I was on ITV’s Daybreak this morning for an item about lads mags – you know the ones: big naked tits, bums and ‘come hither’ pouts on the cover to distract from the dizzyingly high intellectual content inside – and whether or not they should be displayed on high shelves, or even be completely covered, so that very young children don’t have them thrust into their open-mouthed faces while they’re out with Mum buying a pint of milk.
“Mummy, why is that lady wearing no pants, sticking her boobies out and sucking her finger?” is not a question most of us fancy answering in the Co-op.
Watch the debate first (in which I kick some serious mother hen butt) and I’ll list a few of the points there was no time to make in the allotted 2 minutes of air time, afterwards:
So there you have it. People who don’t think 7-year-olds should have naked tits and arse displayed next to Thomas the Tank Engine and CBeebies magazines are man-haters, over-protective mother hens, and bullies for picking on the ‘easy target’ of a multimillion-pound magazine industry.
And there I was, silly me, thinking we were sensible, intelligent, cultured and responsible adults trying to let our children be children, and raise them to respect not only other people, but also themselves.
And to know that women can wear clothes too…
Point is, this story isn’t about trying to ban lads mags, or porn. Nor is it about man-hating (oh those poor men, having to reach above the recommended 1.2m height where the soft porn is shelved, before they can knock one out) or being over-protective.
My kids know a pair of naked boobs and a bottom when they see one, I can assure you.
It’s merely a case of saying that some things are for adults only, and have no place in a child’s world – just as used to be the case when Top Shelf mags were just that.
The argument that ‘sex is everywhere, you can’t hide them from it all’ is as weak as saying ‘chocolate is everywhere, I can’t not eat it all’ (which some of us try from time to time, obviously… )
Of course they will see sexually provocative images – it’s almost impossible to walk down a street without a gaping cleavage jumping out at you from a passing bus. And that’s before you see the advert on the side.
But surely if we can minimise the onslaught of images of women being portrayed as sex objects, and of gaining power, status and adoration by flashing their bum cracks rather than their fierce wit, we should have a go?
Rather than asking ‘why should these magazines NOT be within children’s reach’ I’d much prefer to have asked ‘why SHOULD they’?
If we’re going to put soft porn next to Peppa Pig, why not have lap dancing clubs in children’s soft play areas? It’d be great: Little Billy can play in the ball pit while Billy’s dad can pay with his balls. Everyone’s happy.
And the same goes for some newspapers and women’s mags, incidentally, whose covers are now littered with sexually suggestive or downright pornographic images, and stored either at child-height or on the floor.
I’m not sure I want my 10-year old daughter to pop to the shops for a copy of Charlie and Lola magazine and come back asking what multiple orgasms are, or why one would want to keep a man satisfied all night.
“Couldn’t he just…go to sleep, Mummy?”
And as for saying ‘well, it’s always been OK until now. I don’t see what’s changed suddenly’, how about thinking about every revolution or positive change in the world that has ever happened, and imagining if all those who fought for change and improvement had that attitude.
‘Well, that brutal dictator has been in power for ages – why the big fuss all of a sudden, eh?? On we go…’
Finally, to the say that the 1.25 million monthly users of Mumsnet are a ‘small minority’ just having a bit of a girly whinge to cause trouble really is quite funny. Because this tiny minority has just made the biggest supermarkets in the country – worth billions – jump to keep them happy.
And a good thing too. Because they are right.
Well done Mumsnet. And well done all of the shops who are moving the lads mags up a few shelves, or covering them. Come on WHSmiths. Time to get on board and stop putting soft porn in front of primary school kids, eh…