Monday, 20 June 2011
Lads' mags: the great cover-up
Outside a branch of Tesco in central London on a cool Friday evening, 30 people in pyjamas, nightgowns and fluffy slippers have gathered to campaign against lads' mags. All are members of the activist group Object and they are here to take part in the monthly Porn Versus Pyjamas campaign. They dart down the dairy aisle, through the frozen foods section, before coming to the display of lads' magazines, which they mark with their own slogans. FHM is put in a paper bag emblazoned with: "For Horrible Misogynists", while Maxim is hidden behind the phrase "MAXIMum Sexism".
The women start a conga-line through the supermarket, chanting "Hey, ho, sexist mags have got to go", alerting security guards to their presence. Eventually they're ushered out, but not before depositing pamphlets, entitled Porn v Pyjamas: Why Lads' Mags Are Harmful, in customers' baskets.
Their campaign began earlier this year, after Tesco ruled that customers wouldn't be allowed to shop in pyjamas because this could make other people feel uncomfortable. Object bit back by accusing some Tesco stores of ignoring the voluntary codes of conduct that suggest lads' mags should be covered up and repositioned on the top shelf, alongside pornographic content.
Object was set up in 2003 to challenge the sexual objectification of women. It has enjoyed some notable successes. Its campaign Stripping the Illusion brought an end to strip clubs being licensed in the same way as cafes and karaoke bars, a policy that had allowed the lap dancing industry to grow by 50% in 10 years. And in 2008 it launched Demand Change, along with the group Eaves Housing for Women, to raise awareness of the realities of prostitution.
The Tesco demonstration is part of its Feminist Fridays campaign – monthly events where activists protest against lads' mags and other forms of sexism. After being ejected from Tesco, the demonstrators spend three hours outside the store, distributing 1,500 leaflets.
"Lads' mags are an example of the mainstreaming of pornography," says Anna van Heeswijk of Object. "The whole tone is of complete contempt [for women]. They are made up of photographs that come straight from pornography and would have been thought of as hardcore 50 years ago. But now the boundaries have been pushed to such an extent that they are considered an appropriate part of lads' mags and soft porn." ...
Read on The Guardian: Lads' Mags: The Great Cover-Up