The Guardian Weekend (Saturday's paper version, sorry no link) boldly claims that feminists aren't really bothered by the proliferation of so-called Lad Mags. They haven't actually interviewed any feminists, nor have they cited any sources of this conclusion. Strangely only the other week they were quoting feminist statements from the Cru-bog on their very pages so they are clearly aware of the existance of my blog and it's slant. You would think it would be a straightforward exercise for them to take a peek and see that I've published several articles complaining about different aspects of such magazines. I've never written anything specifically about them as a genre though - I thought it was obvious we all abhorred them. So to set the record straight here are my views:
1) Porn degrades women. I covered the backbone of my reasons for believing this here.
2) Lads Mags often claim that what they show is merely "titilating" and not actually "porn". Wrong! Women in a state of undress deliberately photographed and displayed for the purpose of sexually exciting readers IS porn. The average lad's mag has around seventy SEVENTY topless photos per issue. That's actually more than Playboy, etc.
3) Furthermore many magazines claim to be "soft core" porn. By which they mean they don't actually show cunts*, just tits. Well I don't think we should measure "soft" versus "hard" in purely anatomical terms. The images shown often allude to violence - women tied up, etc and often allude to sodomy. Articles such as "How to talk your girlfriend into having anal sex" and "How to hypnotise women into bed" re-inforce the allusions. In any case I think soft porn degrades women too.
4) The articles and text that come along with the photos are generally very heavily drenched in terminology which objectifies and belittles women. Articles routinely refer to women as though they were animals or non-human. For example in the context of "how to train your girlfriend" and refering to breast augmentation surgery as "a refit", breasts as "air-bags", etc, etc. The notorious "Win a boob job for your girlfriend" feature I have covered in greater length here. Articles standardly refer to women as poor drivers, incapable of performing simple DIY tasks, indecisive, irrational, excessively talkative and obsessed with their appearances and shopping.
5) These magazines go to great lengths to give the impression that a large majority of women are little short of desperate to appear in them. Articles such as "Street Strip Challenge" where women are recruited as topless models on the street and photos sent in by women. The message being sent out is that if you don't wish to participate in the degrading circus you're in some way abnormal, prudish, etc.
6) The celebrity women interviewed are never offered a platform of any sort for their achievements beyond the superficial and titilating. Their views on politics/business/culture/etc are glossed over in favour of innumerable questions about whether they've ever had a threesome/lesbian experience/etc.
7) These magazines are not "top shelf", they're not available only in brown paper bags from shops with dark shutters, they're available in ordinary newsagents, on flights and trains and doctor's waiting room tables. The arguement that if you want to you can ignore them is invalid. Every woman who leaves her home to work or socialise runs the risk of seeing these magazines every day. They have single-handedly (in every sense) legitamised porn for public consumption. Their readership extends to boys as young as 10 to 12 years old. Of course amidst all the sexual imagery there is little or no mention of (1) contraception (2) STDs, (3) unwanted pregnancy or, heaven forbid, (4) responsibility for other's feelings int he context of relationships.
So yes, on balance I would say that, as a feminist, I am VERY bothered by the latest generation of so-called "Lad Mags"...
* In case anyone is thinking of proposing that I'm being sexist/offensive/unconstructive using this word, it's my term of choice for three reasons (1) It comes from the old English for "triangle" while vagina comes from the Latin for sword-holder, I don't like to think of mine as having a primary purpose as a recepticle for a weapon, (2) I think the vagina is a small part of a full on triangle (or as I call it "cunt") of key anatomical-parts: clitoris, labia, etc and (3) certain people get really pissed off when I say it, usually the kind of people I really want to piss off, i.e. misogynists.