Faith In Feminism

Lads Mags: alternative outsells Loaded

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Lads mags are a hot topic in the media at the moment. I’m joined here by Steve Legg, founder of an alternative men’s magazine called SortedIts sales figures have now over-taken those of Loaded. The magazine has received a ringing endorsement from Bear Grylls who describes it as “down to earth, real and un-religious”.

// Steve Legg //

// Steve Legg //

VB: I’ve been vocal lately about how damaging I believe ‘lads mags’ are to both men and women. It’s gotten me a lot of abuse online! As well as criticising the lads mags,  I also want to speak up for the positive alternatives on the market. Your magazine caught my attention – tell us about it.

SL: Yes, I run a men’s magazine – Sorted – and I started it because I wanted my son and his mates to be able to read a magazine that wasn’t full of semi-naked women. I wanted him to understand that reading about footballers is entertaining, learning about great adventurers is exciting but that getting kicks out of looking at naked women is offensive. I wanted to reach more men and boys with that message but I also wanted the women in my life to know that there are men who want that type of magazine – who aren’t just buying their reading material for the pictures.

VB: Is it only men who write for your magazine?

SL: No, we have some great women who write for it too – and they’re appreciated for their journalism skills and their wit, not for their vital statistics.

VB: How are sales going? Do you think it can actually compete with the mainstream lads mags?

SL: From the beginning, I’ve wanted to take on the magazines that objectify women- Loaded and Nuts being two of my particular bug bears. It has been amazing to watch Sorted’s circulation rise as theirs have dropped. We now distribute more magazines than Loaded.

VB: That’s impressive.

SL: Thanks. There have been many campaigns to boycott these magazines – but I think it sends an even louder message to the market when the ‘boobs, babes and bums free’ magazine is overtaking the smut through a process of natural selection.

Sorted-Brochure

 

VB: Your magazine Sorted is strap-lined “The men’s mag with morals”. Does your religious faith come into your motivations for publishing it and the message it contains? 

SL: Yes, it’s a key part of it. I want to encourage men to be men – to learn how to be good dads, husbands, brothers, friends. At the heart of that whole process is the lesson of how to live in what I believe is a God ordained equal partnership with women.

VB: So do you feel Christianity and feminism are compatible, if ‘feminism’ is taken to mean a quest for women’s equality?

SL: I do. And if I’m honest I don’t really understand why anyone wouldn’t support the rights of women. There’s more depth to it than that of course, but on one level, what kind a person doesn’t treat everyone with respect? The thing is – I love women. Let me qualify that; I’m a dad, raising five women, a husband partnered with a simply brilliant woman and I was raised by the first women I ever loved – my Mum. Each of these women is amazing in their unique way and I love to watch them reach their potential and grow and develop and aim high.

VB: Does it frustrate you to see how lads mags promote a certain culture toward females?

SL: Yes it does! I don’t want to see women boxed in by other people’s opinions, ignored because they’re ‘just a woman’ or leered at because alongside being outstanding they happen to be stunners.

VB: Many think Christianity is a patriarchal faith – do you agree with that?

SL: No – as a Christian I’ve chosen to follow a God who, when he came to earth as man, went out of his way to honour women, who respected them regardless of their background, marital status or profession and who empowered women to go out and change the worlds they lived in, even though culturally that was incomprehensible. Jesus loved women too.

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If you’d like to check out Steve’s magazine Sorted, you can do so here.

Sorted-Issue-16

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About The Author

Vicky Beeching is a theologian, writer and broadcaster who focuses on the areas of religion, feminism and technology. She is a regular on TV and radio discussing her areas of interest. Vicky is currently doing PhD research on the ethics of the Internet, exploring how online technology is shaping society. She lives in central London.

6 Comments

  1. Bev Murrill August 16, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    It’s fantastic to see what Steve has done with Sorted. It’s a top magazine and increasingly will be recognised for more than the lack of babes. We love what Steve is doing to strengthen the life of Christ in the media world, promoting healthy perspectives of feminine and masculine relationships. Thanks.

  2. Lisa August 16, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    I’m glad to see an alternative to traditional lads mags doing well but saying women should have equal rights because ‘you love women’ and limiting them to their relationship to men as men’s children, sisters and wives is exactly what Mitt Romney did. Appreciate women as whole people in themselves and respect them for that, rather than their roles in relation to men.

  3. Mark August 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I don’t think I ever purchased a ‘lad’s mag’ but I remember when they started along with how they morphed, through competition, into being more and more explicit on the front covers. I flicked through a couple at the office once, and was struck by the silliness and what seemed like immediate ‘shock’ articles/pictures – usually various pictures accompanied by short text bursts. I can’t remember exactly, but things such as a man who had somehow got his head stuck in the nether regions of a camel – or something. A tad intellectually unsatisfying and aimed at short attention spans. And of course there were the girls, who, judging by the front covers, got stranger, bigger and falser as time went on. I think I always thought it was unsustainable and it seems like that has happened.

    While it would be good to see the back of them, it was also good to see the back of ‘heroin chic’ where models were stick thin, and promoted by fashion magazines and the fashion industry as a whole.
    That actually claimed the lives of models (and I think ordinary young girls) who were so desperate to conform to the look, anorexia took over. Luckily that was also unsustainable for the industry and they had to get rid of it.

    What still remains, however, are the fashion and possibly regular women’s magazines which have always promoted some sort of perfection that is unachievable without a lot of airbrushing. Are these just a lesser form of those other bad promotions?

    Also, some other men’s magazines can use the model/celebrity who either has a superbly defined six-pack, or again the airbrush artists have been busy.

    It makes me wonder that possibly all ages and genders are targetted in one way or another by the majority of magazines. I’d also think most people are quite sensible in their approach to all this and realise what the mags are doing, but for those who are vulnerable about themselves in some way, the mags can be a problem.

  4. Martin August 21, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    To be honest, Sallie Axl and Vicky Beeching had a brilliant debate on Twitter,

    And I soley have to agree with Sallie,
    She came up with brilliant points in saying that children can see these types of things in everyday life anyway for example on the beach,

    She also brought up a more powerful argument which is subjection to violence on the news, and what’s accessible on the Internet,

    I couldn’t agree any more

    These magazines are the minority of the problem,

    When anything can be accessed on the Internet, I think that Vickys argument can be justified if she tackled what’s easy to access online, more people access the Internet that buying these magazines…

    Once that is tackled there is nothing as accessible to these children than these magazines…

    These magazines are normally top shelf if these are the only kind of this material to gain access to, influenced children shouldn’t have a problem because they legally can’t purchase these.

    Sallie also made another great point in the accessible magazines where women are stick thin.
    She has a point in saying that because these magazines can be accessed by anyone and they’re putting the mental picture of being skinny in which most of the time results into eating disorders… So the argument has failed on itself because the normal material is just as damaging if not more.

    I think that the news reporting violence is more subjecting than what’s on a cover because like I said these lad mags are not accessible to young children but the news anyone can access and there is to much negative violence going on in the world, if this argument is on about affecting naive children then tackling the Internet and even the news maybe the best place to start not on magazines that cannot be accessed by them legally.

    • Mark August 21, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Reply to Martin.

      I’ve read the article again and children are not mentioned. You mention children five times. Maybe this is as a result of a Twitter exchange I’ve not seen, but certainly, the crux of the article is about how women are perceived in society. Maybe you could read it and comment directly on that.

      The argument about what people can see on beaches is not a good one, because people are acting naturally and, in the majority, not sexually there. Those that might be acting sexually, are not doing it explicitly, otherwise they’d be arrested. So not a great comparison.

      I’m not sure what violence on the news has got to do with this at all. I believe the point is about attitudes being affected about women, by how the mags portray them, which is a million miles away from the news showing, eg riot footage, or even war footage. What news footage were you thinking of in relation to attitudes to women?

      But both points are generally saying “we already have this, so what’s wrong with having another?”
      Which is a weak argument.

      Where I’d agree is that similar, if not worse things are available, is the internet. As far as the internet goes, there are parental controls, and the recent government proposal of opting in or out of adult material. So in that respect, there are measures that could be put in place. Part of the objection to Lad’s Mags, were the covers, and perhaps have a cover which didn’t show what is currently shown, or move to top shelves in newsagents (if they haven’t already). So measures here too. The point here, is that both can have measures to protect anyone vulnerable, but not enough, in Vicky’s view was being done in regard to those magazines.

      Where I would completely agree is the use of women in fashion magazines, where things like stick-thin models were once the thing to aim for. I’ve said this in a post above.
      Not only that, but intrusive pictures of women with cellulite on thighs. The magazines airbrush these things out on models as if it doesn’t exist..
      So yes, that is a worry, and something else to be tackled.

      I’d also say that the depiction of men in ‘Men’s Health mags’ show perfection that is unattainable to most men. So men are not immune to how magazines target people.

      Overall, I don’t think you have understood the actual argument.

  5. Martin August 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Reply to Mark:

    I have not read this article, but the Twitter debate came from this article and I was stating from what I had read on there, and the writer of this blog article included the affects it had on her as a child and how it does on children also, so that’s why I said what I did.

    Your right in saying I don’t understand the argument,
    because I haven’t taken the time out to read this article,

    But my opinions solely come from what I read on Twitter,

    I think that there is far more wrong in this world than what’s on a cover of a magazine and the nature behind it, the most explicit are always on the top shelf anyway which doesn’t really affect anyone unless they are purchasing them.

    If you went on Twitter and saw the debate between Sallie Axl and Vicky you’d understand my point, and that’s what I’m basing it upon.

    Where I spoke about the news is the fact that in the Twitter debate it got brought up as being worse seen as the things you see on a cover and that more people see the news.

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