The British really aren’t into sex, huh? After their Prime Minister David Cameron went after internet porn last week, now The Co-operative Group, one of the largest magazine retailers in the UK, is demanding that “lads’ magazines” showing skimpily-clad cover models provide a modesty bag by September 9 to be sold in their stores.
Retail chief executive Steve Murrells explained:
“As a community-based retailer we have listened to the concerns of our customers and members, many of whom say they object to their children being able to see overt sexual images in our stores.Whilst we have tried to mitigate the likelihood of young children seeing the images with a number of measures in-store, the most effective way of doing this is for these magazines to be put in individual, sealed modesty bags.”
Shops have previously put opaque screens on the shelves to try to shield magazines like Front, Loaded, Zoo, and Nuts from plain view — but consumers did not feel it was enough.
A campaign called Lose The Lads Mags by the groups Object and UK Feminista celebrated, referring to the modesty bags as “misogyny bags.” Jo Swinson, the Minister for Women and Equalities, applauded the effort, calling the decision “welcome.” She continued, “Adults should be left to make their own decisions about what legal sexual images they look at, but the place for these is not next to the sweets at children’s eye-level. I hope other retailers will follow the Co-operative’s lead.”
However, not everyone is cheering on the decision. The former editor of Loaded magazine called it “censorship” and “dark day for British publishing” and “British freedom.” As columnist Sarah Woodley pointed out in the UK’s Guardian, the Co-op now has to answer such questions as “How short can a model’s skirt be before a modesty sleeve is pulled down?” She also pointed out how many women’s magazines like Cosmopolitan also have ladies showing a lot of skin (albeit admittedly much less than magazines like Zoo, above). Will they require modesty bags, too?
It is still unclear at this time if the men’s magazines will comply.
[Photo of magazine shelf courtesy of Shutterstock]