'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 1689.

    So when can we see the scientific evidence that seeing topless women harms a childs development? or that a man who reads these magazines will immediatly punch his girlfriend in the face?
    People have always whined about how stuff like this damages society and development yet not a single scientific paper has come out proving it. Personally I hate these magazines though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1688.

    ....the EXACT 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 because a loud minority demand something doesn't mean everyone wants it. I'm a member of the co-op and was never asked about this and I bet no-one else was.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1687.

    If the Coop is so concerned what it's customers think, maybe it should focus on delivering fresh produce rather than the 'mouldy tat' that they mistakenly brand as 'fruit and veg'....and I'm a member !

  • rate this

    Comment number 1686.

    The best solution is for the Co-op to hand out blindfolds to all those who wish to enter the premises, but don't wish to see anything that offends their delicate sensibilities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1685.

    Arguing for the right to portray females as only worth the size of their chests and talk about them in language of contempt is sexist in the same way that racist language and thought processes used to be accepted. Most people in the UK simply cannot see beyond the nudity to look at the messages about women these publications carry and how that results in 1.2m sexist attacks in the home a year

  • rate this

    Comment number 1684.

    Planet zog Sally
    I've just realised I'm trying to engage someone with when it's futile to do so. If a typical lads mag reader is a woman of 40 then you have me bang to rights! You clearly didn't even read what I posted, except the last line which mesmerised you because you are incredibly thin skinned. You believe you write dispassionately but to me it reads as seething mass of hate aimed at men.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1683.

    @954 - totally agree. It is like the storm men only clubs caused recently. I don't see many men campaigning outside Curves 'ladies only Gym' wanting to be allowed in. It is clearly OK to show half naked women in gossip mags (not to mention half naked men) yet they can be seen and reached by children unlike the 'top shelf' mags which can't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1682.

    Do these people who get offended by scantily clad women, want us all to start dressing in head to toe cover-ups - where exactly do we draw the line? A bikini is too much exposure? - someone better close all the beaches! If a bikini is OK on a beach - why is it wrong for the cover of a magazine???

  • Comment number 1681.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1680.

    Actually very clever Co-op, this woman is the last person I want to see bleeting on the tv when I get home tonight. I'm going to go buy me a 'lads mag' instead. Phwoar!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1679.

    We want equality! We want to stop men objectifying women! We want to be treated like intelligent adults! We want 9 months maternity leave then to come back to the same job despite the fact we now want it part time but at the same wage, we want to be housewives and pretend it's a real job, we want to be porn stars and claim oppression for a job we applied for...


    Grow up...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1678.

    A bit of perspective is needed here. Nobody is banning these mags. My son is now an older teenager. I trust him to make his own decisions about what he looks at. But when he was younger he used to get really embarrassed about mags like Zoo, Nuts etc. He simply wasn't ready to see the overtly sexual images at his age. Put them on a higher shelf, that's all, not directly at children's eye level.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1677.

    1640 SallyPlanetZog
    It is ironic that this blog is being dominated by men angry abvout this proposal and the tiny minority who have an opinion that differs are shot down as "men haters".
    I think the words 'tiny minority' might be a good indicator of what is wrong with your opinion. If you hadn't concentrated on the 'lads mags' but gone for all mags .....

  • rate this

    Comment number 1676.


    Is it me, or is feminism a byword for moral cowardice??!

    Men and women alike would get behind the feminist movement if they tried to tackle the real thorny issues, but they won't and we all know why!



  • rate this

    Comment number 1675.

    @1635 Avalon, if you read my comment again, you will see I didn't argue in favour of magazines like that either, I simply said that they are different. I agree that those magazines are harmful for different reasons, but that is not the topic here. I also think that magazines have a responsibility. While they will always display "aspirational" images, they have to consider the negative impact.

  • Comment number 1674.

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

  • Comment number 1673.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1672.

    3 Minutes ago

    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.


    Just look at the front cover of any womens magazine and tell me it doesn`t impact on girls self image in the same way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1671.

    Wait a minute; I've read Loaded, Zoo AND Nuts. Does this mean I don't respect my wife and mother? I've also seen actual pornography and enjoyed it without once raping and murdering someone. I also once saw the front cover of the Gay Times - am I gay now? Is it possible that I can form my own opinion and moderate my own behaviour?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1670.

    @1660.Onan the Barbarian, actually I know a number of women in IT, most tend to gravitate towards the Project Management roles, as its more organisational and involves telling people to do things.


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