As long-time readers of The Zero will know, I try very hard to be always slightly behind the times, a good few feet from the cutting edge, only vaguely aware of what the French call ‘Le Zeitgeist’. You’ll recall how a few weeks back there was a bit of media interest in the campaign against so-called lads’ mags and the lousy, exploitative, demeaning, sexualised, woman-hating culture they encourage. That interest having more or less died down it’s time for me to get writing like it’s something new. (Next week we’ll be looking at the environmental dangers of chlorofluorocarbons or ‘CFCs’).

As you’ll be aware from being alive in the world we live in, ours is a society where women are demeaned, harassed abused and murdered. There’s a sliding scale at work here, starting with wolf-whistling like a woman’s going to find that attractive, through treating women as sex objects in pornography and prostitution, through one in four women experiencing domestic violence, and ending in groping, sexual assault, rape and murder. It’s on us reasonably enlightened humans to change every step of the scale. To that end, these past few months have seen an exciting bit of do-goodery from the world of social networking. The No More Page 3 campaign, which is looking to get naked women out of newspapers as if naked women aren’t actually news, has been going down a storm thanks to Twitter, Facebook and Changes. It now has more than 107,000 signatories on its petition, including nearly half our female MPs. Similarly, the campaigns to get rape jokes and misogynistic hate crime hijinks off Facebook have been doing well, with over 50,000 people tweeting in support of the FBrape campaign organised by the likes of Everyday Sexism and Women, Action and the Media (WAM). Under their campaign 5,000 people contacted advertisers who appeared on pages promoting or minimising sexual violence, and 225,000 signed a separate petition demanding the pages be removed.

Of course, it’s results rather than participation that counts; we could have people in their millions bleating and tweeting their outrage being ignored by everyone that matters, like that bit in Ghostbusters when Rick Moranis is being chased by a big demonic dog and starts banging on the window of a restaurant and everyone goes back to eating and exploiting women horribly. Fortunately the Facebook bashing seems to be getting a response. Advertisers including BskyB, Marks and Spencer, Nationwide and Nissan suspended their advertising and Facebook, being keener on money than it is on people, shifted from quietly ignoring the campaign to getting a bit tetchy to actually agreeing to do something about its content policy. This is clictivism actually affecting some change.

So back to this lads’ mags thing. These are the magazines – yer Nuts, Yer Zoo, yer FHM – that pretend they’re not pornography by having front covers of naked women covering their nipples, that turn the crude objectification of women into an interest alongside cars, beer and football. They pander to rather than invent these cavemen attitudes, but their pandering doesn’t help much in a world that needs to get its shit together. Complain about these magazines, you get people banging on about Victorian prudishness but let’s be clear: this is not an anti-sex thing. This is an anti-sexism thing because these magazines are an anti-women thing. An amazing study from a while back mixed snippets from these magazines with quotes from convicted rapists and asked people to spot the difference. Most couldn’t. Here we’re talking the likes of “Girls ask for it by wearing these mini-skirts and hotpants” and “Girls are like plasticine; if you warm them up you can do anything you want with them”. The world doesn’t need this.

UK Feminista, a group of feminists from the UK, and Object, a group of UK-based feminists, came up with a cracker of an idea. Their Lose the Lads’ Mags campaign says employees and customers in shops selling these things are subject to sexual harassment and discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. They’re asking us to sign a petition, harass Tesco and other big retailers, and spam the hell out of our Facebook and Twitter pals to get these magazines removed. They’re supported by the likes of End Violence Against Women, Women’s Aid, the White Ribbon Campaign, Eaves, Local Mums Online, Imkaan, Aurora, Rape Crisis, Equality Now, Equals and Compass, all of whom are good types whose side you’d want to be on. Get this thing going, these magazines can go the way of tits on beer cans and the world can take another tiny step towards a future free from this kind of backward-looking dickery.

Photo credit: Christine Baker/