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The clickable alternative 'lad mag'

Are you a callous ape-like subhuman bruteNudity Why The Fuss?Pull Here The 101 Night StandCartoon Top Shelf Humour

Click on each headline above to read our new lad mag

Crosby MP Claire Curtis-Thomas wants Zoo, Nuts and their ilk consigned to the top shelf so minors do not see them. But defenders say there is nothing wrong with pictures of topless women and blokey features.

But what would young men read if feminists took over the editorship? The Magazine asked lad mag critics to pitch a few alternatives.


By Claire Curtis-Thomas, MP for Crosby

While there is nothing wrong with naked images viewed by adults, she says the context and tone of lad magazines are deeply unpleasant.

I find myself being quite a fan of Playboy and Penthouse, probably more Penthouse. Obviously it does contain nude women but incredibly well-presented. The world has always presented images of nudity.

Even an appalling tragedy which has sexual overtones is used to encourage depraved acts
I've got 100 nude men on the beach outside my front door - Anthony Gormley's Another Place - there isn't a hoo-ha about that.

We must accept the fact naked bodies have been a fact of all of our lives, both male and female have been celebrated, but it is the way that they are portrayed that makes them either sexual titillation or art.

The Sport or Zoo or Nuts are far harder, more sexually explicit. The women in these magazines are dehumanised. It is the context, the presentation. I cannot agree to anything that effectively gives carte blanche to things that are highly dangerous and obscene and treats women as a commodity which you can do anything to in order to improve your profits.

Playboy magazine cover
The MP prefers this to lad mags
Zoo's Dictionary of Sex goes beyond anything we consider normal. You wouldn't think of defecating on a human being. Yet this is the type of 'education' made available in this literature.

Recently the Sport produced an article about a girl murdered by a necrophiliac. It wasn't put there with a view to getting people to feel deeply concerned that somebody's life ended tragically. It was about sexual titillation, surrounded by adverts for hardcore porn.

Even an appalling tragedy like that which has sexual overtones is used to encourage depraved acts.

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By Kate Smurthwaite, comedian

Behaving as laddishly as possible is hardly a good way to meet the girl of your dreams. Here are some tips that might apply to real women.

Mary Wollstonecraft: Mother of modern feminism, advocated full education for girls - her daughter Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein
Emmeline Pankhurst: Leader of suffragettes, who got the vote for some women in 1918
Emily Davison: Suffragette who threw herself under the king's horse at Derby in 1913

Stay sober. Forget about nipping out first for some "Dutch courage". The last thing women will be impressed with is you staggering in slumped over your mate's shoulder and singing lewd songs.

Find women-friendly places. Dance classes (with everything from salsa and hip-hop to ballroom on offer) are often 80% or more women, and they'll all be looking for a partner. And if you actually learn how to dance, you're going to be one up on the competition.

Make friends. Don't be put off if the object of your desires doesn't seem interested in leaping straight into bed. If things are going to work out with you you're going to be spending a lot of time together so you might as well be friends to start with.

Germaine Greer: Not just Big Brother star, but author of The Female Eunuch about women's sexual repression
Naomi Wolf: Author of The Beauty Myth about women's treatment in the fashion and beauty industries
Andrea Dworkin: Opponent of pornography, who said it inspired rape and violence, and who died last year

Offer she can't refuse. Don't rack your brains trying to figure out mystically what women want - ask her. If she's starting a new job offer to pick her up on the first day. If she's moving house, offer to drive the van and carry boxes.

Remember women are human too. There's nothing to be scared of.

Swot up. Women don't want to hang out with mace-wielding Neanderthals. Read the newspaper, or at least watch the news. Have something to talk about. Also, knowing a bit about the history of women's rights will impress her and reassure her that you're not just looking for a full-time sock-darner. Check out our factbox to get you started.

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By Dr Sasha Rakoff, Object

Object campaigns against a culture of exploiting women and using sexualised images in adverts. Dr Sasha Rakoff says men don't want to be stereotyped any more than women do.

It is not just women who are being harmed by lad mags, it's also the lads themselves. Lad mags, if they were to cater for men's real needs, should recognise men as thinking, feeling beings who need to directly bond with each other - not bond over the denigration of women.

Why not feature the men who respect their girlfriends and don't want them to have unnecessary surgery?
Lad mags encourage men to view women as inferior, thus perpetuating a culture of contempt against women. Magazines for men and boys could instead focus on the experiences of men and boys. They are the ones that should be on the front cover - as once used to be the case.

Lad mags contribute to a culture of hyper-masculinity where all but a few men fall short. Boys' insecurities about what it means to grow up as a man are exploited. Lad mags speak to men and boys as if they were sexually voracious and callous ape-like subhuman brutes, and encourage them to live up to this stereotype.

The Teenage Magazine Arbitration Panel tightly regulates the sexual content of teen magazines for girls and recognises the importance of magazines in the sexual and emotional development of teenagers.

Lad mags could educate too...

Page 3 girl Keeley
Page Three girl Keeley
Men should appreciate when they are looking at lad mags that the women's bodies are usually manipulated by airbrushing. Every bump and blemish is removed by the magic of Photoshop.

Instead of running competitions offering breast enlargement for readers, why not feature the men who respect their girlfriends and don't want them to have unnecessary surgery? Take a gruesome look at the realities of plastic surgery, show the actual procedures, and what happens when it goes wrong.

Or men could write about the real life experiences of their girlfriends in the glamour modelling business. They send their pictures into Nuts and Zoo thinking they will make lots of money. The reality is that often women are not even paid until their third or fourth photo shoot.

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By Jacky Fleming, cartoonist


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The New Lad Magazine was edited by Finlo Rohrer

Here are a selection of your comments.

Maybe I'm old before my time but as a 26 year old male, I've never seen the attraction. The articles are usually scripted by lazy, second-rates hacks from recycled press-releases, and are only of interest to little boys and soccer-loving boneheads that lack the cognitive capacity to pick up a broadsheet. Even the "sex" aspect is childish and hackneyed. If you're really that desperate for filth, pick up a porno instead - at least they're honest!
Ross Brown, London

I don't agree with the articles assessment that its only men that degrade women; but I do think that these lads mags should be put away on the top shelf or better yet done away with completely. After reading the absolute drivel that was stuffed down my throat from girls and women¿s mags; I decided never to buy or read or pay them any attention again. I couldn't get away from lads mags; they portray a seedy image of women to all teens. The nudity doesn't bother me, why should it? I see a woman's body every morning. What bothers me is the sub culture these magazines create and promote. The one that states if I wear an outfit that shows the remotest bit of flesh that¿s all there is to me.
Kathy, Stockton

Tom in London - it is all very well to say that parents have a duty to restrict children's access to unsuitable material. In practice that would mean blindfolding them before going into the shops. I hope that one day you find yourself having to explain what the two naked ladies on the front of the magazine are doing to each other to a 3 year old. Good luck when it happens.
Mhairi, Glasgow

I agree that lad mags should be regulated. But this article really isn't particularly constructive or helpful. If it was meant to be funny I'm sorry, in every imaginable way. As someone already commented, there are plenty of women's magazines that contain the same mind-numbing superficiality. Maybe run an article entitled 'What if... lads took over Heat magazine.' It would contain 6 articles in which a picture of a female celebrity without makeup is shown with the title 'yuck!' and each would have the writer simply saying 'I'd still have sex with her.'
Robert Jones, Hampshire

Who gives a damn? If you don't like it, don't read it! Why do people have to "analyse" and "intellectualise" everything. Most of the things in these mags are tongue-in-cheek, so why do people take them seriously?
Jeff Newman, Higham Ferrers

My girlfriend didn't believe me when I told her that FHM has a fashion and grooming section. I don't always want to read high brow publications.
Dave, Manchester

You all seem to be missing the point here. It is not whether the magazines should be sold, or should change their content, but whether the vendors should place them age-appropriately. Have all the T&A you want, but for the sake of future sanity please let's make sure the under 10s don't get the wrong message. as for "they're bought, so the market must exist" argument, which came first? the desire for legal porn, I'd say.
Pete, WGC

"Lads Mags" are trashy rags, nuff said. However how are they any worse than your average tabloid newspaper? Every day I see men, women and children reading copies of The Sun, a sexist newspaper whose political stance is somewhere to the right of Hitler, and yet no one seems to worry about its impact on society. Only the other day a 16-year-old female collegue of mine went on a rant about how "all immigrants and asylum seekers should be rounded up and deported" because The Sun said so... Surely this is infinely more alarming than a few "lads mags" on the middle shelf?
Rob, Bath

This is so right. And as a woman, I especially object to shops where these sort of magazines are placed with the film and music magazines in a 'mens' section, while the 'womens' section includes Heat, Thats Life and Chat - parodies of themselves. Its as if women are only interested in the mundane lives of twiglets like Posh, and never go to see a film or listen to music. This happens even in big chains such as Borders.
Lizzie, London UK

This whole thing has been blown remarkably out of proportion, men often enjoy looking at pictures of attractive women. There isn't any conspiracy to "dehumanise women" or turn men into "ape-like subhuman brutes" the only problem with these magazines is when they are taken to seriouisly. Some people here need to relax.
Arthur, London

You can create all the educational men's magazines you want, with uplifting articles and helpful advice - trouble is, no man is going to buy them - not when he can pay a couple of quid to see photos of naked female celebrities.
Rob, Warwick

How dare Claire Curtis-Thomas try and 'hide' men's magazines. If a male MP tried to get women's magazines banned, there would be outrage. A lot of the jokes and stereotyped comments in women's magazines are offensive. Do men ever complain? It's not like there's many men's magazines anyway.
John Link, Colchester

It is well known that when women are looking for a mate they look for aggressive males who are most likley to successfully rear children. Men whose faces show high levels of testosterone are seen as far more attractive, and such men are usually dominant and "laddish" individuals. The attitude of these magazines is of a similar tone as this is how men are told to act to seem attractive,(and we are generally told this by women.)So this behavior is maintained by most young men at almost all times in an attempt to seem virile and worthy. The culture of this country would have to change significantly for such magazines and ideals to dissappear. Although I doubt they would as they are biologically ingrained.
Gary, Bletchley

It is clear that the images portray what the editors believe to be an ideal woman. OK but they portray women of all different shapes and sizes the only thing they don't show is women who are overweight and with the current obesity problem we have in this country surely presenting such an ideal can only be a good thing.
James, Leeds

Tell you what BBC News website, why don't you publish a sanctimonious, self-righteous and intolerably smug article written by a bunch of sexist women who clearly think of men as unfortunate and inferior beings, unable to think for themselves and needing to be nannied through their pathetic lives. Yes, why don't you give them yet another opportunity to tell the world how they would make people think if they could.

I have never ever bought any lad mag of any description but reading this article makes me want to go out, buy myself a copy of the latest issue of Zoo and get in touch with my inner callous ape-like subhuman brute.
N. Underwood, London

Please, self regulation is the future. Quite simply if you don't like it, don't read it. Secondly, if the content isn't suitable for children, then this is the duty of parents to restrict access, not the duty of the magazines.
Tom Young, London

Kate Smurthwaite makes a good comment regarding tips that apply to 'real women'. I'd like to extend this 'real' definition to apply to men also. Her list of tips are obvious to say the least, and most men would follow these explicitly especially in a semi-formal courting encounter like a date. However, most one night stands (to my knowledge at least) occur in a club environment where women and men are equally as guilty of heavy drinking, in clubs it¿s very difficult to make friends and very rarely does this seem to be the aim of the game for inebriated women and men to make lasting friendships. Perhaps some advice for women would be to remember that (generally) there is nothing to be scared of men (as well) and we are generally not ¿mace wielding Neanderthals¿, just be more careful who you dance with, generally the man who's figuratively thrusting their groin in your face isn't going to be a 'real man' just look around.
Daniel Dryden, York, UK

You would think with all the problems in the world an MP would direct their efforts to a more worthwhile cause. This issue of degrading women in lads mags is a drop in the ocean when compared to what kids have access to on the internet.
Tony McCann, North Lanarkshire, Scotland

Pop put it best: The best things in life, the box of Milk Tray, the dirty magazines - they are all on the top shelf, you have to reach for them
Russell, Nottingham

I wonder how most men would feel if the roles were reversed and they were faced with pictures of hunky, toned men displaying their large penises every time they walked into the newsagent? The problem with these magazines is that they encourage men to see women as sexual objects and this manifests itself in society in all sorts of ugly attitudes to women - not only in statistics on rape and other sexual offences but also in a pervasive misogyny that the BBC itself perpetuates in its crass populism, its slanted coverage and its light-hearted attitude to this very serious issue.

I'm thoroughly fed up with the editors of FHM, Zoo and Nuts - as well as, tacitly, the BBC - claiming that we live in a liberal society and so these images should be allowed. They grossly misunderstand liberalism - it's not about the selfish disregard for and exploitation of others but an open-mindedness coupled with sensitivity and above all responsibility. The mainly aggressive and affronted responses on this issue indicate a lack of sensitivity, a lack of responsibility but most of all plain stupidity.
Daniel, Cambridge

Everyone involved in culpable. Without the women to pose in these magazines there would be no such magazines. Don't just criticise the males who buy these mags. Save some criticism for the women in them who are instrumental in degrading your own sex. The whole decline of British society is very depressing.
Pete, Bath

Just the usual prudish nonsense a la Mary Whitehouse. These women writers are way behind the times. Today's young women want to be seen in these magazines. The ladette culture is the natural progression from the women's liberation of the 60s and 70s. These magazines simply cater for the "lads" who're the male equivalent of the ladettes.

It's no coincidence that the likes of Zoo and Nuts have a constant stream of topless former Big Brother contestants. This is modern culture which reflects the liberation of women and is, as I said, a result of the women's liberation movement. I'm sure that flashing their boobs in these magazines is pretty profitable for them. Certainly beats working for a living. Would the women writers above seek to deprive them of their livelihoods?
Jim, London, UK

Can't you do the same for womens magazines! Womens magazines degrade women further by making them feel awful about their weight, clothes, cellulite and the fact they are not glamorous footballers/movie stars wifes. Nuts is childish I agree but Heat and closer are soul destroying bitchy publications. What's worse?
Adam Leah, London

The pictures on the front of lads mags dont harm kids any more than the big wonderbra adverts etc that you get on billboards. And they dont harm kids - at the end of the day, we were all born naked, and we're all going to see these things one day or another. As for the content of these magazines, a lot of it is tabloid nonsense, but if people want to read it, where's the problem?!
Andy, Solihull

There used to be an excellent lads mag called Jack, actually more suited to men in their late 20s and 30s. Jack as a magazine my wife and I enjoyed reading. It did have nudity, it did talk about many subjects including sex but it was "high-brow". It was killed off by cheap and horrible magazines such as Nuts and Zoo. Kill Nuts and Zoo and bring back Jack I say.
Pascal Jacquemain, Welwyn Garden City, UK

Presumably there must be a market for these magazine otherwise they would not exist, or persist. I struggle to believe that they have created the type of 'lad' who is the target audience, therefore they must have already existed. If they already existed then what harm can the magazines be causing? I suspect the true market lies amongst the immature, underdeveloped and shy who are either too timid to pick up what they perceive as full-on porn, or buy the mags as a symbol of their macho status. In both cases their future contribution to the gene pool must be in doubt.
Bradders, Bristol, UK

I personally would not buy any magazines aimed at women or men but I have read them and sometimes wonder if you gave an intelligent alien a pile of these to read, in order that they were able to assess the human race, what kind of assessment would they make? I should think that they would end up very puzzled!
Elaine, Purley

Just a comment to Christopher Wills, the fashion and beauty industries are run by men who make a lot of money out of making women feel inadequate with their appearance. How many top designers are female - only a handful. Yes, the models involved make money but only a few make serious amounts of it. Those getting rich from the whole process are male dominated corporations.
Liz, Norwich

Age old comment but, if women find these images offensive why do they collaborate in creating them?
Andrew Lavelle, London

All my female friends read lad mags, and all my male friends read Cosmo and Glamour - it is always interesting to see your gender as the other gender is supposed to see it. Are we subverting the whole process?
Jimbob, Manchester

I agree that young children shouldn't be exposed to the pictures on the front of 'Lad Mags', but I do think these mags have an important role in our society - they work as a selection tool. Most women I know, on discovering that a new boyfriend reads Lad Mags, would very quickly dump them, making the idiots that read this drivel much less likley to have the chance to procreate. Thus lad mags have a positive impact on the evolution of men.
Naomi, Somerset, England

Leave us and our mags alone and while you're at it stay away from football its for blokes, alright. Its about time that women sorted out the way they behave and my advice would be wear more and drink less. And to all those non-men and feminists who would call me sexist don't bother. This is about genuine equality and not not the surrender of the male species.
Bill, Blackpool

Most blokes with an ounce of intelligence don't bother with lad-mags. The images of women propagated therein are far from 'ideal', and are indeed intimidating...think of it like this...does a rose not have a more pleasant scent than concentrated rose-scented air freshener?
Pete, London

There are no real magazines for men any more. GQ and Men's Health were the last bastion of the grown up man, but even they have now slipped into the "Drive her wild with these best sex tips" abyss. Unfortunately I fear that even if there was a magazine aimed real men as opposed to the lager swilling, babe ogling, six-packed lad, it probably wouldn't sell.
Martin Neville, Bristol, UK

Kate Smurthwaite's article is interesting but based on wishful thinking. In my experience many women actually do want to hang out with mace-wielding Neanderthals. Time and again I watch female friends of mine ignore quiet, thoughtful and intelligent guys in favour of cavemen. If a guy doesn't make a move on them within a matter of hours of meeting, they think he has something wrong with him.

In my opinion the cards are in women's hands. Men will always want women. If women expect more of men, men will have to raise their game. But since many women actually prefer idiots and cavemen to thoughtful, caring men, the mace-wielding Neanderthals have no reason to change.
Jeremy, London

I have never purchased a 'lad mag'. I have no intention of ever purchasing a 'lad mag' either. My reason? Because they speak down to me, tell me what to say, read and wear. They even dictate what my girlfriend should look like. And if she doesn't look how they want her to, they run competitions where I can 'win' surgery for my loved one to go under the knife and look more like they want her to look. I have a mind of my own. My girlfriend has a mind of her own too; the writers and editors of 'lad mags' might be suprised to find out that this is at the top of my list of 'most attractive features'...
Russell, Reading, UK

I don't tend to buy lads mags as I find them a bit boring. But I wouldn't advocate women's mags either. What are you likely to find in a womans mag? Bitchy articles about fashon and who looks terrible this week; that and tips about make-up and sex. What is this doing to young women but reinforcing the stereotype that that's all they care about? You can't just take one part of the media and slam it- you must look at it as a whole.
Andy, Sheffield

These magazines are published just to make money.If guys are fed this kind of stuff they are going to have a different aatitude to women that is not good for a decent relationship.
Roger Hill, Beckenham UK

This sort of magazine already exists: Arena, GQ, etc., even Men's Health - all pitch themselves in this general, more mature direction. So do we need more? The 'lads mags' in question (Zoo, FHM etc.) are clearly more lowbrow...but if you change them they won't get bought by their target audience. becomes a question of censorship or eductation. I would suggest education every time - censorship will only create an 'aura' around them.
Martin W, Coventry

I agree with Jon from Bucks. Should the site not be focusing on world affairs and not sexist nonsense. Plus if we all had to adhere to the sexist rules of society then man would disappear completely. The feminists would love that. what about the real women? the ones that need men?
Billy, Coatbridge, Scotland

If I worked for one of these magazines I'd be fuming! All my readership can't reach the magazine!
Jonathan, London

I noticed years ago that the Sport used court reports of rape as titillation so that's not new (or right) and I agree with the content of some the articles being of too adult a nature for minors but I recently saw a womans mag with dozens of photo's of male private parts and several of the mainstream womans mags have a male centrefold, is this any different?
Damo, Cumbria

Why the focus on "lads' mags" only? This month's issue of Cosmopolitan offers: 100 sex-on-legs summer dresses, Orgasms unlimited: 10 steam-it-up sex moves, Real life man magnets reveal their secrets, 8 sex lessons we wish men would learn. Surely this obsession with sex and appearances is just as degrading (to women and men) as the content of Nuts, Zoo and Loaded?
Rob Stanton, Cambs, UK

Im not a bigot, i have never discriminated against women and i am very much an advocate of fully equal rights, however i see the place of the man dissapearing from society. When will you do an article looking at the way men are so often portrayed? In the majority of adverts men are portrayed as stupid, consistently poor sex partners and the character of homer simpson has become the benchmark for men. Sometimes these magazines offer a way for lads to be lads without offending anyone (directly) as so often men are left with nowhere left to turn. As in your 101 night stand guide: I played rugby: too laddish, i have been a dancer for several years: not manly enough etc. the whole quest for the metrosexual male, first (apparently) women wanted a man to take care of his appearance, then Gavin Henson and co became to feminine, it seems so often women want it both ways, they can have their jokes at the males expense but anything else is sexism.
Andy, London, England

If the roles were reversed, if there women's magazines with articles on "bloke pulling" and drinking it would be regarded as "a bit of fun" wouldn't it?
Christopher Gotch, Oxford uk

Its strange when you look at magazines from the mid 90s such as FHM the women wear beautiful dresses and only the unknown would even consider wearing just their underwear. Although these magazines are often seen as degrading women the women taking part are often well paid. Go into most night clubs and you will find women with less than appropriate weather protection for the walk home. The question shouldn't be are we degrading women's rights. But are we degrading society?
Fraser , Glasgow

Well, all pretty much humourless contributions, which, given that one is a cartoon, is quite impressive. Does feminism have to come over as so preachy and depressing? I'm no fan of Nuts and Zoo (as a woman) but at least those publications have a lighthearted, witty turn of phrase. It would be much better if any of these comments provided the same level of entertainment for readers. The point about defecating mentioned in the first comment is all about laughing at sexual habits and if you laugh at things, they aren't so scary or weird. Your prudish Ms Thomas obviously hasn't heard that it actually does happen in plenty of bedrooms!

Yes, these magazines are offensive on occasion but armed with a little sense, I think even modern men can navigate their way through without being mentally scarred. Take them in the same lighthearted, stupid way that they are intended. Trying to intellectualise them like this only makes feminists look stupid, which is a really shame.
Kinstanton, London, England

Women degrade themselves. Who runs the fashion industry? Who runs the beauty industry? Who buys the women's magazines? Women create the images that they complain about having to live up to. I don't see many in those industries complaining about the money they get paid....
Christopher Wills, Fareham

I can see many of the points trying to be made here but lads mags aren't the only things on the shop shelves with negative impacts. It is many magazines aimed at women "hello etc" that constantly have headlines about new diets and pointless stories about what the latest celebs have been up to. I personally think these kinds of magazines are worse in many ways. If they want to cover up lads mags and put them on top shelves fine but they are not the only ones with questionable content.
Dave, Nottingham

Your article is the biggest pile of sexist twaddle posing as smart writing I've had the misfortune to read all year.
Jon, Chesham, Bucks

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