Losing the Lads’ Mags – Are we really losing our sexual liberation?

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No More Page Three, Lose the Lads’ Mags. Now, nuts to Nuts! The closure of Nuts magazine is celebrated for the realisation that fewer people want to proudly objectify women, fewer people want to shuffle up to the counter, Nuts in hand, hovering between embarrassment and macho pride developed from their teen years when they realised that a few quid could buy them the right to own pictures of nipples. What’s next? Perhaps the Sun will finally learn to deal with the reality of the existence of boobs and stop displaying them, like some groundbreaking discovery, like children holding up their first drawing: ‘Look, more boobs!’ Even better, they could stop trying to sexualise cancer and defend their misogynistic rag with their last dying breath by saying ‘hey, misogyny is great, if we mix it with concern for cancer!’

Pathetic, but it works. Some fight for the Lads’ Mags and Page Three, holding them up as a beacon of progression and female empowerment and warning us of the dark age we will fall into if we reject such expressions of female sexuality. And many are fooled into believing that those who oppose these magazines would have us ladies shuffling around the streets, wearing chastity belts and holding our dresses around our ankles. Moreover, we are convinced that it is all for our benefit.  Many would celebrate the fact that men are taught to be, and generalised as so hypersexually heterosexual, that they fall weak at the knees of a naked woman, with the mantra ‘it’s okay though right, the men are the ones being exploited aren’t they?’

This view assumes that we have reached the pinnacle of female empowerment. It tells us women to calm down, this is good as its going to get, so enjoy it. I don’t know what definition of sexual liberation half the country seems to be going by, but it certainly isn’t embodied by lad’s mags. The nudity is not the issue. No opponent of the lads’ mags would assert that the female body is something obscene, in fact, many of us have one ourselves. The patronising language used is an issue, emulating rapists or at least the voice of an entitled child who would throw a tantrum when not given his toys, in the same way that the language used in lad’s mags teaches us that men own women and that they should throw their toys out of the pram when a woman does not find all their attempts to woo them – ‘nice tits’- at all enduring. Women of the same shape and size, with little diversity, being valued purely by looks, is not empowerment.

It is dangerous for the ongoing struggle to be taken seriously, to not be assaulted, to be valued on what is under our chests and in our heads, not on them, and convenient for those who wish to silence the movement for gender equality to push lads’ mags as a beacon of empowerment for women and a vital piece of the sexual liberation puzzle. I have the feeling our sexual liberation will be just fine without them.

Image by Sasha Spaid
Image by Sasha Spaid
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