Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A shift away from boobs, babes and bums

A couple of weeks ago, the news broke that Blue Publishing, the company that publishes Loaded magazine, has been forced into administration. While the lads’ mag will still be available through new firm Loaded Media Limited, it seems Blue Publishing’s mass expansion plans for the title have been put on hold.

Now we’re not mentioning this because we delight in other people’s misfortunes, but we are interested in the anti-nudity shift that seems to be emerging in the media, and particularly in the lads’ mag domain. The ‘No More Page 3’ debate has been well publicised – it has even been addressed in parliament – and a more recent campaign entitled ‘Tesco: Lose the Lads’ Mags’ is also gathering speed.

Derided by some as ‘feminist claptrap’, it’s clear that this recent trend goes far deeper; many of these campaigns are supported by and even led by men. It seems that men want more than just boobs and bums these days, and some even consider this type of female objectification to be an insult to the ‘fairer sex’. 

Even those that have been embroiled in the lads’ mag industry appear to be changing their minds about what makes for appropriate content and what doesn’t. A Daily Mail interview with former Loaded editor Martin Daubney is particularly revealing.

“To me, it was harmless fun, dictated by market forces,” he told the tabloid paper. “What’s more, I was paid more money than I’d ever earned in my life to do it. I’d always dreamed of editing Loaded and vowed to do whatever it took to stay there. 
I never stopped to consider issues like the crass sexualisation of women. Moral naysayers were party-poopers, and if they attacked me, I’d attack them back –  harder.”

Looking back, he sees things a little differently: “We were normalising soft porn, and in so doing we must have made it more acceptable for young men to dive into the murky waters of harder stuff on the internet. And, for that, I have a haunting sense of regret.”

However, Martin is realistic about the future. “Let’s be clear: you can’t ever ban pornography,” he says. “Like tax and Tory U-turns, it is painfully unavoidable and lots of consenting adults consume it of their own free will. But we must tighten up the current laws to make it unavailable to children, as it can be so damaging. It sells boys the debasing view of women as one-dimensional fakes: fake boobs, fake hair, fake nails, fake orgasms and fake hope.”

Moreover, it seems Tesco is taking these concerns seriously. The supermarket chain’s chairman, Sir Richard Broadbent said he was considering the campaign targeted at Tesco and that he had been ‘startled’ by some of the content featured in the lads’ mags featured on the stores shelves.

When Sorted launched in 2007, it was specifically aimed at guys who were looking for an alternative to the nudity-rich, content-poor men’s magazines on the market. By including a wide range of features from celebrity interviews to gadgets, cars, music and even sex, Sorted is all about providing a high-quality magazine that men can read openly and with a clear conscience.

In response to the shift in demand away from these semi-pornographic magazines, Sorted has increased its print run to 40,000 copies per issue. The magazine is also distributing free copies across London in bars and restaurants, tube and railway stations, airport departure gates, universities and gyms – and also via a dedicated Sorted Taxi that will roam the streets of the capital for the next year giving out thousands of copies and discussing the issues the magazine raises.

Show the retailers your support for a magazine that doesn’t objectify women and is more entertaining than the soft-porn shelf-huggers that are available to adults and children alike. 

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