Women's chat mags:

Comparing chat mags and lads mags

Are these womens chat magazines as offensive as the "lad's mags"?

If you thought that the "lad mags" were teaching children to sexually objectify females then perhaps you should also be concerned about the effect these women's chat magazines are having on our children.

Women's chat mags select and publish stories that portray males as cruel, evil monsters and females as their helpless victims. They promote the use of horror stories of child abuse, rape, torture and murder as a legitimate form of casual entertainment and a means to make a profit. They do it from the bottom shelf of a magazine rack in the supermarket right next to the comics, or when mum takes one home and leaves it lying around for the rest of the family to see.

"DRUGGED, KIDNAPPED AND KEPT IN A TORTURE CHAMBER"

"CANNIBAL COUPLE Tortured My Girl Then COOKED Her In A Stew."

National Federation of Retail Newsagents

The National Federation of Retail Newsagents' code of practice claim to be "the voice of the independent retailer and to be recognised by the industry and government as a key and influential retail membership organisation."

It says that adult material should only be placed on the top shelf. During the "Lose The Lad's Mags" in 2013, the added that "'men's lifestyle' magazines should not be displayed next to children's titles or at a level at which they can be seen by children."

We wrote to them in August 2018 (four years after the Lad's Mags had been banned) and asked for them for their official position on these women's chat mags and to consider including them.

Finally, in August 2019, they updated their guidance on displaying magazines to include cover titles "with front covers or content that may offend some customers". They've removed the specific reference to the Lad's Mags and made the rules more generic, so they now refer to

"titles with front covers (words, pictures or photographs) that may cause concern...".

This means that almost every newsagent and supermarket in the country is breaking the guidelines on displaying the women's chat magazines. But so far, none have been challenged about this.

You can read the NFRN's guidelines, here.

Comparing chat mags with lads mags

It's useful to compare the content and appearance of the "Lad Mags" and the "Chat Mags". Both are casual-read, weekly magazines aimed at specific genders.

Headline reads: CELEB BB'S JASMINE WALTZ!

Lad Mags (aimed at males)

  • The lad mags are aimed at the male casual readers and are basically excuses to print photos of partially clothed or unclothed females.
  • They have titles like "Zoo", "Nuts", "Loaded" and "Maxim".
  • They also have articles on cars, jokes, football, sport and TV pages.
  • But mostly they like to print images of scantily clad females.
  • These images portray females as sexual objects, both desirable and accessible
  • Most of the female images on the covers are images of celebrities or professional models who were consensual and were paid for the photo sessions.


Headline reads: "DADDY RAPED ME - I was just 13 the first time"

Chat Mags (aimed at females)

  • These weekly magazines are aimed at females looking for a casual read.
  • They originally started as something to flick through during a coffee break. Indeed, some of their titles include "Chat" and "Take A Break".
  • They included such things as photos of cute animals and kids, uplifting stories, recipes, advice columns, etc.
  • But they soon developed a taste for salacious headlines. Their articles became more and more about evil men who attack, abuse, rape and murder women, children and babies.
  • If the victim was a child then so much the better.
  • Most of the stories are written as though told first-hand but they are usually ghost-written by someone else.
  • Some of the stories appear contemporary but have been dug out of the archives.
  • The images are sometimes bland, but the lurid descriptive text they use has no boundaries. They all claim to contain "100% real stories".
  • And they're the most popular women's magazines in the country.


"Lose The Lads Mags" - The National Campaign against Lads Mags

Lose The Lads Mags ran a national campaign that eventually succeeded.

  • In 2013, a dedicated website for LoseTheLadsMags was created to support a nationwide campaign designed to involve as many people as possible to get lad mags removed from public view. lt was launched in May 2013 and supported by women's rights groups and feminist organisations such as UK Feminista, Object, Rape Crisis and Women's Aid. They used relentless social media assaults and recruited celebrities, feminist groups, press organisations and trade unions. They used TV, radio and other broadcast media, to rally support. They lobbied the politicians, the supermarkets and the supermarket owners. They picketed the stores and shops and newsagents that carried the magazines.
  • Online support groups for women such as MumsNet also backed the campaign and even started their own.
  • Most of the arguments used by the campaign was based on the degrading way that the lads mags portrayed females and the bad effect it had on those who saw them.
  • The Co-Op retailers threatened to withdraw lads' mags from sale in its 4,000-plus stores unless publishers put them in sealed "modesty bags".
  • Just over a year later, the campaign succeeded in their objective of getting them treated as pornography and hidden away in sealed bags on the top shelves.
  • This still didn't go far enough for some of the protestors. Sophie Bennet, spokeswoman for the "Lose the Lad’s Mags" campaign, called the sealed covers "Misogyny Bags". Others wanted a complete ban on all the lads mags.

Only one of these institutions that supported this cause has ever spoken up against women's chat mags

The Green Party helped with the petition to get Tesco supermarkets to "Lose The Lad's Mags", but have ignored the issue of the content of women's chat mags.

"Zoo and Nuts are not just pornographic magazines. They also have a culture that makes it permissible to hate women. They are sort of fanzines for misogyny."

Romola Garai, Actress

Source: The Guardian Oct 2013

The Similarities

Both types of magazines indoctrinate members of our society - and especially, our children - to regard members of the opposite gender in damaging and degrading ways and make it acceptable to hate them. Here's a point-by-point comparison of the "lads mags" and the "chat mags".

Lad mags:

  1. Fewer than ever for sale, now.
  2. Hidden and hard to find after the campaign against them.
  3. Portray females as sexually available objects.
  4. Indoctrinates children to see females as sexual objects.
  5. Many women's groups lobbied to get them removed.
  6. Campaigns finally got them censored.
  7. Hidden in sealed bags and positioned on highest shelves.
  8. Sexually-graphic images displayed on front pages.
  9. Stores pressured to remove them from shelves.
  10. Still available but limited to top shelves in sealed bags.
  11. Condemned for objectifying females.

Women's chat mags:

  1. Millions sold every month.
  2. Dozens of different chat mags available.
  3. Portray females as helpless sexual victims and men as sadistic rapists.
  4. Indoctrinates children to see males as predators and child molesters.
  5. No objections raised about these magazines from women's groups.
  6. No control over their sale to adults or minors
  7. Openly placed on shelves down to child's eye-level.
  8. Violent, sexually-graphic headlines displayed on front pages.
  9. On display and for sale in magazine racks, countrywide.
  10. Magazines are more prolific than ever and in full view.
  11. Not condemned for anything.

Which of these types of magazine would you want your children to see on the supermarket shelves? Or are they as bad as each other in teaching children how to think about gender stereotypes?

Lads Mags: Some Examples

Here are some sample headlines from Lad Mags front covers. Their biggest headlines usually consist of the model's name on their cover along with a photo of the model. They are now only displayed on the top shelves in sealed bags that obscure their front page, apart from their title. Most lad's mags hire the same professional female models and celebrities again and again to pose for the covers for most of their issues. Some of these magazines have since been discontinued because of the subsequent reduction of sales.

Nuts: 2014 (No longer publised)

  • BILLIE FAIERS!
  • CELEB BB'S LACEY B
  • 50 REALITY TV STARS TOPLESS!
  • HELEN FLANAGAN IN HER SEXIEST SHOOT YET
  • PLUS! TOWIE'S LUCY MECK

FMV: 2015 (No longer published)

  • GEORGIE PORTER
  • RULE BREAKERS, RISK-TAKERS, REBELS, MISFITS

Zoo: 2016 (No longer published)

  • THE ONE AND ONLY - LUISA ZISSMAN
  • THE PLANET'S SEXIEST WOMAN - KATE UPTON
  • LUISA ZISSMAN'S NAUGHTY HOLIDAY STRIP!


Students Protest

THIS MAGAZINE DE-HUMANISES WOMEN - DON'T BUY IT"

The students at the Oxford Student Union placed covers over the Lads Magazines. One of the brown paper covers declares "CHILDREN ARE ALLOWED TO BUY THIS." which was ironic considering the adult contents displayed on the women's chat magazines in the next isle, which they left untouched.

"He made me his SEX SLAVE"

After the "Lose The Lads Mags" Campaign was over

As a result of the Campaign, Lad's Mags are now classified as pornography and can only be available from the top shelves of newsagents. They are also contained in sealed plastic bags that obscure the front pages.

Once the Campaign had achieved its goal of making sure that the lad's mags were either no longer sold or were hidden in sealed bags on top shelves, they lost interest in other similar agendas. Currently, there has been no interest from those who supported the "Lose the Lads Mags" campaign showing the remotest concern for any effect that women's chat mags may be having on children or otherwise.

Nor has there been any equivalent of the MumsNet campaign against the lad's mags, who presumably think women's chat mags are OK, because they're for women.

"Lose The Lads" Magicians

In 2015, the "Lose The Lad's Mags" dedicated website was repurposed to promote a "woman's only" events organiser business who were ironically proud to announce that they refused to hire any men. (Is that even legal?). They market themselves as "a fresh and exciting all-female take on the party and celebration industry". Their motto is.. "No celebration is too big or too small – Hey Presto! "Lose The Lads" Magicians can arrange them all!"

Lads Mags on display

The surviving lad's mags are now only displayed on top shelves (over 7 feet off the floor) and contained in sealed polythene bags that prevent customers from seeing the front covers or even opening the magazines.

(March 2017)

Chat Mags on display

Women's chat mags have their graphic, sexually-explicit headlines on full display right down to floor-level next to the children's products and sold to the casual entertainment of women - or to children, if they have the money.

(March 2017)

So, is it double standards?

When you compare our society's attitudes towards these two types of magazines, the message is clear - it's not acceptable to objectify women but it's acceptable to demonise men - and to teach your children to hate and fear them.

These chat mags pose a threat to our society in the same way that the lads mags did. If you believed that the lads mags were capable of changing the perceptions of how society views females, then you can see how these chat mags are doing the same thing against men by peddling their stories of violent rape, death and child abuse, specifically selected because they reinforce such a world view.

They are both corrosive assaults how society views the opposite gender and how we are made to feel about ourselves and each other. We need to treat both lad mags and chat mags in the same way and for the same reasons. Just because the magazines are aimed at a female readership doesn't give them permission to preach misandry.

If you were one of those who campaigned to get the lad mags removed for teaching children to sexually objectify females then you should also be concerned about how these women's chat magazines are teaching our children to fear and hate men. They do it from the bottom shelf of a magazine rack in the supermarket right next to the comics, or when their mother takes one home and leaves it lying around for the rest of the family to see. They use the sensational stories of child abuse, rapes and murder as casual entertainment and an easy means to make a profit.

Every day exposure to such material will only skew the view the children have of the society they live in. They'll only ever see men represented as bloodthirsty monsters who are just secretly waiting to hurt and kill them.

Help us get these obnoxious, misandric, poisonous magazines out of the sight of children and onto the top shelf and hidden in sealed bags.

See how you can help.

A word on the MumsNet Campaign.

A campaign run by parenting website Mumsnet, found enormous unease in a survey of mothers about the Lad's Mags publications and their images of scantily-clad women.

  • 82% of the mothers said they had seen covers displayed where children could see them, often on the lower shelves of newsprint displays.
  • One said: "I once had to explain to my eight-year-old daughter why there were two naked ladies on a magazine cover placed right by the queue for the till."
  • Another said: "I object to the fact that I don’t have a choice about whether my children see these images."


The survey of mothers didn't ask what their children thought about the women's magazines that described 5 year old boys getting raped or pregnant women being beheaded.

"RAPED AT 5..."

"Beheaded at 8 months pregnant"

"The SEX Edition"

More MumsNet Hypocrisy

Mumsnet called for retailers to keep 'lads' mags' out of children's sight but got into trouble when the gay lifestyle magazine "Attitude" produced a "Sex Edition" and also got hidden behind a modesty cover.

They put a retraction on their website that said...

  • "...we'd just like to make it clear that this campaign has always been about asking retailers not to display overt sexual imagery - almost always associated with 'lads' mags' in mainstream retail outlets - in children's sight. The campaign was never about re-categorising gay lifestyle magazines or calling for innocuous editions of Attitude to be hidden away."

MumsNet were quick to condemn the lad's mags for their adult content and covers but there's no sign of any similar campaign about tackling the displays on the front pages of the women's chat mags.

Finally, Here's something that speaks volumes about how unevenly we treat these magazines.

So, which of these magazines should be treated as displaying adult material?

And which one can be found next to the children's comics? (and even looks like one!)