Michael Grove, the shadow education secretary and a prominent Conservative in England, gave a speech today at a meeting organized by the think tank IPPR condemning lad mags (like Nuts, Zoo, and Maxim) for promoting "instant-hit hedonism" and presenting women as "permanently, lasciviously, uncomplicatedly available." The result, according to Grove, is that the magazines promote a deterioration of responsibility in young men towards women, leaving British communities with apparently the worst social situation that could ever occur: single-parent families. Yes, lad mags may present a sexist image of women, but is focusing on the importance of "male responsibility" towards women reinforcing sexist and misogynist attitudes towards women or destroying them? (A poll on the website of the Guardian reveals that, as of this morning, 54% of respondents think that lad mags do not "make men feckless".)Probably the former. Yes, families where both parents are present in the children's lives are more stable and ultimately create a better environment for children, but Grove is implying that parents need to not only be married for children to thrive, but the man needs to be working and providing ("responsibility") for his young while the woman stays home and cares for them. Why not promote a society where single mothers can provide for their children on their own? Grove says that the Conservative government will provide a maternity nurse service for families who need help during the first days after childbirth, but there is no mention of this service being available to single mothers (or fathers) who have a newborn. An emphasis is placed on the relationship between the father and mother, implying that they are together. And what does Grove think of women's magazines? While he condemns lad mags' presentation of a "narrow conception of beauty and a shallow approach towards women," he praises women's magazines (and their publishers) for addressing their readers "in a mature and responsible fashion." So, being obsessed with materialism, being fearful of any beauty "imperfection," and constantly being reminded that the attention of men is necessary to live a happy lifestyle is "mature"? Has this dude ever looked at a women's magazine? Lad Mags Linked To 'Social Ills' [BBC] 'Lads Mags' Condemned Over Images Of Women [Telegraph] Poll" Do Lad Mags Make Men Feckless? [Guardian]
I agree with him about the presentation of women in "lad mags" as "permanently, lasciviously, uncomplicatedly available." But ladymags tell us we need to be permanently, lasciviously, uncomplicatedly available too.
On another note, I have a friend that follows ladymag advice and it turns my goddamned stomach...so yes, there are people out there that seek this stuff out. She's not stupid, she's just looking for validation for her own insecurities. I think magazines (both "lad mags" and "ladymags") will provide reinforcement to people who were already going to act that way but I don't think they are in any way creating these inclinations.