'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

Related Stories

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.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • Comment number 1669.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1668.

    Our local Co-op has already come up with a great way of preventing anyone reaching these (and other) publications. Simply block the aisle off with excessive stock.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1667.

    1643 kristal tips; What about keeping impressionable children away from far left cranks who would poison their minds with their ludicrous view on the world?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1666.

    You have to laugh.....

    ....the EAXCT SAME right whingers who normally complain most about business not responding to it's customers' demands are out in force rubbishing one of the few businesses to do EXACTLY what it's customers want....

    ....just shows how morally & intellectually bankrupt the far right is...!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1665.

    Well done Co-op!
    They took the lead from their customers and have, in my view, proposed a sensible solution. I do hope they stick to their principles on this.
    No-one is banning the mags or saying they are wrong just asking the publishers to respect the wishes of other who use the shop.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1664.

    We men have so much to apologise to women for: human history is story of men oppressing women. Yet ironically the worst aspect is that we have put them on a pedestal of physical perfection. Silky unblemished skin wraps gorgeous curves around a meets-all-your needs mother come sex slave. Lads mags are the symbol of this fantasy. In reality they are as smelly spotty and dirty as us men. Sorry girls.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1663.

    This mind set explains why all the bath room type store adverts feature ladies in swim suits ... I mean how many people have a bath or shower in a swim suit?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1662.

    from the video 'Portrays women as sex objects'. Women do exactly the same as men....where's the equality though in the number of underage teenage lads or their parents...or older men.... who get custody of their kids, free housing, child benefits etc. Men can be exploited and used just as much as women......and don't reap any 'rewards' for it...only condemnation!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1661.

    OK, what is this new wave of conservatism in our midst? Are we becoming Saudi Arabia or something?

    Last time I checked, there was a sexual revolution and people do happen to find the human body attractive. Supply and demand - no one forces anyone else to take their clothes off and be photographed!

  • Comment number 1660.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1659.

    “I actually think that the covers of "lads mags" are degrading to men. It's impossible to buy a light hearted magazine that doesn't have a naked woman on the front cover.”
    “This action is not about whether porn is good for a person or not, but where it is appropriate to display and sell it.” I agree with both. Good on the Co-op. Keep calm, it’s not about reducing product availability!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1658.

    Women who lobby for equality need to realise they can`t have their cake and eat it too. My wife and I have discussed this often and she is in total agreement. I am all for equal rights for women, but I think there's an element of looking at this through rose tinted spectacles and we're verging dangerously close to extremism. Remember the saying "What's sauce for the goose..."

  • rate this

    Comment number 1657.

    "An industry body said the titles showed the "diverse interests of young men"."

    In this case the diverse interests being one breast...then the other breast.

    Lately the covers have just been soft porn, with little room to claim artistic merit; not that there's anything wrong with that, but you wouldn't leave it uncovered in the middle of the supermarket.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1656.

    Feminism; A victim mentality that manifests itself in a range of different ways of thinking & talking:

    -Failing to take responsibility for one's own actions.

    -Ascribing non-existent negative intentions to other people.

    -Self-absorbed: unable to consider a situation from the point of view of others

    -Categorizing: tending to divide people into god & bad with no gray zone between them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1655.

    I am so tired of being told what I should be offended by! I am a 43 year old woman with 2 grown up children. I am not offended by seeing scantily clad women on the front of a magazine. Parents should be able to explain to their kids that it is OK and natural for adults to look at other naked adults! If you are going to be offended - dont look, but stop trying to force your views on everyone else!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1654.

    I think it's a good thing to censor the covers. Young teenage girls and boys are influenced by this imagery, it gives girls a complex about their body image and it gives boys an objective view on women. All they need to do is tame down the covers and seal the magazine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1653.

    Many women, including the feminists in question, believe that women and only women, have the right to control sex and men only have a right to sexual gratification if it is on a woman's terms and conditions. Women feel threatened by anything that provides men with other avenues to sexual fulfilment, such as lads mags, because they lessen the degree of sexual control women can exert over men.

  • Comment number 1652.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1651.

    1614. ferafestiva
    I probably should have been more careful with my words. Its perfectly healthy for women to have strong sex drives> What I meant was being in a relationship where one side is expecting the other to live up to an unrealistic ideal and is treating the other as a piece of meat is not healthy. I'm talking about having respect for the person you are having sex with.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1650.

    Is it just me, or is the move of a failing company, using the the incoming Web Censorship law to get their name in the media. Don't get me wrong, I'm not totally against them covering up certain images that kids might be able to see... But there are all the girly magazines (closer, heat. etc) which, In my opinion are more detrimental to how woman are perceived. All seems a bit silly to be honest!


Page 2 of 85


More UK stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.