts be tucked away on top shelves.
She argues the magazines' front covers are in the same league as soft porn, and objects to them being displayed in lower shelves alongside more family-friendly lifestyle magazines in sight of children.
Now she has won support from politicians from the three main parties in the Scottish Parliament after they heard supermarket chain Morrison's has chosen to stock the magazines more discreetly.
Paterson, vice convener of a parliamentary group on violence against women and children, has also written to justice secretary Kenny McAskill over the issue.
The motion has been backed by 16 MSPs. As well as congratulating Margaret, it argued that Parliament should support her campaign to encourage other supermarket chains and vendors to follow the example set by Morrisons.
Paterson said: It's the general attitude towards porn, and the fact children are exposed to it and the normalisation of it that I'm concerned about.
Ms Forbes said: I'm very much encouraged because I feel like I've been doing it on my own. I've been feeling very isolated and a lot of times I get doors slammed in my face when I go round with my petition. But there is still more to go, because we
need to get other supermarkets to do the same.
In a keynote speech Michael Gove, the shadow schools secretary, condemns the so-called "lads magazines" for encouraging men to view women as mere sex objects.
Our strategies for dealing with teenage pregnancy need to be focused more on young men and their responsibilities, he will say.
That's why I believe we need to ask tough questions about the instant-hit hedonism celebrated by the modern men's magazines targeted at younger males.
Titles such as Nuts and Zoo paint a picture of women as permanently, lasciviously, uncomplicatedly available.
We should ask those who make profits out of revelling in, or encouraging, selfish irresponsibility among young men what they think they're doing.
The relationship between these titles and their readers is a relationship in which the rest of us have an interest.
The images they use and project reinforce a very narrow conception of beauty and a shallow approach towards women. They celebrate thrill-seeking and instant gratification without ever allowing any thought of responsibility towards others, or
commitment, to intrude.
The contrast with the work done by women's magazines, and their publishers, to address their readers in a mature and responsible fashion, is striking.
Comment from Dan
Yeah fatherlessness and relationship breakdown is caused by young men reading lads mags. What a brainwave!
I laughed when I read Michael Gove's comments, blaming lad mags for all society's ills. I've written for a few lad mags in the past – Zoo, Maxim, Arena, GQ (though I would call the last two style magazines). That doesn't mean I am now going to try
and make a case for their moral fibre, because frankly they've got about as much moral fibre as asbestos. But that's precisely their point. So telling lad mags that they're doing something wrong actually means they are doing something right. The day the
editor of a lad mag gets a letter of congratulation from a Conservative MP will be the same day he gets another letter. From his boss. With a P45 in it.
This rebuke from Gove will be worn as a badge of honour – the equivalent of the cool kid in class getting a ticking off from teacher. And the mags to which he has given free publicity will respond with a contemptuous snigger. You can bet those
editors will today be standing behind their respective art directors' chairs, clapping with delight at the digital manipulation in Photoshop of Mr Gove's visage, which will doubtless appear as a vulgar retort in next week's issue. A joke which
approximately 1% of the readership will get, because they've probably never even heard of this Gove bloke. But whatever, right, it's a picture, yeah, of a geezer with his head up his own arse, right, and that's like well funny, innit.
Gove is crediting these magazines with too much power and influence. Zoo and Nuts do not dictate culture; they reflect it. That's why they sell so well and that's why they exist. Blaming two magazines for everything from "teenage pregnancy" to
"selfish irresponsibility" is exactly the kind of lazy generalisation I would expect from absolutely all soggy-biscuit-eating Tories. The same lazy generalisation they rouse from its slumber every time a kid stabs someone, having apparently
learned precisely how to do it while playing Grand Theft Auto: Chav City or watching So You Think You Can Dance.
Anti-porn campaigner Margaret Forbes is urging fellow nutters to boycott supermarkets displaying lads' mags.
The one-woman crusader has already persuaded supermarket giants Morrisons to put men's magazines on the top shelves out of sight of children.
She is now calling on Tesco and Somerfield to follow and place men's mags like Nuts, Zoo, FHM and Loaded on shelves which are out of reach and sight of children.
She claimed: Magazines like these are just pornography and extremely degrading to women. I tried on a number of occasions to have them put on the top shelf where they belong but they didn't do it. But when I last spoke to the Express and said I hoped
fellow Buddies would join me in boycotting this supermarket they listened. I would encourage people to do the same at other supermarkets such as Tesco and Somerfield who have failed to listen.
Forbes who is a member of the Scottish Women Against Pornography group said: The woman who pose in these magazines have a responsibility for their own actions. But I am not saying they shouldn't do what they do. Nor am I saying these shops should
not be selling them or people should not be allowed to buy them. But these magazines should not be on sale on the lower shelves where children can see them. Children should be protected from sexually explicit material.
These magazines send out a bad message to young boys. There is a definite link between soft porn and attacks on women.
A spokeswoman for Somerfield said: It is important to stress these are titles that have high readership levels of both men and women, are not classed as pornographic and are not subject to legal age restrictions. We are sensitive to the feelings of
many who are not comfortable with the depiction of women.
A spokesman for Tesco's said: These Lads' mags are positioned towards the top tier of our magazine racks. We keep a close eye on our customers' views. But we are not receiving many complaints over this.
The Top Shelf Report, commissioned by Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas, will next week recommend that popular men's magazines and
newspapers such as the Daily Sport be given age-appropriate "16" and "18" certificates.
A nationwide investigation has revealed that newsagents across the UK are flouting current guidelines and displaying what are, in effect, adult magazines at the eye-level of children aged six to 15 which has led to a government proposal that they be
subject to the same age classifications as films, with some titles off-limits to under-18s.
The display of lads' mags is currently governed by a voluntary code of practice drawn up by the Periodical Publishers Associations (PPA) and the Home Office, which recommends that retailers display them well above children's eye level and away from
children's titles or comics.
The report, which has cross-party support from MPs, points out that films screened or sold in the UK are classified by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and that TV broadcasters must adhere to a 9pm watershed that prevents programmes
unsuitable for under-18s being shown before this, yet nothing similar exists for the mainstream press.
Ben Todd, the editor of Zoo, said: We should be treated like a cheeky seaside postcard. In our case, the most revealing aspect is topless pictures, which is no more than you see in The Sun or the Daily Star. So, if any sort of age-restrictions are
going to be introduced, I'd expect them to include those papers, too.
The report recommends that the Daily Sport be given an "18" certificate due to the numerous adverts for prostitutes which it contains.
The Front Page Campaign based in Fife calls for newspapers and magazines which show nudity to be placed on the top shelf.
Amy King started the campaign after writing to a number of supermarkets when she saw naked photographs on the front of newspapers displayed next to children's magazines.
She told The Press: We are just looking for a bit of respect in a public place. Some people might not accept it's harmful but they need to respect a person's right to decide whether it is what many of us consider offensive.
The campaign focuses on freedom of choice for those who would rather go shopping without being bombarded with sexually provocative images, and promises that it is not about censorship or feminism.
King continued: We are taking action because we believe that pornography is harmful to men and women, and I personally have particular concern about the effect of, for example, The Sport on teenage boys. It's sometimes assumed that men have no problem
with sexually explicit pictures of women, but we think there are men who are uncomfortable with it.
Commenting on the issue, an Asda spokesman said as a family orientated supermarket they ensure all magazines that may be offensive are placed in a suitable area and level.
A spokesman from Tesco said: We know these magazines are popular with some customers and are widely available in newsagents and other retailers. We're aware, however, that some people have concerns and this is why we have moved this type of
publication beyond the eyeline of children and making it more difficult for youngsters to pick them up.
12 activist objects and a photographer descended upon the two WH Smiths in London's Liverpool Street station on Friday to celebrate the third national Feminist Friday by covering the entire lads' mags displays with paper bags and slogans objecting
to the sexist portrayal of women as objects.
Object said: The reception we received from customers in the two shops was really supportive, with one woman telling us that seeing younger women actively engaged in feminist activism and not passively accepting the sexist
messages we see all around us had 'made her day'; a group of 14 year old girls really keen to discuss the impact of lads' mags on how girls and women are viewed and treated and wanting to get involved; and many other women and men signing our
petition against lads' mags being sold as part of the mainstream media.
It was good fun and empowering - a great opportunity to take a stand against the pornification of culture and to say - women are human, stop treating us like objects!
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is to dismiss calls to restrict the display of so-called lads' mags on newsagent shelves.
Scottish Women Against Pornography said the publications featured sexually graphic images and should be screen sleeved away from children's eyes. The nutters said some tabloid newspapers should be treated the same.
MacAskill will tell MSPs the National Federation of Retail Newsagents had drawn up a voluntary code of practice and that ministers are unaware of any evidence that a large numbers of newsagents ignore it.
The Scottish Parliament's petitions committee is considering calls from Scottish Women Against Pornography for ministers to introduce and enforce measures to ensure magazines and newspapers containing what it considers are sexually graphic images are
covered and not displayed at children's eye-level or beside children's publications.
Scottish ministers said the display of obscene or indecent material, such as pornographic magazines, was already restricted by law and argued restrictions over lesser material did not clearly justify government intervention, which would cost extra cash
Nutter MPs have demanded tighter rules on how so-called lads mags' are displayed in shops. The front pages of sexually explicit titles such as Loaded , Nuts and Zoo should be concealed by plastic bags and placed on the
top shelf of newsagents, they said. They also suggested cinema-style age ratings should be put on the front cover.
The cross-party group of MPs called for urgent action to supposedly protect children and young people from the magazines and downmarket tabloids such as the Daily Sport . And they said if publishers and retailers failed to act, the Government
should introduce tough laws.
The display of lads' mags is governed by a voluntary code of practice drawn up by the Home Office, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents and the Periodical Publishers Association. This recommends retailers display them well above children's eye
level and away from children's titles or comics.
Labour MP Lindsay Roy and ten of his colleagues - including former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe and ex-not-so-Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell - believe the rules are being flouted.
Roy, who represents Glenrothes in Scotland, has tabled a Commons motion to put pressure on ministers to act. He said a review of the guidelines must consider the availability of sexually graphic publications to children and young people, the
positioning of them on the shelves of retailers, the potential for concealing them in bags and consider the question of age-rating them . His motion said young people were not emotionally equipped to deal with seeing, and reading about, sexual
Sir Menzies said his natural inclination was against censorship ...BUT... it is unacceptable such material could be displayed at the eye level of a six-year-old: The photographs and headlines on the front cover are pretty lurid.
The present code does not seem to be working and so it needs to be tightened up considerably.
Outside a branch of Tesco in central London, 30 people in pyjamas, nightgowns and fluffy slippers have gathered to campaign against lads' mags. All are members of the activist group Object and they are here to take part in the monthly Porn Versus Pyjamas
campaign. They dart down the dairy aisle to the display of lads' magazines, which they mark with their own slogans. FHM is put in a paper bag emblazoned with: For Horrible Misogynists , while Maxim is hidden behind the phrase MAXIMum Sexism
The women start a conga-line through the supermarket, chanting Hey, ho, sexist mags have got to go , alerting security guards to their presence. Eventually they're ushered out, but not before depositing pamphlets, entitled Porn v Pyjamas: Why
Lads' Mags Are Harmful, in customers' baskets.
Their campaign began earlier this year, after Tesco ruled that customers wouldn't be allowed to shop in pyjamas because this could make other people feel uncomfortable. Object bit back by accusing some Tesco stores of ignoring the voluntary codes of
conduct that suggest lads' mags should be covered up and repositioned on the top shelf, alongside pornographic content.
The Tesco demonstration is part of its Feminist Fridays campaign monthly events where activists protest against lads' mags and other forms of sexism. After being ejected from Tesco, the demonstrators spend three hours outside the store, distributing
Lads' mags are an example of the mainstreaming of pornography, says Anna van Heeswijk of Object. The whole tone is of complete contempt [for women]. They are made up of photographs that come straight from pornography and would have been thought
of as hardcore 50 years ago. But now the boundaries have been pushed to such an extent that they are considered an appropriate part of lads' mags and soft porn.
Australian Labor MP Graham Perrett has called for a ban on offensive billboard advertising, saying it's time to reclaim public spaces and protect common decency.
The man once cheekily dubbed the Member for Porn after penning racy scenes in his debut novel, The Twelfth Fish, said he planned to lobby Attorney-General Robert McClelland about whether advertising laws can be tightened and would support a
Parliamentary inquiry into the issue.
The Member for Moreton said the billboard, for an erectile dysfunction treatment, was on a busy road and likely to be seen by children: I've been called the 'Member for Porn', so I'm not a prude ...BUT... I find it troublesome and I think we do
need to take a closer look at it .
We have lots of weeks here, we have Liver Week, Mental Health Week, I think we need to have a 'Back to Middle-Class Values Week' where we reclaim public spaces, he said. He also noted the offending billboard was close to a nondescript brothel that was less offensive to the eye than the advertisement and unlikely to upset any parents on school runs.
Perrett also suggested an advertising watershed for billboards. He said electronic advertising meant it was possible to promote adult content after 8.30pm and ensure more family friendly themes were present during school hours.
Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, the Co-op group and BP petrol stations have agreed to put the magazines behind plain covers or on the top shelf following nutter pressure.
But WHSmith said the measures went too far. The National Federation of Retail Newsagents has also refused, saying it is not in a position to tell independent corner shops how to operate.
The moves come after on going campaigning, most recently by Mumsnet, which found 'enormous' unease in a survey of mothers about the publications and their images of scantily-clad women.
But WHSmith said its existing restrictions were sufficient to protect children. We have a strict display policy in place that requires men's lifestyle magazine titles be displayed at minimum height of 1.2 metres, equivalent to the average adult
chest/shoulder height, a spokesman said.
The policy requires men's lifestyle magazines to be displayed away from children's or women's magazines, and away from other product ranges which children may be shopping for, e.g. toys and stationery.
Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet, which is running the Let Girls Be Girls campaign against the sexualisation of children through advertising, clothing and music, said the store's stance was frustrating . It's great that so many retailers are
supporting Mumsnet's campaign. But it's frustrating that WHSmith are arguing that shelf height of 1.2m, that of an eight-year-old child, is a sufficient barrier.
Asda has ordered compulsory modesty boards for the magazines and changed its policy so publishers can no longer pay to have magazines displayed at the front of stores. Tesco is rolling out nationwide a trial in which the titles are put at the back
of the top shelf.
A new Scottish Parliament report has criticised newsagents and other shops that place lad's mags for sale at a child's eye view.
Research commissioned by the Public Petitions Committee found that many shops were in breach of their own guidelines, which say that such titles should be not displayed at children's eye level or below, to ensure that they are not in the direct sight
and reach of children .
However, the report by George Street Research, found 59% of 'lads' mags' observed during the fieldwork displayed at a height of 1.5m or less are being displayed with no obvious attempt to hide the front covers.
Psychologists from Middlesex University and the University of Surrey claim that, far from being harmless or ironic fun, lads' mags could be legitimising hostile sexist attitudes.
The researchers claim that when presented with [out of context, carefully selected, and nebulous] descriptions of women taken from lads' mags, and comments about women made by convicted rapists, most people who took part in the study could not
distinguish the source of the quotes.
The research due to be published in the British Journal of Psychology also revealed that most men who took part in the study identified themselves more with the language expressed by the convicted rapists.
Psychologists presented men between the ages of 18 and 46 with a range of statements taken from magazines and from convicted rapists in the study, and gave the men different information about the source of the quotes. Men identified more with the
comments made by rapists more than the quotes made in lads' mags, but men identified more with quotes said to have been drawn from lads' mags more than those said to have been comments by convicted rapists.
The researchers also asked a separate group of women and men aged between 19 and 30 to rank the quotes on how derogatory they were, and to try to identify the source of the quotes. Men and women rated the quotes from lads' mags as somewhat more
derogatory, and could categorize the quotes by source little better than chance.
Dr Miranda Horvath and Dr Peter Hegarty argue that the findings are consistent with the possibility that lads' mags normalise hostile sexism, by making it seem more acceptable when its source is a popular magazine.
Horvath, lead researcher from Middlesex University, said: We were surprised that participants identified more with the rapists' quotes, and we are concerned that the legitimisation strategies that rapists deploy when they talk about women are more
familiar to these young men than we had anticipated.
Horvath, is concerned that lads' magazine editors are not working hard enough to moderate the content of their magazines: A lot of debate around the regulation of lads' mags has been to do with how they affect children but less has been said about the
influence they have on their intended audience of young men and the women with whom those men socialise.
These magazines support the legitimisation of sexist attitudes and behaviours and need to be more responsible about their portrayal of women, both in words and images. They give the appearance that sexism is acceptable and normal - when really it
should be rejected and challenged. Rapists try to justify their actions, suggesting that women lead men on, or want sex even when they say no, and there is clearly something wrong when people feel the sort of language used in a lads' mag could have come
from a convicted rapist.
Hegarty, of the University of Surrey's Psychology Department, added: There is a fundamental concern that the content of such magazines normalises the treatment of women as sexual objects. We are not killjoys or prudes who think that there should be no
sexual information and media for young people. But are teenage boys and young men best prepared for fulfilling love and sex when they normalise views about women that are disturbingly close to those mirrored in the language of sexual offenders? He
added that young men should be given credible sex education and not have to rely on lads' mags as a source of information as they grow up.
The Women's Networking Hub's Shelve It! scheme calls on newsagents, supermarkets and petrol stations to keep saucy magazines out of the view of children -- and asks the public to help complete an online porn rating map of Birmingham.
Shelve It! gives retailers ratings from five stars, which means no magazines are on view, to XXX, meaning they can be seen and reached by kids.
It covers not just lads' mags like FHM or Zoo, but also hardcore pornography.
Campaign co-ordinator Shahida Choudhry claims the magazines have a harmful effect.
Feminists are set to gather in Birmingham in a bid to stop shops from putting saucy magazines in the view of children.
Shelve It! is a drive calling on newsagents, supermarkets and petrol stations to position lads' magazines at least 1.75m off the floor. The campaign, by Birmingham-based Women's Networking Hub, includes a website rating retailers on how and if they sell
Campaign co-ordinator Shahida Choudhry claims the magazines have a harmful effect. She said she had become ashamed of Birmingham:
We only have to walk into our local store for a pint of milk to witness the dehumanization and sexualisation of girls and women -- in full view among the men's health and lifestyle magazine titles.
The enhanced, plucked, botoxed, tweezed, and altered images in lads' mags are selling superficial warped ideals of women and girls, invading and shaping how we view ourselves.
Now a one-day conference is set to be held on February 26, and will be attended by dozens of feminist nasties, including UK Feminista, Object and the Young Foundation.
The Lose the Lads' Mags campaign by UK Feminista and Object is calling on high-street retailers to immediately withdraw lads' mags and papers featuring pornographic front covers from their stores. Each one of these stores is a workplace.
Displaying these publications in workplaces, and/or requiring staff to handle them in the course of their jobs, may amount to sex discrimination and sexual harassment contrary to the Equality Act 2010. Similarly, exposing customers to these publications
in the process of displaying them is capable of giving rise to breaches of the Equality Act.
High-street retailers are exposing staff and, in some cases, customers to publications whose handling and display may breach equality legislation. Displaying lads' mags and pornographic papers in mainstream shops results in the involuntary
exposure of staff and, in some cases, customers to pornographic images.
Every mainstream retailer which stocks lads' mags is vulnerable to legal action by staff and, where those publications are visibly on display, by customers. There are, in particular, examples of staff successfully suing employers in respect of exposure
to pornographic material at work. Such exposure is actionable where it violates the dignity of individual employees or customers, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. We therefore call on such
retailers to urgently heed the call to Lose the Lads' Mags.
Aileen McColgan Matrix Chambers, Sarah Ricca Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, Anna Mazzola Bindmans, Mike Schwarz Bindmans, Harriet Wistrich Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Helen Mountfield Matrix Chambers, Elizabeth Prochaska Matrix Chambers, Tamsin
Allen Bindmans, Gwendolen Morgan Bindmans, Salima Budhani Bindmans, Nathalie Lieven QC Landmark Chambers
Are you offended by pornographic images on magazine and newspaper shelves in supermarkets and service stations? Have you spotted sexualised imagery you consider offensive on T-shirts or other goods on the high street? Does it make
you angry that you and perhaps your kids too are inadvertently exposed to this kind of material by retailers as they go out and about?
The Guardian would like you to help document the story by looking for specific examples that you come across. If you care about the issue and would like to get involved, help us report the story by sharing photos of any problematic
imagery you've seen in public.
Comment: Whipping up outrage over sexual imagery on the high street
The chairman of Tesco said Britain's biggest supermarket chain will consider taking lads' mags off its shelves, after
revealing that reading one had left him startled . Richard Broadbent said:
I bought one of these lads mags recently. I was startled at what I saw. But I think we should be thoughtful in our response. I don't immediately know what the answer should be. But I am willing to look at changes.
The chairman of the country's largest retailer was responding to a female shareholder at its annual meeting. She asked for the titles to be removed from stores because they were offensive to women.
The annual general meeting saw a small demonstration from organisations wanting to ban lads' mags. UK Feminsta and Object are coordinating the miserable campaign under the banner: Lose the Lad's Mags.
Tomorrow you are going to sit down and meet with Lose The Lads Mags who want you to stop selling lads magazines because they find them sexist, degrading and offensive.
The arguments they put forward as to why you should stop selling these magazines is that they objectify women and cause sexual harassment to female customers and to your staff who do not wish to see magazines which show women as sex objects .
They deny they are calling for lads mags to be banned but if you stop selling these magazines based on their objections you will be banning them.
The justifications for you banning these magazines is based on the argument that there are people who do not wish to see these magazines whilst they are doing their shopping and that your female staff members do not wish to have to handle these magazines
or sell them to customers.
Essentially what Lose The Lads Mags are saying is that because some customers do not like lads mags and do not wish to see them in your store other customers should be stopped from buying them.
And these magazines can be covered up and put on the top shelf so those customers who are offended by them do not have to see them. But what Lose The Lads Mags are calling for is for them to withdrawn from sale completely.
As for the arguments over staff not wishing to handle or sell lads mags to customers the question should be asked as to since when supermarket employees have ever had the right to veto what the customers of the store they work in should and should not be
allowed to purchase.
And if we are going to ban lads mags from supermarkets because some members of staff object to them what's to stop other staff members objecting to the sale of other products they find objectionable such as meat, alcohol, cigarettes or lottery ticket.
Maybe we should ban those things too?
The arguments that these magazines are harmful because they make men see women as nothing more than sex objects and therefore cause men to act sexually violently towards women are spurious at best. It suggests that men are brainless drones who mindlessly
lap up whatever they see and will be turned into crazed violent sex beasts by seeing pictures of women with little or no clothing on.
Lose The Lads Mags, Object and UK Feminista believe that the very sight of a woman's naked body on the front of a magazine causes men to turn into salivating sex monsters who will defile the first woman they come into contact with.
I urge you to seriously ask yourself whether the objections of a minority of self appointed moral puritans who masquerade as feminists should dictate what you sell and what your customers can and cannot purchase in your stores.
You seriously need to consider whether you are going to stand up for consumer choice or whether you are going to remove the choice of consumers based on the protests and objections of a group of puritans who represent very few people.
I am tweeting this message because I strongly disagree with UK Feminista's campaign to ban Nuts - and other popular men's magazines - from being on sale in supermarkets.
These magazines are entirely legal and bring entertainment and enjoyment to many thousands of men - and women - across the UK, and I see no reason why they should be banned to appease the views of a minority protest group.
This proposed move is a blatant act of censorship with UK Feminista seeking to ban something just because it doesn't happen to like it.
Magazines like Nuts feature a broad range of content, are stocked out of the reach of children, and are enjoyed by a large number of supermarket customers whose voices also deserve to be heard.
Therefore I am politely asking the members of UK Feminists to...
Zoo, Nuts and Front have agreed to self censor their front covers as demanded by Tesco. The supermarket has been lobbied by
anti-sex miserablists. The new censorship code will apply only to the magazines' covers.
Highly explicit front covers of lads' mags may be a thing of the past, Tesco said. Zoo, Nuts and Front have agreed to make their covers more modest , the retailer said, meaning no more nudity, with less salacious coverlines and a more
Latest Issue of Nuts
In addition to demanding toned-down covers, the store said Nuts, Zoo, Front and Bizarre would now be sold only to customers over 18, to reassure parents who do not want their children to be able to purchase these titles , and the magazines will be
displayed at the back of sales racks, where their covers will be obscured by other magazines.
Of course the censorship campaigners dismissed the move as a half-measure that doesn't address the harm of these publications .
Kat Banyard, founder of UK Feminista, one of two groups behind the Lose the Lad Mags campaign , said that lobbying to have the titles removed from shelves altogether would continue, because they are deeply harmful. They fuel sexist behaviours which
underpin violence against women.
Nuts, which is published by IPC Media, said it had introduced new covers ... which have a more conservative tone several weeks ago, adding: We are delighted with our readers' response and this week's issue is our biggest selling since February.
While previous issues have shown women fully topless with their nipples covered by headlines or their hands or hair, and promising the boobiest shoot ever or big-boobed brunettes , recent editions of Nuts feature models in less highly
sexualised poses, wearing slightly more modest lingerie.
The Co-operative store chain has given lads' mags six weeks to cover-up their front pages with sealed modesty bags or be taken off sale
in its stores.
The 4,000-outlet retailer said it was responding to 'concerns' by some members, customers and colleagues about images of scantily clad women on covers. Titles such as Front, Loaded, Nuts and Zoo have been given a deadline of 9 September to
act by the Co-op.
Steve Murrells, retail chief executive for the Co-operative Group, said:
As a community-based retailer, we have listened to the concerns of our customers and members, many of whom say they object to their children being able to see overt sexual images in our stores. 'Welcome move'
Whilst we have tried to mitigate the likelihood of young children seeing the images with a number of measures in store, the most effective way of doing this is for these magazines to be put in individual, sealed modesty bags. As an interim measure, we
have introduced our own opaque screens on shelf to reinforce our existing policy limiting the display of such material.
Women and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson said the Co-op's move was very welcome :
Many parents aren't comfortable with the way that sexualised imagery has become like wallpaper - everywhere from the bus stop to the corner shop. Adults should be left to make their own decisions about what legal sexual images they look at, but the
place for these is not next to the sweets at children's eye-level. I hope other retailers will follow the Co-operative's lead.
But of course the gender extremists of the Lose the Lads' Mags campaign said the Co-op was not going far enough and are calling for a complete ban:
The Co-operative are attempting to sell their customers short. The so-called 'modesty bags' they are demanding from publishers are designed to allow the Co-operative to continue profiting from sexist, harmful lads' mags - but just a bit more discreetly.
The publisher of Nuts men's magazine is refusing to place modesty bags over its magazines, and says it is willing to risk a drop in readership.
The miserable management of the Co-op supermarket had demanded the magazine be delivered in plastic bags that would conceal provocative images of women on the front cover. The chain threatened that it would stop stocking the magazine from 9 September if
that did not happen.
Nuts called it an astonishing ultimatum . Editor Dominic Smith told Newsbeat he had been shocked when he heard about it in the media. He said if Co-op now removed Nuts from its shelves, it would encourage its readers to shop elsewhere.
I think Co-op will be surprised that we're not putting it in the bag. I think they were probably hoping for a nice easy PR win. If we do sell a few less issues, then so be it.
The Co-op has re-iterated that it will ban Nuts and Zoo for not taking up the option of modesty bags:
Our position has not changed. If Nuts and Zoo, or any of the other publications, Loaded and Front, do not put their titles into modesty bags by the date we've given of September 9, we will no longer sell the magazines.
Kate Jones, the Co-operative's head of product development, admitted that the store would lose money over the move. Speaking on ITV's Daybreak, she said:
We will be losing money but we are responding to our customers' concerns.
These are the publications that our customers are telling us they're concerned about. We do everything we can to ensure they are out of sight of children shopping in our shops.
But sometimes during the trading day displays get disrupted. We think a modesty cover would be a fail-safe solution.
The supermarket chain Morrisons has called on rivals to adopt a collective stance over the controversy of how to display lads' mags on
shelves, arguing that consumers are supposedly confused by the different policies being adopted by the major players. A spokesman for Morrisons said:
Going it alone doesn't feel the right approach. It would be better to have an industry approach, as it could be confusing for customers.
Morrisons will talk with bodies such as the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the trade body for the UK retail industry , in the hope that it can encourage its rivals to come together on a collective stance.
Gender extremists from Object and UK Feminista organised a series of protests outside Tesco stores calling on them to ban lads' mags.
19 Tesco scores around the country saw small gatherings of protestors at Manchester, London, Portsmouth and Glasgow
The feminist groups claim that lads' mags:
Fuel sexist behaviours and attitudes underpinning violence against women. Tesco would never allow "girlie calendars" on their office walls. Why are they choosing to stock degrading, pornographic lads mags on their shelves?
Kat Banyard, the founder of UK Feminista, said:
As long as Tesco sells lads mags like Nuts and Zoo its claims of being a responsible corporate citizen are a farce.
The No More Page 3 campaign founder Lucy Holmes said:
Protests are a great way of engaging with the public about the issue.
But the groups seem to be largely failing to attract much in the way of engagement. For instance the Daily Mail, well known for getting onboard moralist bandwagons, itself publishes material just a little too close to lads' mags content for comfort, so
has been generally negative about the Feminsta campaign. Similarly the lads' mags material is also a little close to sexy celebrity material that is so widely enjoyed by the general public, so the campaigners don't seem to be attracting wide public
engagement with their cause.
The Co-op supermarket chains has announced that 4000 stores have now banned lads' mags as
Steve Murrells, the chief censor of retail for the Co-operative Group, claimed:
As a community-based retailer, we have listened to and acted upon the concerns of our customers and members, many of whom said they objected to their children being able to see overt sexual images in our stores.
We believe individual, sealed modesty bags are the most effective way of addressing these concerns, so we will no longer be stocking the titles that have failed to meet our request. This action will make our stores more attractive to families with young
children, by creating a more family-friendly shopping environment.
Lulu Le Vay used to physically balk at the sight of a lads' mag. But once she started working for one, she became a lot less sure that these publications were as degrading and harmful as she had always assumed.
University lecturers have backed plans to censor lads' magazines from Scottish universities.
Academics from the UCU Scotland union are demanding shops on campus are either banned from selling the publications or at least prevented from putting them on display.
The union's annual congress in Stirling heard that the sale of lads' magazines was part of a supposedly growing culture of sexism at Scottish universities that had to be tackled.
Janice Aitken, UCU Scotland's equalities spokeswhinger, said such:
We have to think about the impact it has on a female student entering a university shop to find magazines on sale that depict women as sex objects. It is equally important that male students are also aware that the university views these sort of
magazines as unacceptable.
Nuts, the weekly lad's mag that along with arch-rival Zoo shook up the men's magazine market a decade ago is to close.
IPC Media announced a 30-day consultation with the 25 staff who work on the Nuts magazine and Nuts.co.uk website about the closure. Paul Williams, managing director of IPC's Inspire division, said:
After 10 years at the top of its market, we have taken the difficult decision to propose the closure of Nuts and exit the young men's lifestyle sector.
Nuts launched in January 2004, and at the height of its popularity had an average weekly circulation of more than 300,000. By the end of 2013 this was down to 62,000 including digital subscriptions.
Covers were toned down in 2013 in response to genderist pressure and the Coop ended sales completely, but the magazine was already in decline, probably to do with vast amounts of porny treats available on the internet.
Lucy Pinder, a favourite of Nuts magazine, has helped bring the publication to a close by crying on the cover of its final issue.
Nuts launched in January 2004, with Nell McAndrew as its illustrious cover star. The final issue -- its 526th edition - went on sale yesterday.
The final editorial of Nuts suggested that readers should now support rival magazine, Zoo :
Our esteemed rival Zoo launched a week after us. It has been an interesting sparring partner over the last ten years, and we were actually quite fond of coming up against the old bastard. Dear reader, much as it pains us to say, may we suggest go and see
what they're up to, because they could use the sales!
Feminist comments on the final issue seem somewhat contradictory. Kate Maltby in the Telegraph celebrates that Nuts has withdrawn its rather public depiction of male lust and that the inevitable recourse to more private and more porny internet delights
is a good thing:
The relaunched cover of Loaded reveals a distinct lack of cover girls. A spokesman at Simian Publishing, which took over Loaded late last year said:
Yes --- we're going to be far more discerning and sophisticated from now on,
There's one woman in the issue, actress Olympia Valance. The spokesman explained:
She's beautiful but she's fully clothed and it's a Q&A. We're going for substance. We've hired the feminist writer Julie Burchill as a columnist. We're thinking of having a gay column too.
Loaded changed hands after sales figures declined. In 2011 its circulation was less than a 10th of the 350,000 a decade earlier. The spokesman continued:
When the magazine launched in 1994 it was very much of its time but it had got to the point where it was just lowering the tone. We're not going to have any more lewd content. Mostly the change in content has come from our readers saying we'd lost touch
Stuff magazine will also be moving away from traditional cover girl exteriors.
Stuff's editor-in-chief Will Findlater said:
Stuff was launched in 1996 at the peak of the lad mag era. The covers used to help our position on the newsstand but our research tells us this is no longer the case.
According to a press release from the moral campaigners of Child Eyes:
Minister for Crime Creation, Norman Baker MP (a not so Liberal Democrat), has confirmed that supermarkets who display magazines and newspapers with sexualized front covers at child height are not observing current legislation in relation to the
Indecent Displays Act 1981.
Baker said in a letter to Child Eyes founders:
Child Eyes' concerns about publications with inappropriate or indecent images or text are fully understood and I believe the problem lies with the retailers, not the publishers.
I am grateful to the work of Child Eyes and I am particularly struck by the difficulties and resistance parents have been experiencing when seeking the cooperation of supermarkets who are often not observing current legislation.
Minister Baker has written to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on Child Eyes' behalf and received a positive reply. David Cameron referred Minister Baker to the Bailey Review into the sexualisation of children, Letting Children Be Children
(commissioned in 2012), which made a series of recommendations that shops and supermarkets should ensure that magazines and newspapers with sexualised images on their covers are not in easy sight of children .
Minister Baker said that it is vital that a robust approach to promoting the self-regulation is in place and that the Indecent Displays Act is able to provide for sufficient protection on matters raised by Child Eyes.
Loaded, one of the titles synonymous with the mid-1990s lads' mag boom, is to close after 21 years.
The last issue of the monthly magazine, which launched in 1994, is the April edition which is on sale now. the publisher said in a statement:
As of the current April issue, published on March 26th, Loaded will cease to trade as a printed magazine. We would like to pay tribute to our customers, staff and especially our contributors and editorial team.
Loaded was once one of the the leading titles in a booming lads magazine sector, with sales of 350,000 in 2000. After declining sales, the publishers recently tried a sexed down version but that doesn't seem to have panned out.
FHM and Zoo are to close by the end of the year, marking the end of lads' mags in Britain
Publisher Bauer Media described the closures, which are still subject to a consultation on the future of 20 jobs across the two titles, as a suspension, but the plan is to close both the print and digital versions of the magazines by 2016.
The closures reflect an overall decline in magazine sales, generally attributed to porn being widely available for free on the internet. Both titles have seen steep declines from their heyday. FHM's circulation fell to less than 67,000 for the first six
months of this year, while Zoo was selling just over 24,000 copies per issue.
FHM has become the latest lads' mag to bow out after a history of 31 years of publishing.
The final issue of the magazine hit the shelves yesterday and features TV presenter Holly Willoughby. She first fronted the magazine in 2008. Willoughby poses in a black dress alongside the witty cover line: Ashes to Ashes, Bust to Bust .
Bauer Media, which owns FHM, said in November that it would be closing the magazine after dramatic losses in circulation.