'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 1009.

    In the co-op I work in, the lad mags are behind other magazines at the top, all you can see is the top of them which is the title only..
    No ones ever complained about them, Do I care they're there? no. The front covers have any body part censored out anyway. Once again the co-op making silly decisions trying to look like the heroes.

    Ps Stop playing a winter song in summer co-op.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1008.

    I would prefer the Co-Op had spent a bit more time and care looking after the money I invested in their bank instead of this PC claptrap

  • rate this

    Comment number 1007.

    "the place for these is not next to the sweets at children's eye-level."

    I suggest if your child can see the top shelf at eye level he's old enough to buy one of these mags if he chooses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1006.

    954. magicmugs

    Nicely cliché ridden rant, just missed out the Nazis

  • rate this

    Comment number 1005.

    This is beyond the point of ridiculous. When do we start hiding pizzas, bacon or junk food because it promotes obesity? Are you going to then hide all the alcohol shelves because they promote alcoholism?

    Also, when will you have a word with shops like Primark and New Look that sell clothing for young girls that leave them in a similar state of undress as celebrities in a lads mag?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1004.

    I'm guessing it's a female making this decision at the CO-OP and it's "that" time of month also.
    Because having once been a young lad myself, i can say for certain that covers of lads mags on shelves weren't the source of our entertainment and this was before the internet!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1003.

    951. Bumble "the ... view I would expect from somebody who watches too much loose women"

    I don't watch that sort of trash. It is too pathetic for words.

    "u should ... get over ur hatred of men and take ur own advice ..."

    I am not sure which words u and ur are meant to be but you are obviously confused. What makes you think I hate men? I love at least two. Oh, is it because I disagree with you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1002.

    Anyone remember the 2 ronnies sketch about women taking over , I remember seeing it and im 45 . So far feminists cant dictate what i do in my own house.

    Feminists would be quite happy if all the single white anglo saxon hetro men are left unemployed and postiviely descriminated against , so they are and their partners can get all the jobs,

  • rate this

    Comment number 1001.

    Will the Co-op also be covering up the fronts of Magazines like Heat, Closer and Womans own that show pictures of Celebs in their Bikini's for their beach bodies articles.

    Also how many of the exploitation crowd regularly buy bargain clothes made in sweat shops by slave labour without batting an eyelid. Double standards all round in this country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1000.

    Why does the campaign only cover lads mags? Surely that is discriminatory.

  • rate this

    Comment number 999.

    I see 2 different matters attaching themselves to each other like a Barnacle to a rock.
    Co-op's reasoning is a sound one in my opinion, some of the images children should not see as they can be revealing and certain parents don't want to expose their children to those at an early stage.
    Feminism point of view the girls are old enough to decide what they do, stop dictating others choices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 998.

    How about getting rid of the "Celebrity" comics at the tills of stupormarkets and replacing those with something more interesting?

  • rate this

    Comment number 997.

    will the same be done for mags like Flex, Musclemag and Mens Health?

  • rate this

    Comment number 996.

    What a nonsense! Lard doesn't cause harm to people's perception of women. there are two different issues here.
    Women are not militants because they don't want there young children to see half naked photos of women. The magazines are not on the beach they're on the supermarket shelves.
    Over 5000 lads have abused young girls in the last couple of years or am I making a false connection? Probably.

  • rate this

    Comment number 995.

    973. Amy D
    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.
    Aren't both sexes objects?

  • rate this

    Comment number 994.

    Feminists trying to turn the UK Islamist for the sake of the kiddy-winkles.
    Because - as we know - Islam is such a bastion of female empowerment.

    What a bunch of sick-minded opportunists!

  • rate this

    Comment number 993.

    What a load of tosh. These mags are no more harmful than watching a Carry On film, you don't even have to look far to see pics of semi-clad fellas.

    Ridiculous woman.

  • rate this

    Comment number 992.

    921. Amy D
    Do you want your daughters to grow up thinking getting their kit off in public is something to aspire to? Do you want your sons to believe that women are only useful as sex objects?"

    Everyone knows that lads' mags don't present normal behaviour. X-factor, pop videos, teen girl mags all present highly sexual behaviour as normal. THOSE are what you should be worrying about

  • rate this

    Comment number 991.

    The actual content of lads mags has been shown to be indistinguishable from the self-justifying opinions of jailed rapists. If they actually "reflect the diverse interests of the nation's young men", that's an awful indictment of men. But it's clearly rubbish. The reality is more like: lad's mags reflect the patriarchal culture's ideas of what young men OUGHT to be interested in. Lose them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 990.

    Its sickening to see lot of negative comments for the care taken by co-operative for the society. I guess all negative comments are from males who are not yet a parent or don't want to become a parent. As I already quoted "You can have the freedom of waving hand while walking only as long as it is not hitting others". Your freedom is respected only as long as its not affecting others.


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