'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 169.

    Tv shows like Geordie shore and The Valleys do more damage than any other "lad mag" could do. I find "weight loss" magazines disgusting. Should they be banned too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    118. Tell me, which is more damaging to society - a naked woman or violent sex?

    What two (or more) adults do in private, consensually, is up to them. Comparing that with an image on a magazine viewable by all is not valid in the slightest.

    Nothing wrong with nudity... But I'd be happier if my children weren't exposed to "Nuts", etc. until they are old enough to reach it...

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    155. stevenhe33
    Agree that nudity isn't the best way to sell sofas, but disagree with your one-sided view that it is only naked women that are used to sell commodities - have you never seen a certain coffee brand's ad where a man is running around wearing next to nothing and then demurely waits naked for the arrival of his partner?

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    140. Mel Gibson Fan - Co-Ops decision has nothing to do with child abuse, more to do with censorship. We have had a week where Mr Cameron wants to intrude in peoples homes and filter what they search for (regardless of if they have kids or not) and is trying to push for a snooping charter to help prevent "Terrorism". Child abuse and sexual violence have gone on long before lads mags or pornography

  • Comment number 165.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    I find Nuts, Zoo etc. demeaning to men and women, but it has little to do with half naked people on the cover, just the fact they only pander to the baser instincts like that's all men have to strive for. Nobody wins with lad culture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    It's not just about the images though is it? It's about the 'attitude' towards women, the portrayal of women and the purpose of the images in those mags. I just don't believe the supermarket shelf is the right place for them and no, I'm not a feminist or fanatic, I just don't believe it's a good place to have them on view due to the whole ethos of those types of mags - it's about respect I think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    If people think pretty girls wearing bikinis is pornographic I think we have a problem, turning the clock back 50 years. They'll be advocating wearing Burka's next! You see more "bikinis" on womens mags where they are obsessed with slimming etc, or tabloid newspapers, or even just down the beach/swimming pool! I'm all for protecting children, but this seems to be an over-reaction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

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

    Are these images of people having sex? As they are not then they are not pornographic images. They may be overtly sexual but that is not the same thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    I never used to give these magazines a 2nd thought but now that they choose to 'cover them up', it is like the forbidden fruit. It draws my attention to them. If they are put on a top shelf, out of children's reach, I don't see what the problem is. But once you cover them up, there is always the temptation to find out what's underneathe.Isn't this what they do in Saudi Arabia?

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    Alot of personalities are going to be disappointed by this decision, but then again, how many of the quoted number of stores actually sell magazines? None that I know of, and how many people, having read this article, are thinking about their local co-op? How very correct.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Has my imagination gone all 'Freudian' or are there quite a few mags with semi-naked men on the front?

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    I guess we better ban that Diet Coke advert with the half naked man on it too then...! Get real feminists, you bunch of anti fun fanatics!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Perhaps the Co-Op should stock them in the same cupboards they use for cigarettes. And while they're at it, wine and spirits (promotes alcoholism), burgers, lard, and dripping (to prevent obesity) and toys (mustn't have kids pestering their parents for the latest moshi monster)

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    I watched a tv advert yesterday for sofa's. Basically a beautiful lady walked past lots of sofa's while slowly slipping off items of clothing. When she found her sofa she finally removed the last piece of clothing. What has this got to do with selling sofa's? If it was a man who was slowly stripping then I think there would be uproar from the males in society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Everything is becoming so controlled in the uk, im glad im not living there anymore!

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Anything that helps counter the objectification of either sex and the over-sexualisation of minors is to be welcomed. However, it's just the tip of the iceberg regarding media attitudes towards/portrayals of men and women in general and 'celebrities' in particular - that's a more thorny problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    This isn't porn - of any sort at all - and a complete over reaction by zealous feminists.

    If these mags are to be covered up then the likes of OK, Chat etc with their much more un-feminist and damaging 'get you bikini body in 2 weeks' and 'try the new super diet so you can look like a star' headlines should also be covered up for the good of all women.

    Put your energies to better use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    At a time when we are being encouraged to ditch the carrier bags, publishers are being pushed to put every lad magazine in its own bag. Yeah, makes sense that.

  • Comment number 150.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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