Do Lads Mags have a place on the Student Union shelves?

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As you walk into the student union, you notice a row of scantily clad women lining the top shelves of the magazine rack. Do you avert your gaze in repulse or do you simply look past it? (or do you pick one up and buy it?) It’s a topic that’s taken Leeds University Student Union by storm as Welfare Chief Harriet Rankin is the driving force behind heated debates as to whether ‘lad’s mags’ should be taken off the shelves of the union’s shops, after several students complained over an image in the Old Bar of a woman that they deemed offensive. The union rejected Rankins’ and other complainer’s requests to have it taken down as it would’ve gone against union policy because it’s not advertising – no I don’t understand that policy either if I’m honest with you.

This entire furore over something seemingly so minor though? After so long, one would assume the ‘Lad’s mag’ has become somewhat engrained into British culture. It’s commonly said that The Sun’s ‘Page 3’ feature has become a British institution over the years - whether it’s one to be proud of as a nation, that’s a debate we’ll put aside for another time, but it’s an institution nonetheless. Are people really that upset by these flesh-baring woman (who I’m sure are lovely people really), with barely covered norks, casting their sultry gazes over the shop from the top shelf? I have seen just as bad, if not worse, on a night out in town. The promo-girls who don skirts that could be mistaken for belts. The couple that know no shame, who are making-out on the floor of the club. Yes, it’s a dark world of debauchery out there.

Rankin says women should be able to come into the student’s union and “not feel threatened” by the images, but after speaking to a number of female friends, not one of them said they feel threatened by the women on the lad’s mags. In fact, many of them said they don’t really mind them at all. It seems as though females, in general, don’t actually care too much. Of course, some of these ladies on the front of these magazines are a man’s ideal woman, but that doesn’t mean girls have to worry about Lucy Pinder emerging from the pages of the Nuts and stealing their men... only their men’s attention. As a man, I’ve never felt threatened by the images of the male Adonis flashing his offensively perfect abs on the front of Men’s Health - Admittedly, very jealous, but never threatened.

You can see where Rankin’s views are coming from though. It may well be her traditional values creeping in. Values which I’m sure she shares with thousands of other women and men. The idea that a woman should be a ‘lady’ and not decorate the top shelf of the local petrol-garage or student union with her exposed ‘junk’ for all to see.  Perhaps it’s objectifying and over-sexualising the model on the front. After all, just under 90 years ago, it was still considered ‘sinful’ for women to show their ankles, and now this woman has bared all for the pleasure of the other sex. It couldn’t be more different. And in Rankin’s defence, if that girl on the front of Zoo or Nuts were my sister, I’d be asking her if she’d ever thought about going into another line of work, or suggest she enrols with a nunnery.

So yes, the images are degrading to a certain extent, but only to the model, not to females as a whole. We shouldn’t, and I’m pretty sure most of us won’t, assume one woman who enjoys getting her boobs out on magazine covers represents the rest of Britain’s female population. Whilst I understand where the people who object to these pictures are coming from, these women on the covers of these magazines chose that line of work. They more than likely knew that they’d be seen as degrading themselves by some women and men, and she’s probably come to terms with that, no doubt with the help of a nicely sized pay cheque. But her career choice shouldn’t affect others. 

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