Russell Taylor: In praise of lads’ mags

I’ve never liked the Co-op very much. Growing up, I didn’t care for their colourless, Soviet-style shops, and when I learnt what a co-operative was, the dislike only intensified. Our relationship hasn’t improved over time, either. I now find myself annoyed by their TV commercials, which smugly boast that the Co-op is “good with food”. Never mind if their products are cheap or of good quality; we’re asked to admire how sanctimonious they are as a company. You have to wonder what kind of cretin would consider that a selling point.

Then there’s the choice of voiceover actor for their ads. I’ve nothing against the Scottish accent – I think it’s delightful, in fact – but I resent its use in this instance precisely because they would never have used someone with a Home Counties accent in a million years. They want to showcase their down-with-the-proles bona fides and reckon there’s nothing more salty pand authentic than a Jock – which is patronising to both the Scots and the working classes, especially as the people who rubber-stamped these ads probably sound more like Brian Sewell than Rab C. Nesbitt.

Now, we have the Co-op’s crowning act of halo-polishing: their demand that so-called lads’ mags use ‘modesty bags’ to spare those of a delicate disposition from laying eyes on the scantily-clad women that adorn their covers. In the manner of a ransom demand, the supermarket has issued a deadline for compliance, after which it will refuse to sell the offending publications.

This must have been a no-brainer for the Co-op’s politburo, because its brief is seemingly to create the most obnoxiously po-faced supermarket on the high street and this stunt has served its image well. Whether it wins or loses this battle, I’ve no doubt there will be others after it – all horribly right-on and inimical to the running of a successful business – that eventually lead to the company’s downfall. Which will be a shame for the people who work there, and for that Scottish voiceover bloke, but a blessed relief for the rest of us.

The Co-op didn’t come up with the campaign against lads’ mags by itself. It hopped on a bandwagon driven by groups like UK Feminista and Object, and cheered on by self-righteous bitches’ covens like Mumsnet. Their argument appears to be that these magazines are instruments of a culture that treats women as sexual objects and denies them the respect they deserve. By putting their lewd covers behind opaque plastic sleeves, campaigners hope to break the cycle and prevent the next generation of young men from becoming a chauvinistic cabal of wolf-whistlers, arse-pinchers, wife-beaters and glass-ceiling-builders.

I certainly don’t want women to be belittled or discriminated against, but neither am I willing to accept that this is what’s happening just because some feminists say it is. I suppose it’s distantly possible that they’re right about the mind-bending properties of lads’ mags, but it’s far more likely that men just like looking at attractive women, that there’s nothing wrong with magazines catering to that interest, that they don’t diminish the standing of women in society, and that turning a perfectly natural desire into a grubby, under-the-counter business is not particularly healthy.

Whatever harmony between the sexes looks like, I’m certain that it’s not what’s left once our attitudes and opinions have been screened by the Left’s man-hating moderators. It does women no favours to let these harridans portray them as helpless victims. Any group that claims this status effectively admits that it is unable to negotiate the vagaries of life, and surrenders its interests to self-appointed guardians, who will exploit their position to pursue their own grievances against society. Women are perfectly capable of thinking and acting for themselves without their axe-grinding sisters representing them.

In a sane world, we’d leave people to make up their own minds about these things, but the trouble with feminism and left-wing movements in general is that they are a response to other people’s failure to agree with a particular point of view. Think that moral codes should evolve out of freely-expressed public preference? Well, that would be fine with the Left if the public turned out to be censorious prigs who ascribe every human dissatisfaction to exploitation and oppression. If not, then there’s not much room for discussion. Everyone must be whipped into line and laws passed to criminalise dissent.

It’s dangerous to give an inch to such people because they don’t have an end-game. What they’re after is an on-going endorsement of their resentment, a sense of solidarity with the people they claim to represent, and a chance to do battle with their enemies. They want revolution, not resolution. As the activist Jerry Rubin put it: “Satisfy our demands and we got twelve more. The more demands you satisfy, the more we got. We always put our demands forward in such an obnoxious manner that the power structure can never satisfy us and remain the power structure. Then we scream, righteously angry, when our demands are not met. Satisfy our demands and we lose. Deny our demands and through struggle we achieve the love and brotherhood of a community.”

So does this mean we should upset the feminists by giving them what they want? No, because it won’t end with ‘modesty bags’ or putting Page Three girls in burkas. Each satisfied demand will only lead to a fresh one, more unpalatable than the last. If you want a picture of what that future looks like, imagine a woman’s foot stamping on a man’s groin – forever.

The Co-op’s stand against lads’ mag publishers doesn’t amount to much on its own, but it’s indicative of a society in thrall to left-wing pieties and their enforcers. Feminists are the agitators du jour, but next time it will be environmentalists, animal rights campaigners, anti-racist zealots, or some other crusading nutcases who think the vehemence of their indignation makes them right. Each demand they make should be understood as a push towards a more illiberal society and should be resisted. That’s why, if I were a magazine publisher, I’d tell the Co-op where to stick its demands, and pay for half-naked women to visit its stores and smear themselves in Nutella. Good with food, my arse.

14 comments on “Russell Taylor: In praise of lads’ mags

  1. Colin Miles
    July 31, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    It’s all at the co-op, the noo.

  2. dr
    July 31, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    Have to admit, I do feel sorry for feminism and real feminists. Because almost the entire feminist movement has now been hijacked by the socialist left.
    If you are a female conservative, who believes in gender equality, then it is unlikely that you will fit in easily with the current mutated feminist movement.
    This is a shame, in my view, because I don’t believe that we have gender equality in our society despite the fact that it isn’t fashionable to say that, but the socialists don’t really care about gender equality or the aims of feminism historically, they are simply trying to find and use another brand to advance their worldview.

    • Honey Badger
      July 31, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

      I agree with dr. Feminism, rather than continuing to be an empowerment movement for women, has become a victim group exploited by the socilaist movement which creates victims wherever it can in order to advance its poisonious agenda.

  3. Billy Blofeld
    July 31, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    What really winds me up about the “Good with food” strapline, is that they pronounce it “Good with fud”.

    …… and anyway, I don’t buy food. Food is something I feed my dogs. I buy ingredients and products to create breakfast, lunch or dinner. I never just make “food”.

    Whilst I’m at it the Wickes strapline “Wickes, it’s got our name on it”. Arrrgghhhhh – the way their guy pronounces “Whhhyx” rather than “Wickes”…… Arrgghhhhhh

    • Aparat
      August 2, 2013 at 1:11 am #

      …and shouldn’t it be, “…it has our name on it.”?

  4. Kevin T
    July 31, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    It’s notable that this came on top of the golf club sexism row, and now the Twitter outrage has come on top of this. All of it coming in the silly season when there’s little actual news and the media was bound to latch onto it. Clearly it’s being co-ordinated. The trivial stuff first, the more serious complaint about rape threats last after womens’ oppression has been established as an issue. The one thing I’d disagree with in this otherwise superb piece is that there are endgames, and the highest prized is control of the media and the internet, and forcing them to bow to the values of Harriet Harman and Stella Creasy.

  5. Fabian the Fabulous
    July 31, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

    Apparently the Co-op Bank is about to give the the brand’s holier than holy image a severe kicking.

  6. Dave_G
    August 1, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    We need a definition of ‘protest’. If one swallow does not a summer make then how many complainants are required to make a case? A number? A percentage? We need to know. If the value has already been set it needs to be adjusted upwards – say to two or three….. maybe four, just to eliminate the awkward s0ds.

  7. Mark H
    August 2, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Blaming lads’ mags for sexual violence is like blaming attractive displays for shoplifting.
    Genuine feminists should attack extreme misogyny as a priority, like Femen.

  8. Graham N Booth
    August 3, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    This has been going on for decades at the Co-op. The Co-op bank, for example, announced in the late 1980s, I think, that it would not accept accounts for any field-sport organisation. Hence a local shoot or hunt could not bank there. The Co-op announced back in the ’70s that it was anti-hunting, and that hounds were not welcome on the large area of farmland it owned (whether the farmers who were tenants on their land agreed or not – and almost all of them didn’t).

    They are without doubt the most repellent of all the po-faced, prissy, sanctimonioous, self-righteous puritans and prigs who blight our lives here in what was once Merry Old England.

  9. Steve Brown
    August 3, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    Why is it that a few hundred shrieking activists of whatever persuasion can have such a drastic effect upon the lives of millions of others?
    Why does any company (or Government) listen to the very tiny but highly vociferous minority whist blithely ignoring the millions of silent voters/customers?
    I can’t understand it.

  10. metaphOrgasm (@metaphOrgasm)
    August 6, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    A passage from Rachel Moran’s ( book about her experiences in prostitution (“Paid For”) seems particularly apt here in support of my earlier point: “I have experienced the damage of stripping and pornography. These are not harmless industries. They are not, by the way, distinct industries, they are part of the same one big prostitution machine, a mechanism which actively reduces the worth of women and does so by placing their commodification both at its apex and at its core.” Note the reference to commodification. Hope you find this helpful.


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