Lads' mags should get abreast of popular opinion

There are far too many tits in publishing.

Ruth Wyatt: 'It is perfectly reasonable for the majority of society to object to imagery objectifying them being thrust under their noses.'
Ruth Wyatt: 'It is perfectly reasonable for the majority of society to object to imagery objectifying them being thrust under their noses.'

I don't mean the restaurant critics who savage the subs desk over the placement of a comma, nor the columnists who write about the minutiae of their lives to the indifference of all.

I mean images of breasts.

That the campaign to kill off The Sun's Page 3 was unsuccessful is a sad indictment of how much further we Brits have to go before we fully understand and embrace sexual equality.

This week's move by the Co-op to force men's magazines to offer more modest covers or be delisted is welcome on many fronts (pun intended).

I'm no prude. I worked on GQ and Esquire in my younger days. I've campaigned for men's rights and commented on why Loaded, the original lads' mag, so perfectly captured the mid-90s zeitgeist. (The right bastard backlash to the caring, sharing 90s and the much vaunted birth of the New Man, if you're interested.)

But the lads' mags went so far down the path of soft porn that traditional top-shelf magazines began repositioning themselves as lifestyle titles.

I remember a commissioning editor of Mayfair bemoaning the fact he had to think beyond babes and bonnets because FHM or Loaded had a higher nipple count.

Women don't want semi-nudity in the supermarket, the corner shop, when they have their kids in tow or when they open a national newspaper.

And looking at the results of this week's Reputation Survey (p26), they don't want the hardcore equivalent to be easily accessible in their homes.

Prime Minister David Cameron's widely derided policy to stop porn on tap through the internet found strong public support, particularly among women.

It is perfectly reasonable for the majority of society to object to imagery objectifying them being thrust under their noses.

It would be wonderful if we had evolved enough as a society that we inherently understood the greater impact of objectification of the human body.

But that seems a long, long way off.

It is a truly awful state of affairs when a campaigner - arguably a bloody good PR campaigner - is subject to threats of rape and murder.

Caroline Criado-Perez has been subject to Twitter abuse of the vilest nature following her successful campaign to have Jane Austen on the new ten pound note.

It would appear that flack is a feminist issue.

ruth.wyatt@haymarket.com

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