What we’re calling for
We are calling on high-street shops to stop selling sexist, pornographic lads’ mags like Nuts and Zoo. Why? Because:
- Lads’ mags are harmful: Magazines like Nuts and Zoo portray women as dehumanised sex objects. By selling them in everyday spaces, shops like Tesco normalise the idea that it’s acceptable to treat women this way. Yet extensive evidence shows that portraying women as sex objects fuels sexist behaviours and attitudes that underpin violence against women. >Read more.
- Selling lads’ mags can break the law: 18 top lawyers have signed an open letter to retailers stating that exposing staff and customers to the front covers of lads’ mags can constitute sexual harassment and sex discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. >Watch BBC interview.
- Lads’ mags breach supermarket ‘no porn’ policies: Supermarkets like Tesco have official policies stating they do not stock so-called ’adult’ or pornographic magazines because they are ‘family-friendly’ retailers. Yet legal advice provided to this campaign confirms that lads’ mags such as Nuts and Zoo contain pornography.
The campaign so far
- November: Tesco is criticised in the House of Lords for selling lads’ mags. The Lord Bishop of Derby says “it normalises the offensive attitude to making women commodities and objectifying them”.
- October: A packed-out meeting in the Houses of Parliament calls on Tesco to lose the lads’ mags. Lose the Lads’ Mags hits the front page of the Observer.
- September: Lads’ mags refuse the Co-operative’s request that they be delivered in sealed bags. As a result, Zoo, Loaded, Front, Nuts and the Sport are no longer sold in the Co-op’s 4000 stores.
- August: Tesco restricts the sale of lads’ mags in its stores to over-18′s. The retailer also claims to have struck a deal with lads’ mag publishers to make the covers “more modest”. Morrisons calls for an industry-wide response. 19 protests are held across the country outside Tesco stores as part of a Lose the Lads’ Mags national day of action.
- July: The Co-operative tells lads’ mags that unless they are delivered to stores in sealed bags they will no longer be sold in Co-operative stores. Representatives of the Lose the Lads’ Mags campaign meet with Tesco.
- June: Lose the Lads’ Mags campaigners protest outside the Tesco AGM. A shareholder proceeds to ask Tesco’s Chairman, Sir Richard Broadbent, to lose the lads’ mags. Sir Richard responds by saying he was “startled” by the content of lads’ mags and says he is “willing to look at changes”.
- May: Top lawyers write an open letter to retailers stating that exposing staff and customers to the covers of lads’ mags can constitute sexual harassment or sex discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
Lads’ mags can breach equality law
Shops selling and displaying lads’ mags and papers with Page 3-style front cover images are vulnerable to legal action from both staff and customers. New legal advice obtained by UK Feminista and Object reveals that displaying these publications can constitute sexual harassment or sex discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. Employees could take action on this basis and, where the magazine is visibly on display, customers could also have a claim. 17 leading lawyers have written this open letter to retailers calling on them to lose the lads mags:
“The ‘Lose the Lads Mags’ campaign by UK Feminista and Object is calling on high-street retailers immediately to withdraw Lads’ Mags and papers featuring pornographic front covers from their stores. Each one of these stores is a workplace. Displaying these publications in workplaces, and/or requiring staff to handle them in the course of their jobs, may amount to sex discrimination and sexual harassment contrary to the Equality Act 2010. Similarly, exposing customers to these publications in the process of displaying them is capable of giving rise to breaches of the Equality Act.
High-street retailers are exposing staff and, in some cases, customers to publications whose handling and display may breach equality legislation. Displaying Lads’ Mags and pornographic papers in ‘mainstream’ shops results in the involuntary exposure of staff and, in some cases, customers to pornographic images.
Every mainstream retailer which stocks Lads’ Mags is vulnerable to legal action by staff and, where those publications are visibly on display, by customers. There are, in particular, examples of staff successfully suing employers in respect of exposure to pornographic material at work. Such exposure is actionable where it violates the dignity of individual employees or customers, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. We therefore call on such retailers urgently to heed the call to ‘Lose the Lads Mags’.”
Aileen McColgan, Matrix Chambers
Sarah Ricca, Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors
Mike Schwarz, Bindmans
Harriet Wistrich, Birnberg Peirce & Partners
Anna Mazzola, Bindmans
Helen Mountfield, Matrix Chambers
Elizabeth Prochaska, Matrix Chambers
Tamsin Allen, Bindmans
Gwendolen Morgan, Bindmans
Salima Budhani, Bindmans
Nathalie Lieven QC, Landmark Chambers
Samantha Mangwana, Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP
Julie Morris, Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP
Emma Hawksworth, Slater & Gordon (UK) LLP
Jude Bunting, Tooks Chambers
Rebekah Wilson, Tooks Chambers
Hugh Southey QC, Tooks Chambers