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