Feminist campaigners stage protest as lads' mags bill reaches Parliament

The feminist fightback against lads' mags culture is set to reach Parliament this month with a Ten-Minute Rule Bill and demonstration. The action on 26 June will be led by Labour MP Claire Curtis Thomas and is the culmination of six months of political lobbying by campaigning group Object, which challenges what it sees as the sexual objectification of women in media coverage.

It is expected that the campaign will be focused on the introduction of an age restriction on who can buy the titles. Currently, under National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) guidelines issued earlier this year, newsagents are "urged to be sensitive to the concerns of consumers" in keeping the titles away from children's eye level, but these are not defined as the top shelf, a crucial distinction for companies like IPC, which publishes

Loaded and Nuts, and Emap, whose titles include Zoo and FHM.

The action in Parliament is said by the group to be inspired by the work of activists including bloggers — such as Charlie_grrl — who encourage readers to complain direct to editors of Nuts and Zoo, and who are willing to name and shame newsagents selling the titles to younger teens.

A spokeswoman for Object said: "Groups like Charlie_grrl are a huge source of encouragement to the many women, and indeed many men, who are insulted, if not actually harassed, by the ‘wall to wall' porn now on display in most sweet shops, petrol stations and a great many supermarkets.

"There are an increasing number of members of the public challenging the ‘normalising of pornography' across the country — either as individuals, or groups — as an issue of sexual discrimination and indeed harassment."

Charlie_grrl, who refused to give her real name, will be using her blog at charliegrrl.blogspot.com to highlight what she said was "pornographic" materials that "are not treated as such and are promoted in high street stores without age restriction with content that is derogative".

She said listing contact details for editorial teams of Zoo and Nuts on her blog wasn't advocating harassment, but merely encouraging people to ring up and complain. The site includes pictures of the magazines being within easy reach of children or displayed on shop counters.

An IPC spokeswoman said: "These are the most popular magazines for young men in the country. It seems Object has a problem with young men.

We have no problem with their right to protest — they enjoy the same freedom of expression that we do."

Emap declined to comment.

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