Confessions a lads mags journo
I used to write for a lad's magazine. It was good fun but, to be honest, I was always a bit embarrassed to tell my women friends — and especially my mum - what I did.
A couple of times I thought about quitting but I enjoyed the challenge of trying to present health information in an amusing way. There was no point in quitting anyway as I knew they'd fire me before long. The writing was already on the wall for sections like mine. I watched as each month the sexy nurse picture took up more and more space on the page.
As the circulations of the men's mags peaked and began to to wobble, competition kicked in and the boob count went up. Things went ballistic when the weekly lads mags — Nuts and Zoo - were launched in 2004.
Now the mags bear little resemblance to those of ten years ago. Most blokes I've spoken to don't care. It's a little titillation and fun for kids and sad geezers, they say. So what?
But when Martin Robinson of Maxim says that 'sexual disease is a welcome source of hilarity', I have to admit it worries me. Over 700,000 people catch a sexually-transmitted disease every year in Britain. There's a chalmydia explosion in this county and an HIV one worldwide which killed three million people last year. Strange sense of humour you've got there, Martin.
He goes on: 'If people aren't aware of sexual diseases then where have they been? If they ignore what has been taught to them, then that is their choice.' Trouble is people aren't being taught anything. In Malehealth's latest snap survey 76% of respondants said that sex education at their school did not tell them what they wanted to know.
The lads mags editors say their mags aren't porn and I agree with them. That's part of the problem.
Pornography is like any other genre fiction. If you watch Midsomer Murders or read Inspector Morse, you might think that middle England is more dangerous and deadly than downtown Baghdad but you know it isn't. Crime fiction has much in common with reality but it isn't reality. Porn's the same and most people know it.
Trouble is the lads mags blur this line, especially those who feature 'real' girls and girlfriends. Presumably even the girls in the lads mags want to say 'no' from time to time. The thing is that in the mags they never do.
Porn is also for adults. Ok so loads of kids of see it. But think how many more see the lads mags which have no age restriction and no content restriction like similar women's magazines have?
Everyone who works in magazines knows that real readers are always five or even 10 years younger than the apparent target market. 'Just 17' used to be read by pre-teens. So when the lads mags say they're targeting 18-30 year olds you can bet your life they're getting a lot of teens and pre-teens too. Even if just a small proportion of these have their image of women distorted by the what they're looking at, it must be a cause for concern.
The lads mags ladies are always up for any sort of sex, anytime at all, with any number of blokes and any amount of alcoholic or other lubrication. This will not be the magazines' readers' experiences of their own relationships with women. They could interpret this mismatch in a number ways.
- they can see one as fantasy, fun or escapism and the other as reality and have no problem distinguishing the two;
- they can be unhappy that their reality doesn't match up to what they read in the mags and feel dissatisfied with themselves;
- they can be unhappy that their reality doesn't match up to what they read in the mags and feel dissatisfied with the women in their lives.
The lads mags editors appear to think all their readers fall into the first category. I just don't buy that. Even if most do, what about the rest?
Zoo is currently asking: who is Britain's dumbest girlfriend? One reader said he would be giving his a stale turd 'to go with her shit brain'. Do you think the author of that witticism is really going to get the presumably post-feminist subtleties behind the original question?
I don't believe in censorship but I do believe in personal responsibilty.
We still live in a country where it can be very dangerous to be female.
Two women are killed every week as a result of domestic violence and nearly a quarter of a million women are victims of rape or serious sexual assault every year. And what about all those women effectively enslaved into prostitution?
Martin Daubney, editor of Loaded, is proud to call himself a 'heavy drinker' — perhaps it's the only way he can sleep at night.
The author was a contributing editor to one of the leading men's monthlies in the early part of this decade.
Page created on November 1st, 2005
Page updated on December 21st, 2009