'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 989.

    This is getting ridiculous. I understand covering up actual porn.
    But these magazines are already censored. It's not exactly full frontal nudity. Whats next no bikinis at a public swimmming pool or on the beach. What about all the womans magazines that have topless men on the front? There seems to be no mention of that. The UK is going backwards when it comes to censorship.

  • rate this

    Comment number 988.

    Anger and jokes aside. Does anybody remember the teenage girls magazine MORE? It had regular posters of half dressed men, an article called sexual position of the week among other things. We also have HEAT, which is hardly discreet about its imagery of both men and women - yet - a single image on the cover of NUTS or ZOO - and it is just the cover we are discussing - is the problem? get a grip.

  • rate this

    Comment number 987.

    The groups (UK Femenista et al) that promote this approach don't do themselves any favours by taking their views to the extreme.

    Sex/porn is fine - agreed we shouldn't have it easily accessible for those under 16/18 but for pity's sake we are the same as all other species - we live to procreate, and that means sex, nudity and whatever else tickles your fancy.

    Grow up and stop acting the victim/s

  • Comment number 986.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 985.

    Then just don't stock them if you feel that strongly. Also how are they any different from Anne Summers posters, plus i'm pretty sure there was hardcore filth in 50 shades and that was advertised everywhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 984.

    At this rate we won't be able to go down to the beaches either. So many half naked bodies. Maybe start handing out life size opaque screens for beach goers instead of towels!

  • rate this

    Comment number 983.

    Let's hope that the young children exposed to the covers of Vogue, Cosmo etc. understand Kat Banyard's argument that those covers are "ok" because they are not intended to sexually gratify their readers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 982.

    Who cares-I've got a big enough stash already!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 981.

    @949 - if that's true, it's the funniest porn anecdote I've ever heard!

    I don't see why people are getting in such a flap about this. The choice to buy the mags and look at more tits than you can shake a stick at (so to speak) is still there. This would just give the rest of us the choice to NOT have it shoved in our faces. Opposing the move restricts freedom of choice, not supporting it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 980.

    Here's how statistics works:

    "95% of peadophiles clean their teeth on a daily basis"

    Here's how an idiot interprets these statistics:

    "Toothpaste causes paedophilia. We must ban toothpaste"

  • rate this

    Comment number 979.

    So yesterday we had someone arrested for upsetting a feminist on Twitter. The day before that we had Maniacal bleating about how great it is to have a woman on a tenner. And today the non explicit, inoffensive lads mags are being covered up.

    As with everything in America, it makes its way to the UK, and feminism in America the last year has been utterly hysterical.

    It's Coming!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 978.

    We can't hide everything from our children. Our job is to answer their questions and hope they grow up to be rounded and grounded individuals, with a healthy respect for everyone around them. If I've done my job right they will, as adults, understand perfectly what 'objectification' means, but also that scantily clad bodies aren't evil personified. Education, not scare tactics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 977.

    Why stop at "Lads Mags", what about OK magazine, womans world etc, these may be just as "offensive" to the "lads".
    Do these people want us to have a state regimented society with little/no freedom of choice such as China or Russia.
    Why do we let the minority dictacte what the majority can or cant do?

  • Comment number 976.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 975.

    If the co-op doesn't want to stock them then so be it, that is their right and privalage in a free democracy. Should the Co-op be able to dictate how a product is packaged - no, that's dictatorship. These magazines must stand by what they want to do, what market they want to attract and should not bow to crazy feminist pressures. Let the Co-op make their choice, let the public do the same

  • rate this

    Comment number 974.

    I remember seeing a press photo of a much younger Theresa May wearing a T-shirt with "This is what a feminist looks like" printed on it.
    I still don't know what message she was trying to put across.

  • rate this

    Comment number 973.

    I think a lot of people have missed the point. It's not about protecting our modesty, or avoiding people being offended. It's about protecting all women from objectification.

  • rate this

    Comment number 972.

    Do the fun-police that agree with this make any acknowledgement that womens mags show just as much flesh as the lads variety?

    Male objectification of women is pretty much a basic instinct

    Whereas the biking clad paparazzi shots / bikini body / too fat / too skinny etc etc that covers the Womens Mags is as bad, if not worse!

  • rate this

    Comment number 971.

    I never pay attention to the packaging when shopping for groceries and such, but I only buy a magazine based on the front cover and a flick through to see if I will get value for money. I can see this saving me £4 a week!
    But I can't see a problem with these lad's mags. At the age of 10, I always read while my mother was shopping and I'm fine 20 years on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 970.

    Steveknowsitall A lot of women on beaches in the UK and abroad should wear full length clothes as the sight of some of them semi naked is certainly not appealing unless you are a freindly water buffaloe!


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