While the Co-op was the first to react, demanding that all lads’ mags were adorned with “modesty sleeves” (that’s a plastic cover to you and me), retail
giant Tesco has gone further and persuaded three magazines (the imaginatively named Zoo, Front and Nuts) to modify their covers and they are restricting
sales to over 18s. While the cover imagery will be less explicit and more modest, the magazines’ content will not change.
UK Feminista spokesperson Kat Banyard told The Guardian that they will continue their campaign to end the lads’ mags industry in its entirety “because they
are deeply harmful. They fuel sexist behaviours which underpin violence towards women.” Ms Banyard also pointed out that Tesco’s decision to only sell the
material to over 18’s treats it as pornography and the chain does not carry pornography as a matter of policy.
Although the modification of the magazines’ covers does not mark the end of the anti-lads’ mags campaigns, the step taken by Tesco is positive. The
retailer is a very powerful ally – in the UK last year, 1 pound of every 10 spent in British shops was spent in Tesco. Further, the distinction between
so-called men’s lifestyle magazines featuring hyper-sexualised, highly explicit imagery and pornography is being challenged. A discussion including
feminist groups, publishers, retailers and readers has begun in an open forum – a first step worth celebrating.