Press release from UK Feminista and Object
For immediate release
Contact: 07775 855037 or 07450 429814
Feminist campaigners will target Tesco’s AGM on Friday (28/6/13) to urge the retailer to stop selling pornographic lads’ mags (1). Shareholders of the UK’s biggest retailer will be asked to tell Tesco to drop publications like Nuts and Zoo from their stores because they fuel attitudes underpinning violence against women, and exposing customers to them can constitute sexual harassment or sex discrimination under the Equality Act. The AGM protest is part of the Lose the Lads Mags campaign lead by Object and UK Feminista (2), and comes shortly after Tesco pledged to meet the campaigners to discuss their concerns.
Tesco is under fire for selling pornographic lads’ mags because research shows they fuel sexist attitudes and behaviours (3). Thousands of people have called on the retailer to take action through an online petition and social media, while organisations backing the campaign include End Violence Against Women, Imkaan, Equality Now, Local Mums Online, Gransnet and writer Natasha Walter.
18 top lawyers specialising in equality and discrimination law have also signed an open letter calling on retailers to lose the lads’ mags (4). They write that selling and displaying lads’ mags and papers with Page 3- style front cover images can constitute sex discrimination or sexual harassment. Employees could take legal action on this basis and, where the magazine is visibly on display, customers could also have a claim. As the UK’s largest retailer, the implications for Tesco are substantial. Tesco operates 3146 stores and employs over 300,000 people in the UK (5).
A female employee of Tesco said:
“I hate that Tesco sells these mags and papers like the Sun and the Star. In the store I work in there is a laddish culture and I don’t think having these magazines help that, especially as Tesco provide the Sun and the Star in the staff canteen and there is only so many times you can biro a bra on the Page 3 girl.”
Kat Banyard, founder of UK Feminista, said:
“It is no longer acceptable to have ‘girly calendars’ on office walls because they create a sexist and degrading environment for female employees and customers. So why, then, does Tesco think it’s OK to expose staff and customers to degrading, pornographic lads’ mags – the modern day equivalent of ‘girly calendars’ – in their stores?”
“Tesco insists it is a ‘responsible corporate citizen’. Yet stocking sexist, degrading ‘lads mags’ that create a conducive context for violence against women is at fundamental odds with corporate social responsibility. Not only that, it can breach the law. Tesco claims on its website that it wants to “always do the right thing, to inspire and to earn trust and loyalty from all of our stakeholders”. If that’s really the case, they’ll lose the lads’ mags. Because when it comes to sexism – every lads’ mag helps.”
Sophie Bennett, Campaigns Officer for Object, said:
“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. This has incredibly negative implications for the way women are viewed and treated. Portraying women as dehumanized sex objects contributes to the creation of a context in which discrimination and violence against women is acceptable. It’s time for Tesco to listen to both their staff and customers and lose the lads’ mags for good.”
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:
“This campaign is a brilliant way to show retailers and publishers that the public will not stand for casual misogyny any longer. Young women should not have to walk past images which show them as passive sex objects and legitimate targets for male sexual aggression every day, as they do now. Lads’ mags are not ‘banter’, they repeat damaging sexist ideas and objectify women. We urge retailers to take note of this campaign and act to remove these magazines before they face a full legal challenge.”
For more information and to request interviews please contact Kat Banyard (UK Feminista) on 07775 855037 / firstname.lastname@example.org or Sophie Bennett (Object) on 07450 429814 / email@example.com
Notes to editors
1. UK Feminista and Object will stage a protest outside the Tesco PLC Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Friday 28th June, from 10.00-11.00am. The Tesco AGM is being held at The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE.
2. UK Feminista supports women and men to take action for gender equality. Formed in 2010, the organisation has rapidly become one of the UK’s leading feminist organisations and a powerful mobilising force. www.ukfeminista.org.uk
Object is an award-winning human rights organisation that campaigns against the sexual objectification of women and girls in the media and popular culture. www.object.org.uk
The Lose the Lads’ Mags campaign is calling on retailers to stop stocking and displaying lads’ mags and papers with Page 3- style front cover images: www.losetheladsmags.org.uk
3. The American Psychological Association (APA) report that viewing media which portrays women as sex objects leads people to become significantly more accepting of gender stereotyping, sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, and rape myths. The APA also reveal that men are more likely to treat women as sex objects and their behaviour towards women is more sexualised after exposure to sexualised media.
The Government-commissioned Sexualisation of Young People Review found: “<lads’ mags> promote an idea of male sexuality as based on power and aggression, depicting women as sex objects and including articles that feature strategies for manipulating women.”…“The evidence gathered in the review suggests a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm.”
4. The open letter to retailers is available to view at http://www.losetheladsmags.org.uk/about. It is signed by 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 and Laura Carstensen.
• The Tesco board has eight men and three women on it: http://www.tescoplc.com/index.asp?pageid=79
• There are 14 men and three women on the Tesco Executive Committee: http://www.tescoplc.com/index.asp?pageid=172
• Tesco’s three core values are:
“No one tries harder for customers”
“We treat everyone how we like to be treated”
“We use our scale for good”