'Lads' mags' given cover-up deadline by Co-operative

Lads' mags in a Co-op store The Co-op has already introduced its own measures to obscure lads' magazine covers

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The Co-operative has given so-called 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 its 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 by the Co-op.

An industry body said the titles showed the "diverse interests of young men".

The Co-op, which is owned and run by its more than seven million members, introduced opaque screens for lads' magazines on some shelves earlier this month.

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.

Start Quote

The so-called 'modesty bags' they are demanding are designed to allow the Co-operative to continue profiting from sexist, harmful lads' mags - but just a bit more discreetly”

End Quote Sophie Bennett Lose the Lads' Mags

"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."

Cathryn Higgs, a policy manager at the Co-op, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the group was currently "in dialogue" with the magazine publishers.

"I've got every hope they will take what we believe is the responsible approach and put them in a bag," she said.

She added that the Co-op believed it was the first retailer in the UK to take this step but other supermarkets were probably having "similar conversations with their customers".

The Daily Sport newspaper has already agreed to comply with the Co-operative's new policy.

'Like wallpaper'

Women and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson said the Co-op's move was "very welcome".

"Many parents aren't comfortable with the way sexualised imagery has become like wallpaper - everywhere from the bus stop to the corner shop," she said.

"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 campaign group Lose the Lads' Mags said the Co-op was not going far enough.

Spokeswoman Sophie Bennett said: "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."

Fellow campaigner Kat Banyard added: "Lads' mags are deeply harmful.

Glamour model Natalie Rochford, and Kat Banyard, who represents the Lose the Lads' Mags Campaign

"By portraying women as dehumanised sex objects, they send out the message that it's normal and acceptable to treat women this way, and we know from extensive evidence that lads' mags like Nuts and Zoo fuel sexist attitudes; attitudes that underpin violence against women."

The campaign group said it had also been targeting Tesco, with one female shareholder raising the subject during the retailer's recent annual general meeting.

The Professional Publishers Association, which represents some magazine publishers, said: "Men's lifestyle magazines are mainstream titles enjoyed by a readership of millions and feature content to reflect the diverse interests of the nation's young men.

"Publishers support the guidelines on the appropriate display of men's lifestyle magazines, which have been drawn up with the National Federation of Retail Newsagents and endorsed by the Home Office."

A former editor of Front magazine, Piers Hernu, said the Co-op's decision was "very dangerous" and amounted to "censorship".

The firm had "caved in" to a "vociferous campaign from some fanatical feminists", showing itself to be "weak-willed and spineless", he argued on BBC Radio 5 live.

Gender equality groups UK Feminista and Object joined forces with lawyers to launch the Lose the Lads' Mags campaign earlier this year.

They warned that retailers could face legal action if they continued to display the magazines or require staff to handle them.

This, they said, could amount to sexual harassment or discrimination in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

The British Retail Consortium has said its members do not sell anything illegal and have long followed industry rules.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    It's only the ugly one's that complain......

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Nanny State is alive and well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    I agree with this - the objectifiction of women in magazines like these is archaic, offensive & has no place in a supermarket. It is is to misunderstand the detail of the objection to accuse the Co-op of 'talibanisation' etc., and simply dumb to even suggest that women are empowered by appearing near naked in lads' magazines. We are all diminished by this juvenile prescription of our sexuality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    @70. ResCyn "We can't even have redtops on our desks due to the covers. Yet women could freely read Fifty Shades in the canteen and other public places" - totally and utterly missing the point! Choosing to read WORDS privately is not the same as having IMAGES shoved in your face publicly with no choice at all. And I am male, by the way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Another dark day for Onanists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    Can we please grow up on this subject? There is nothing wrong with the naked body, as long as it's tastefully done!
    It's like the issue of calendars with scantily-clad ladies in offices some years ago. I worked in an all-female section and someone in HR wanted to know the men's reaction to a calendar with scantily-clad men on it. They were up in arms about it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    I can't believe that we live in a society where children are led to believe that women have breasts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    "Regardless of your stance on equality or feminist opinions, this really is great for protecting children from pornographic images."

    Don't talk such rot. It's not going to "protect" anyone. Teenage boys want to see naked women and they will find a way, just like they always have. And are the likes of Cosmo going to have to cover up their front covers too? Or is this just another feminist crusade?

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    will this include newspapers?

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    This country, in its early sexualisation of kids, is collectively guilty of child abuse. This country is well know for the poor mental health of its children. Most people here seem unwilling to confront this issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    I commend this decision, may the others follow suit. Porn should not be on view to children alongside their comics nor on page 3 of a national newspaper. Choices, cover it up, stick it on the top shelf, better still stop objectifying and demeaning women ban this tosh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    This is the same sort of lunatic thinking that came up with the idea of removing cigarettes from display. Nobody, adult or child, ever walked into a shop and thought 'that packet looks nice, I think i'll start smoking' and no child will think the same looking at a woman on a magazine either. What about these adverts of topless men etc? Is that encouraging young girls? The compaign itself is sexist

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    These 'mags' are more belittling to the men that buy them than the women on the covers, making it clear that there is nothing between their ears but sex. Surely a magazine for men should have men on the front (mostly) just as a womans magazine has a woman on the front (mostly). If the covers need covering up then they don't really need a cover at all do they!!!?

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Newsflash single males 18-30 sexualise "hot women"

    yes not a good place to sell at young kids eye line covers or topshelf obvious solution

    yes can lead to objectifying women but so does all the female targeted material. I find the covers of OK! really offensive both in terms of images and taste.

    i don't call women's own porn or harmful

    censorship by the indignant activist is never good

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    The key issues here are- exploitation (Ethical) and public health (Social).
    On Public Health -are we really saying that reducing women to objects of desire is a healthy, adult mode of perception that is in our best interests to encourage?
    On exploitation -pornography is big business. All industries use lobbying and PR to manipulate the environment within which they operate to their own benefit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    I am more offended by the women's magazines which usually feature women in similar states of undress but with comments solely about how they are too fat/too thin/too whatever, that is way more damaging to young women.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    The coop should realise they are behaving like extremist dictators (the like we last encountered in WWII) and let the public decide what they want.
    Just who the h##l do they think they are!
    I will be making a conscious choice not to shop there in the future, and put a clues in my will to make sure my remains will be on a more tolerant companies slab!

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Let us dumb down BBC news and topic of the day Lads Mags

    What about comments for the new charges for industrial tribunals.

    Unfair dismissal not a real issue for comment!

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    It's interesting to read some of the philistine’s comments on here. Suggesting children will somehow become sex-crazed maniacs at one sighting of a semi naked woman.

    I assume none of these people have gone on holiday anywhere warm? And can I assume all Britons will be banned from travelling to European beaches; some of those sex addicts sunbath topless you know!

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    more religious views imposed by the backdoor


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