Notes on feminist news & issues
Here’s news to prove that campaigning really works!:
Co-op stores in the UK have put an ultimatum on lads mags, with objectifying pictures of half naked women on their covers, to put the magazines in ‘modesty bags’. If they won’t they will not be sold there anymore. This happened after feminists campaigned against those magazines sitting everywhere on the shelves in plain sight.
It seems that the stores and the publishers are still negotiating and are maybe just playing hardball, so just maybe the outcome may still change. But anyway, the fact that stores are now concerned with this issue when before nobody seemed to care, is a great achievement. I think that not very much was needed even (not to downplay the huge effort but to stress that protesting always makes sense)….the campaign was backed by many feminist groups and the site is quite good, it consists of a petition and there was a lot of tweeting. Probably most effective was the threat of lawsuits for sexual harassment,: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/sales-of-lads-mags-could-amount-to-sexual-harassment-lawyers-tell-shops-8632909.html (Don’t forget to go to the comments to see the sad state society is in and be disgusted with the average public’s, or well mostly men’s, opinion…I see ‘feminazi’ and ‘censorship’ being used….how old and pathetic). Fairly quickly UK’s national media picked it up I believe (having capable women on their staff helps). http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/may/27/lose-lads-mags-risk-legal-action Nobody had to actually go fight or anything or use any bombs or what have you, just a good network, good pr and a threat to sue (being backed up by the law certainly helps). In fact I thought in the beginning that they would not pull it off because these lads mags are so widespread and there are a lot of lads and ignorant assholes in the UK (as there are anywhere else).
This is GREAT news, but there is a tiny but: the message of why the having the magazines out in plain sight is offensive seems to be not entirely clear to everyone. There are two ways to look at it, or perhaps three:
1. the covers are offensive because they objectify women and this creates an athmosphere in stores and workplaces that is toxic for women who shop/work there (and it is priming men in general with thoughts of hot babes and sex during the whole day),
2. the magazines were often placed next to children’s magazines: we don’t want children to be influenced by images of sex at a young age,
3. the covers are not modest…they show women in a stage of undress and women should not expose themselves.
Feminists are not fans of promoting modesty for modesty’s sake and in fact the views behind 1 and 3 are incompatible, while 2 is compatible with both, but for very different reasons. Still, in order to achieve the goal no big deal was made of any modesty-discussion as far as I saw, which helped I think. But I see spokesperson Sophie Bennett did/does address the issue:
`Lads’ mags are not an issue of taste and decency. These publications cause real harm, reducing women to a sum of body parts rather than real people.’
Still, I wonder whether shop owners, the public and the publishers are actually not very divided in their views as to why the issue is important. It may have consequences in the long run: the campaign may turn out to have been a step towards the ‘cover women up’ philosophy of, for instance, religious organizations. But hey, that’s the future and you may accuse me of thinking way too much, I probably am. Still, the term ‘modesty bag’ slightly creeps me out.
Here’s Sophie Benett again:
`The more accurate term for these so-called ‘modesty bags’ is ‘misogyny bags’ – because the issue for the thousands of people who have called on shops to lose the lads’ mags is absolutely not about nudity. It’s about sexism.’
I hope people get it.