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Lads’ Mags: the New Topsy&Tim?
In the light of a recent study conducted by the Universities of Surrey and Middlesex which found a disgustingly close resemblance between the material produced by lads’ mags and direct quotes from convicted rapists it is important to consider the implications of the publication of lads’ mags on all aspects of society. The ‘aspect’ I’d like to focus on in this post is children. Two things: first, the harmful message of sexual aggression and dangerous sexual behaviour is not one for adults; nor is it for children. If there are increases in child-child, teen-teen rape and sexual violence; or in disrespectful attitudes towards the other sex and relationships/sex, it is coming from somewhere. Yes, parents. Yes, celebrity culture. Yes, TV. But yes, written publications and their messages that spread like wildfire. These should not be available to young people. There are indeed guidelines regarding whom shops are allowed to sell to – but even lads’ mags’ articles’ titles should not prey on innocent boys with shocking, colourful titles about sexual conquering (OR, and this is for another time, how to achieve the Jacob Cullen-esque “quintessentially male” body type). Nor should they prey on innocent young girls unaware of the traumatic sexualised expectations that await them (or, so we think. Let’s change that, too.) Lads’ mags are both dictators and representatives of the harmful culture children are reared in: this should not be. Secondly, lads’ mags operate on the ‘sex sells’ marketing hook. They include a lot of porn. Pornographic images are strong and do not leave the mind. They are also chemically addictive and these first exposures are the root of many child and adult porn addictions. The average age of a child’s first exposure to online pornography is 11 and lads’ mags make ‘paper’ pornography even more accessible than online pornography. Porn productions exploit ‘actors’ and often involve trafficked victims. Porn helps perpetuate the demand for prostitution and sex trafficking. Adult porn has taken on a 'childified' nature that encourages and creates demand for child porn. Lads’ mags are available in virtually every grocery and newsagent’s shop you walk into. Their sales teams are smart: they increasingly have them places at the forefront of the magazine sections, to entice customers. Children and young people walk into these shops on the innocent grounds of buying sweets or accompanying adults on shopping trips. Lads’ mags are at their eye-level. Porn and harmful messages of sexually aggressive and dangerous behaviour are, literally, before our children’s eyes. Ideally, these magazines would be banned for their poisonous content. (So would Glamour, Cosmo and the ‘sisterhood’). And it is with the higher aim of creating a non-sexualised and non-sexualising, non-objectified and non-objectifying culture that we fight the battle, one day, conversation, study, petition and law at a time. In the meantime, children should not have to cover their eyes when buying sweets. One concerned father, outraged at the magazine display in his local Co-op store, has established an e-petition asking for lads’ mags to be covered in black liner, concealing all but the magazine’s own titles. Help make modesty wraps law. Let’s cover the lads’ mags. Please join in signing the online petition, by clicking here: Gemma Wilson. Gemma is an activist, educator & year-long Christmas enthusiast. She blogs about justice, slavery/human trafficking, objectification/sexualisation issues and education at http://www.gemmawilson.wordpress.com/