'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 809.

    Study after study links the sexist portrayal of women promoted by lads' mags with ..violence against women."
    Any half-baked statistician could link eating brunch with violence against women to push an agenda.

    Don't confuse correlation with causality. There are just as many studies that show there is no causal link between lads mags and violence towards women

  • rate this

    Comment number 808.


    Interesting name chosen by the organisation.

    "End Violence Against Women"

    Any reason why it wasn't

    "End Violence Against Anyone" or even "End Violence"?

    Is violence against men OK? Around 30% of domestic violence murder victims are men. Is that less of concern than the women who are victims?

  • rate this

    Comment number 807.

    717. d-canmore
    "This is from ultra-fem campaigner Kat Banyard's own website ... "Kat featured in Glamour Magazine's The Glamour Power List 2011". Go straight to Glamour magazine's webpage now and you get 'The Top Sexiest Men of 2013', stunning hypocrisy!"


    Well spotted! Here's the link:


  • rate this

    Comment number 806.

    I have to say that I'm neither for or against lads mags ....and as for what the Co-op does or doesn't do I really dont give a (err well you know what!).

    Looks like another 'triumph' for journalism at the BBC and the HYS team

  • rate this

    Comment number 805.

    Until this is applied towards women's publications that treat other women like objects, and men for that matter, then this will rightly be seen as yet another case of feminist bullies who only want the laws in effect when it suits their agenda and don't care whether they look like complete hypocrites.

  • rate this

    Comment number 804.

    You, or your puritan comrades, have no right to come in between the voluntary transactions of consenting adults.

    If you're unhappy with a mag, don't buy it - and educate your own children likewise.

    If you're unhappy with a store selling such mags, don't shop there - and educate your own children likewise.

    Mags are not "violence against women".

  • rate this

    Comment number 803.

    I am more than happy to get me kit off for a gal mag....trouble is sales would plummet.

  • rate this

    Comment number 802.

    This is really not an feminist or religious issue. This is a society issue. Criminals of age below 16 is increasing. Number of female children below 16 becoming pregnant is increasing. Family values disintegrating. You may ask whether modest cover will stop these, well at least it may stop 1 in 1000 children from getting distracted towards sex when they actually have to learn and play.

  • rate this

    Comment number 801.

    Have any of you younger males out there met some of the 40+ yr old COUGAR women who are just as bad (IF NOT WORSE!) than most teenager boys I have ever met!

    The irony is women love gossip, sex, sex tips (apparently) and fleshy male pics BUT THAT IS OKAY FOLKS

    But if your a red blooded male and enjoy aesthetics of a woman your
    A Pervert.
    A Rapist
    Against equality
    (list goes on)


  • rate this

    Comment number 800.

    Just looking down the "lowest rated" and I can't believe the po-faced comments I've read. They'll be calling for an Islamic state next.

    These women must surely, following the logic, also be in favour of the niqab and burqa: I think not!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 799.

    @788 moaning-mart

    "The world has gone mad." No apparently the world has gone NUTS ;)

  • Comment number 798.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 797.

    786. SallyPlanetZog
    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."


    And not a single study linked that proves a direct correllation between "lads mags" and violence against women.

  • rate this

    Comment number 796.

    @781 It's even worse, when I worked in the Middle East I remember buying a copy of Newsweek that had a photo of the Statue of David and they had run a black marker of the statues genitals

  • rate this

    Comment number 795.

    We had feminists call into the shop I worked at trying to bag those mags. They just walked in and started yelling how degrading it was, no previous contact with management, just came in and made a scene. The next day we read the letter they left for the bosses, it was barely coherent and simply vulgar.
    They wouldn't dare touch The Sun or any other News International product.
    Puffed up cowards!

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    If UK Feminista put their effots into raising the awareness of honour killings, arranged marriages and female oppression in the UK, they might get a little more sympathy.

    Untill then they will continue to be viewed as hypocritical, meddling puritans and will receive the appropriate amount of understanding and support.

    Wake up and fight the real fight, not lad mags and page 3

  • rate this

    Comment number 793.

    Feminism was a movement intended to deliver EQUAL rights. Neither sex should surpass or usurp the other. Groups like "Feminista" have nothing, nothing to do with genuine equality. Their agenda is far more insidious. And who are you funded by "Feminista"? I intend to put in a Freedom of Information request to find out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 792.

    If Ann Summers catered specifically to men, the shops would be in back alleys.

    Ladies. Almost all men know the difference between a model posing, and woman they meet in everyday life. The rest are pond life.

    If you want to address sexism directly, start with simple, obvious things. "Womans' Hour"; "Loose Women".

    How about trading in lad mags for all those disgusting plastic surgery programs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    Is it true.....could britain really be stumbling back into the stone age?

  • rate this

    Comment number 790.


    I notice positively rated posts have started to be removed, do the feminists think people have the 'wrong' opinion? Have these people failed to understand the feminist 'double-speak' correctly?



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