'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 789.

    One group of people controlling the sexuality of another - surely that's what feminism used to be concerned about. But it seems if you swap the groups in question around that's OK. This isn't about protecting the children (the oldest and most manipulative argument in the book) its about power & control. works both ways

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    What a load of feminist twaddle. There are far worse 'threats' out there. I don't see how naked images can harm children either, it's just nature for goodness sake. What next? Chocolate bars in plain packaging because they make you fat? The world has gone mad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    Hard on the heels of Cameron's attack on the internet, we have to stop this slide back to 1950s censorship. The BBC is not providing balanced coverage - there is no compelling evidence that any form of entertainment does significant harm. We should celebrate male heterosexuality as a key aspect of equality and diversity, and vote against feminist / religious tyranny.

  • rate this

    Comment number 786.


    "Feminists with an agenda are the last people in the world to know how men think."


    The agenda has clearly bypassed you.

    "Study after study links the sexist portrayal of women promoted by lads' mags with the human rights scandal that is violence against women."


  • rate this

    Comment number 785.

    Welcome to the modern puritanical, Victorian era Britain. Maybe Women should cover up in burkas, after all the sight of an exposed female ankle might inflame lust in a sinful male. Prohibition style acts only make something more appealing. Really this is hypocrisy of the highest order and perversely it will end up being more damaging to women. Yet still the sheeple will fearfully support it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 784.

    Whilst I'm indifferent to this particular case, I believe that like the governments decision to filter pornography it sets a dangerous precedent for the screening of media. I don't buy the concerned customers excuse, if that's the case then where do you draw the line? You would need to screen just about everything, including TV. People need to get a grip and stop being offended on others behalf.

  • rate this

    Comment number 783.

    @ 752. Anglerfish
    What you are proposing is to show someone partaking in an illegal act, it is not illegal to show pictures of scantily clad women on magazine covers.

    How about the feminists actually go about this the right way and go and lobby the ladies concerned not to appear? Or is it easier to throw stones at the retailers...

  • rate this

    Comment number 782.

    I find this campaign deeply disturbing.the law already forbids the display on a magazine cover anything that a reasonable and sensible person might find offensive.so lads magazines are unlikely to offend such a reasonable and sensible person.if this is banned other similar covers on ,for example ,fitness magazines,could be banned.this campaign for censorship is as worrying as it is odious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    An interesting side note- I landed in Dubai briefly on the way to a holiday a few years ago & they sold UK lads mags in the airport. The only difference was that every pair of breasts (in every magazine!) had a line drawn over with a marker pen!
    I always wish I had bought one just because it was so funny!

    PS.I think that this campaign & porn filter are absolving parents of their responsibilities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    'Boycott the Co-operative'
    I thought their overpricing was doing a good job of driving ppl away.

  • rate this

    Comment number 779.

    Putting the magazines in opaque packets could increase CoOp's sales as the shops would not be used as libraries in which the lads could get an eyefull. Instead they will have to buy the magazines.

    Increased profits AND the moral high ground!

  • rate this

    Comment number 778.

    If this gets Celebrity X's boob job of the front of women's mags I'm all for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 777.

    If the Co-op wants to act in an ethical fashion, why does it sell cigarettes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 776.

    Why do people assume its the nude part that's objected to? It's the overtly sexual/sensual nature, not the amount of exposed skin. Porn and "lads mags" deliberately go for sexual imagery, obviously, but isn't it just as obvious that kids shouldn't be exposed to it? And yeah, I'd like to see that airbrushed, photoshopped bikini body gone on the women's mags too, for other reasons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 775.

    A bunch of feminists pushing for Saudi like restrictions on exposed human flesh. Oh the irony. When do you start your campaign against exposed ankle flesh?

  • rate this

    Comment number 774.

    If god had meant us to be naked, he would have given us a pouch to put our mobiles in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 773.

    Absolutely Bill, this is so small minded and where does it stop? No nude statues? No explicit medical images? No nude beaches? No Bikini's? and eventually...no rude words like... BUM!

  • rate this

    Comment number 772.

    given that nipples have to be covered on a magazine cover, can anyone tell me the difference between Nuts/Zoo etc. and all the women's mags, or your average female weather forecaster?

    All of them are presented in a way to mildly arouse and titillate

  • rate this

    Comment number 771.

    All a bit pointless; in a few years the only lads' mags that will be on sale will be "Babes in Burkas".

  • rate this

    Comment number 770.


    If you don't select "717.d-canmore " as an editors choice then the lot of you need firing. It perfectly demonstrates what is wrong with these people and their thinking process.


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