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October 15, 2013

Green MP: Lads’ mags ‘fuel attitudes that underpin violence against women’

By Darren Boyle

An actress who played a producer on the BBC’s hit show The Hour will address Parliament today in a bid to force Tesco from selling lads' mags.

Romola Garai played producer Bel Rowley in the show based on a BBC current affairs programme.

In an interview with The Observer, Garai admitted that she stripped off for a raunchy cover shoot, but now thinks the magazines are harmful. 

Green MP Caroline Lucas invited the 31-year-old actress to address the meeting.

Lucas told Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 that these magazines have no place in a family shop.

“By continuing to sell them Tesco is sending out the message that it is acceptable to treat women as sex objects.”

Lucas branded the magazines as “sexist” and “pornographic”.

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She said: “The point we are making is these lads mags are harmful by portraying women as dehumanised sex objects. They fuel attitudes that underpin violence against women and there is something about the normalisation of this objectification of women that we think is problematic.

“That you can buy these kinds of magazines in between the clothes and the groceries in Tesco and other supermarkets gives out a signal that this kind of attitude towards woman is normal and acceptable.

Lucas said they were targeting Tesco specifically because it is the largest retailer and has its own ‘no porn’ policy.

Tesco said it had met with several of the magazines who agreed they should tone down their front pages.

She said: “The bottom line is whether you’d feel comfortable with your kids picking them up or sitting on the top of your trolley.

“I think it is the graphic and explicit illustration of women in subservient and sexualised position. It doesn’t take too much imagination to see what these are like. “

Lucas said a system similar to the watershed should be introduced protecting children from inappropriate content.

“Yes there has been discussion about modesty bags, but it still sends out the message that it is normal for these mags to be sold.”

Magazine industry trade body the Professional Publishers Association dismissed Lucas’ accusations:

 “Mens lifestyle magazines feature a broad range of content that reflects the interests of the nation’s young men. Millions of these magazines are sold across the UK every year. These titles are not defined as pornographic under an industry agreed classification system. They are however targeted at adults. We have worked with the Government and retailers to make sure there are clear guidelines in place around the appropriate display of these titles in a retail environment.”

Labour's Deputy Leader Harriet Harman added her support to the proposal. 

Speaking to ITV's The Agenda she said: "It's possible for there to be a view and to have a campaign without being accused of banning something.

"I think that women in the 21st century can aspire to more than being sex objects for the titivation of men.

"Would you like your daughter to be on the front page of Zoo or Nuts or Loaded?

"It is a very powerful image that a woman's value increases with the lack of clothing that she's wearing. Don't accuse me of trying to ban it, I'm just against it."

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