Boom! The 'Slow Down' of Lad's Mags
Lad's Mags are disappearing and rebranding .. Thanks to Women's Groups
Nuts, Front and Maxine fold –Boom!
Loaded re-loaded with a ‘zero nipple’ policy and Julie Burchill as a columnist – Boom!
Stuff (the gadget mag) relaunching without the ‘glamour’ shot covers - Boom!
After years of tyranny, with lad’s mags spilling over the shelves in every corner shop and supermarket, they are not only being forced to ‘slow down’, they are in full-on retreat!
Ignore all the market-speak of ‘broadening our appeal to women’ (Stuff) or ‘catering to a shift in readership’. This has been driven by one thing and one thing alone – Profit margins. And these have been plummeting for one reason and one reason alone – the tireless protest by countless women, men (and even, on occasion, children) and the years of campaigning and lobbying from organisations like OBJECT, UK FEMINISTA and the giant, MUMSNET.
A Brief History of Retreat
Want to know what really forced this retreat? Well it all started way back in 2006 with the pressure group I am proud to have started, OBJECT
OBJECT went straight for the jugular. It took this straight to the top, to Parliament.
OBJECT met with the Home Office and Department of Culture of Media and Sport and gave a blow-by-blow account of the content of a typical lad’s mag. It got an MP to raise a debate on lads’ mags in Parliament and a motion passed calling for ‘socially responsible regulation of the press’ (this was years ahead of Leveson). And it got the major retail regulator (the National Federation of Retail Newsagents) to issue new (of course, voluntary) guidelines on “How Lad’s mags (and ladies Mags!!) should be displayed in order to avoid customer complaints” (!)
That was just the start in the long slow haul to get lad’s mags off the bottom shelf, where they were being sold next to Beano at pocket money prices to primary school children (targeting boys of 11 and 12, according to one lad’s mags editor). Getting them off the counter. Ending the endless promotional displays filling the windows of WHSmiths (dubbed WHSmut, by some).
Years of campaigning by OBJECT followed – from putting the lad’s mags sold in shops into brown paper bags ('where porn belongs') to conga-ing down the aisles of Tescos in pyjamas asking why Tesco banned shoppers in PJs as ‘offensive’ yet continued to stock soft porn. Joined by UK FEMINISTA, supermarkets then faced the threat of legal challenge – with their sale of lad’s mags breaching sexual discrimination laws. And the final death-knell came when MUMSNET added its weight to the cause, with supermarkets finally falling over themselves to consign their soft porn to the top shelf
So while we should be questioning how things could ever have been allowed to get so bad in the first place and why it took years and years of struggle and even the intervention of Parliament to effect change, for the time being let’s celebrate! BOOM!