Demo against WHSmith: Stop Selling Lads Mags!
Posted by charliegrrl on April 25, 2007
Saturday April 22nd, East Midland Feminists, Northwest Feminists and supporters demonstrated outside WHSmith in Leicester, calling for WHSmith to stop selling lads mags.
WHSmith is one of the biggest distributors of porn in Britain. They rarely shelve lads mags on top shelf, and rarely above their own guidelines of 1.2 metres. They promote lads mags and adult porn mags with special offers and promotional displays. They dismiss feminist concerns about lads mags stating they are merely providing customers with a choice…
The demo was a great success. Many people supported us and we collected 70 signatures for Object’s petition, calling for regulation of lads mags in the way they are displayed and sold. The demo resulted in lots of lively discussion with the public about the harm of lads mags and why we think WHSmith should stop selling them.
The management of WHSmith weren’t happy… They called the police but our demo was peaceful and legal so they didn’t hassle us.
A WHSmith employee came out to speak to us saying that WHSmith do not sell porn and they are only providing the customer with what they want. He soon regretted this after an EM Fems member took him through the porn images from lads mags and gave examples of misogynistic quotes. When faced with breasts after breasts posing in psuedo-lesbian poses, he couldn’t really deny it!
We got loads of support from teengage girls and it was great to chat to them about the negative messages lads mags give men about women and how being a glamour model is not an aspirational career.
The teenage son of one of the demonstrators and his friend came to show their support, and filmed the event, so watch this space!
High Points of the day:
WHSmith shop we demonstrated against, moving their lads mags to the top shelf, and taking many off the shelf
WHSmith employee not realising their travel shops sell adult porn mags, and being genuinely suprised by this
A Mother telling us she is fed up of her fifteen year old son being able to buy lads mags, and then had a go at the WHSmith employee for WHSmith selling lads mags to teenage boys.
Rachel having an argument with an aggressive porn-loving man, attracting quite a crowd of onlookers, and calling him a dirty old man.
A young woman signing our petition against lads mags, depsite her boyfriend telling her not to- kinda went like this…
Boyfriend criticising us saying there’s nothing wrong with lads mags
Girlfriend about to sign the petition
Boyfriend saying, ‘Don’t you dare sign that petition, what about my Nuts magazine!’
Girlfriend shouted back, ‘I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR NUTS MAGAZINE!’
It was a beautiful moment 🙂
Comments from people taking part
When my son was four, he saw the cover of FHM in Jacksons on Queens Road and asked me why the women had no clothes on, I couldn’t explain to him what these magazines were for at four, not in the middle of a supermarket
Concerned Father and Son
I felt the demo was a great success. We got the
attention of WHSmith management who now know there is
a campaign out there to get them to start taking their
retailing of lad mags seriously.
It was really encouraging the amount of support we got
from the public in general, we collected 70 signatures
to present to Head Office. Particularly encouraging
was the response from young women; I spoke to a few
women who objected to lad mags, one who worked in a
newsagent herself who was fed up with the displays of
these mags in her workplace.
Of course, there was the predicted response- largely
from men- about how women aren’t exploited because
they choose to pose for these mags and are making a
lot of money from it, and that women’s mags i.e. Cosmo
are just as bad. I spoke to one man who was with his
young child who couldn’t see the problem with these
mags, to which I asked, “So you’d be happy for your
daughter to pose for these mags for money?” to which
he replied “It’s their choice.”
On further reflection, I feel with these street
protests we can’t expect to change the attitudes of
such men. I think the most important and productive
aim is to reach out to those people- the young women-
who do agree with you but before they saw this
campaign on their high street were unaware of how to
make their voice heard about it. It’s about getting
them on side and joining us to strengthen this
campaign. And of course, getting the likes of WHSmith
to sit up and pay attention. Then the misogynists will
just have to catch up.
We can’t stop here- we’ve got to keep the momentum
going with this one, cause I feel we could make some
Michelle, East Midland Feminists
Overall, the demo was a success and provoked much needed discussion in the street about the harm of lads mags and the harm of sexual objectification of women. We plan to continue to campaign against WHSmith until they stop sellings lads mags, stop profiting from porn and sexism and stop being complicit in the normalisation of porn.
Thanks to Em Fems for organising this, Brand New Feminist and a concerned Father and son for joining us and all the supportive members of the public who joined in lively debate with men who tried to make out that men are objectified too! Thank you!