On lads’ mags, consent, post-feminist “empowerment” (“post-feminist” should really be in scare quotes too), and the mainstreaming of sexual violence against women and girls.

Susan Hopkins (Lecturer in Communication at University of Southern Queensland) and Jenny Ostini (Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Digital Futures and Personalised Learning) at University of Southern Queensland) write on the conversation:

Mainstream men’s magazine Zoo has generated outrage in recent weeks. It’s been accused of “promoting rape culture” by, among other grubby things, educating young men on how to coerce drunk women into sex.

While extreme sexism is nothing new in men’s magazines, the problem, according to activists such as Laura Pintur of Collective Shout, is that these new style lads’ magazines are on sale and open display in “family” supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths.

Pintur is campaigning to remove Zoo from the supermarket shelves and out of the realm of easy accessibility. The campaign has already attracted more than 35,000 supporters.

The outrage engine

Zoo is revelling in the controversy – which is its stock in trade.

Only last month Zoo also caused outrage by managing to sexualise Anzac imagery with a bikini model holding a poppy and the title “lest we forget”.

In the interview component of this photo story, the Anzac bikini model declares her passion for soldiers: “They’re bad arses, they have guns.“

The most recent issue of Zoo is equally provocative with its cover story on “the most evil phone apps ever!” It promises its young male readers “sex!” and “violence!” among other things.

In the photo story “Filthy Rich” in this issue, the narrative which accompanies the soft porn imagery is of an apparently wealthy and well educated young woman who studied at “one of Britain’s most expensive private schools” yet who chooses her own objectification because it makes her feel like a “star”. She’s quoted as saying: Women are always going to be objectified and I’d rather it was me doing tasteful shots like these than some of the horrible stuff you see on the internet.

Ironically, the Zoo glamour model is not naked here – she is clothed in an increasingly ubiquitous post-feminist story of empowerment. She makes a claim that she is in control of her own objectification.

Of course all interpretations of “taste”, even and especially in a magazine such as Zoo, speak to power relations of both gender and class. Such language and imagery is also illuminating because it speaks to both post-feminist discourses of sexual choice and sexual power as well as the shifting cultural landscape of media forms.

Mainstreaming sexual violence

Magazines such as Zoo not only reproduce and legitimise sexist and predatory views of sexual violence and gender roles. They also make such attitudes seem normal and acceptable.

[…] Laura Pintur’s accusation that Zoo reproduces “rape culture” is particularly insightful because of the emphasis on cultural and socio-political contexts of these media texts. The implied understanding is that sexual violence is woven into the very fabric of our wider society and culture.

It is not just mens’ magazines that mainstream and eroticise sexual violence.

Source and rest (the conversation): Lads’ mags, sexual violence and the need for feminist intervention


p class="wordpresspost">(Excerpt etc. first posted on feimineach.com. Orig. attribution above.)

Lads' mags, sexual violence and the need for feminist intervention