'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
    +5

    Comment number 189.

    Masiive over reaction driven by the Sisterhood. I don't bother with these mags. However, look at the Women's mags, gossip mags etc. Imagery is very similar. Where do you draw thw line???

    OK, stop women wearing bikinis on the beach, bikini tops in public places in hot weather, wearing next to nothing on a night out in the city???

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 188.

    Forget lads mags, how about all the mags ladies read, OK, Hello, etc, etc, that constantly mock female celebs for their cellulite or inability to lose weight quickly after a baby..... Women are worse than men for portraying this desperate need for women to constantly look great or be mocked endlessly. What message does this send to kids?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 187.

    if they are so offended then why sell them?

    also are they going to cover up the star and sun? these aren't even on the top shelf!!!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 186.

    In reply to the usual 'what about naked men'; men are not measured solely on their appearance to the extent that women are. John Inverdale on Marion Bartoli for example. An ugly man completely at ease insulting women for not meeting lad's mag standards. The protest is that women are treated as commodities, and before you say it, we live in a society that encourages women to buy into this too..

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 185.

    So magazines need to cover their images up?

    What about all the kids who have TV's in their rooms at home and could easily be watching the more "adult" Freeview channels that are on during the night without their parents knowing. I think one of the stations shows up on the same screen as BBC News and BBC Parliament on my TV!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 184.

    I think we should be careful not to let these feminist extremists in via the "child protection" door. I am all for acting against the over-sexualisation of everyday life by lascivious marketers, I think children should have a proper childhood, but this message will be lost when the feminists push too far and triggers a public knee-jerk reaction to their more ludicrous demands.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 183.

    Aren't we supposed to live in a world of equality, as a guy I can work in the garden or walk on the beach without my shirt on, why should guys be paying to see topless woman any way. The guys as usual are being exploited, by the opposite sex.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 182.

    This is the world going mad!! Pick up a copy of a womans mag and it's slathered in stories of rape, murder and paedo's.
    These idiots will be making us all wear burka's at the beach and banning the word penis. When will it all end???

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 181.

    "If it was a man who was slowly stripping then I think there would be uproar from the males in society"

    No. Nobody would have mentioned it. Male nudity - or the objectification of males- isn't a political issue because men haven't been turned into over-sensitive neurotics by relentless, biased pressure groups telling them they are eternal victims

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 180.

    You know Feminists are scraping the bottom of the barrel when they're trying to ban magazines that your girlfriend happily buys you.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 179.

    Hope it's going to apply to a lot of Womens magazines as well that also have scantily glad females on the cover as well, but I don't expect it will as it's one rule for us and another for us as far as the feminists are concerned

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 178.

    what's next? a ban on bikini's on our beaches?
    Covering up nudity I can understand, but I fail to see how a seeing woman in a bikini is 'harmful' to anyone. These magazines mentioned aren't pornographic.

  • rate this
    -21

    Comment number 177.

    I saw many people mourning about British Culture is dying by these laws. Do you mean exposing the women as a pleasure material is British culture? See your ancestors. Working hard and Innovation is British culture, which younger generation almost forgotten now. All present younger generation know is Party,Girls,Drink,Drugs and Benefits and they say that as their culture, God save British.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 176.

    @88 - I never said anything about a correlation - just that making certain ways of thinking the norm is likely to impact how people behave. Think back to the casual racism of the '70s... you could argue that using racist words doesn't make you more likely to attack a black person, but that's not the issue. Normalising negative attitudes in society makes it more likely that lines will be crossed.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 175.

    I'm sick of the sight of scantily clad men on the covers of gay magazines, how is this never an issue?

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 174.

    What about the covers of various womens magazines - many have young models well under 18. I am sure the PC brigade could stretch their definition of kiddy porn to include this.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 173.

    Another piece of censorship as our civil rights and rights of free speech are slowly being whittled away. One day we will regret all this but by then to speak out will also have been made a criminal offence.

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 172.

    " But then the German attitude to nudity is far more healthy than the British attitude ever will be."

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. The German attitude to censorship in everything is extremely unhealthy compared to the British.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 171.

    Welcome to New Puritan Britain!

    At least in the old days puritanism was driven by an identifiable group of people that you could oppose and argue with. Nowadays these campaigns are driven by a hypocritical media trying to outdo each other by being more 'morally outraged' over petty, non-issues than their rivals, leading to a dangerous culture of censorship where opposition is cast 'child abuse'.

  • Comment number 170.

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

 

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