So, the #losetheladsmags campaign hates ‘Lad’s Mags’, because they ‘portray women as dehumanised sex objects’ and they ‘promote an idea of male sexuality as based on power and aggression, depicting women as sex objects and including articles that feature strategies for manipulating women’.
And, you know, that all sounds good. As in, it sounds bad! No one should want anyone else to be dehumanised and open to violence. I want my daughters to grow up in a society that tells them that however they look is fine, and whoever they decide they are is beautiful. I want them to have a positive body image, and grow into strong, empowered women. If I had sons, I’d want them to respect themselves and everyone they met, whoever they are and whatever their appearance, gender and beliefs.
So far as I can determine from the website, (http://www.losetheladsmags.org.uk/) this campaign has two issues:
1. It wants to protect us from ‘page three style’ covers being on view in major supermarkets. The reason that page three is on page three is so that it’s inside and not on general view, as it involves nipples. Most major supermarkets have modesty covers for anything vaguely sexualised, including gay interest magazines – which is all well and good, unless you want to know what the articles are about this month.
So, we are not actually subject to those images.
2. Employees can and should sue shops they work in because they are being forced to handle objectionable material. But that’s really not going to work if they were already selling them when they took the job. You can’t work in Ann Summers for 6 months then decide to sue them for exposing you to sexualised material. That would just be silly.
So, employees can’t sue their workplaces for things that are already on sale.
Which makes the whole ‘campaign’ a bit of a waste of time.
If you really want to make sure that overly sexualised and unrealistic body ideals are not promoted to the impressionable, then ‘lad’s mags’ are not your target. The true, insidious promotion of dehumanisation of womens’ bodies is right there, at eye level. In the magazines for women, selling us size zero, photoshopped ideals, telling us how to please men, how we should look, how we should orgasm. Telling my daughters that they should diet, and what they need to spend on clothes to fit in.
If you are going to ban things according to their covers, then I give you this. Which of these covers offend you? Which do you not want your children exposed to? Which should be removed from our shelves to protect impressionable young minds?
(Warning: boobs. Do not look if offended by women’s bodies)
Take Bizarre, which may or may not be included in the very unspecific ‘Lads’ Mag’ criteria. More than anything, bless Bizarre for making a mockery of this whole campaign. I agree they should be top shelf/modesty-covered, along with the tattoo and gay interest magazines, but don’t you DARE ban them. Bizarre, in particular are one of the few (if not only) magazines on general release that positively promote plus size, transgendered, disabled and sub-culture models. Say what you like, but I’ve let my daughters read Bizarre from an early age, and I hope that is one of many things that have made them more accepting of all the various definitions of sexuality and beauty that exist.
Lads’ mags sell to lads. They know who they are. They like cars, beer, gadgets and boobs. They like short sentences and innuendo. And, damn you all, so do I. They are NOT the problem.
The problem is girls’ mags. Deriding female celebrities for being photographed not at their best. Mocking anyone in the public eye who puts on any weight. Questioning the value of any woman who isn’t in a very small and exclusive subset of body image. Making ordinary, attractive women question their worth based on which products they buy, where they shop and how often they have sex.
In all honesty, I’d rather my daughters saw large boobs at eyelevel in the newsagent than stick insect celebrities. But the fact is, they don’t, because we have ‘modesty covers’. So what IS the point of the #losetheladsmags campaign? I struggle to understand, and I say their ire is entirely misplaced.