SU Women’s Officers propose the censorship of ‘lads’ mags’

A Union General Meeting Motion proposing the movement of ‘lads’ mags’ in Your:Shop to the top shelf has failed to meet the quoracy and therefore was not passed, following the recent UGM vote.

Lads Mags in Your:Shop
The motion to censor lad’s mags in Your:shop failed

The “Sexist Publications” motion forwarded by the YUSU Women’s Officers, Amy Burge and Erin McAlister, on November 14, specifically targeted magazines like FHM, Nuts and Zoo and newspapers such as The Daily Star.

Burge and McAlister suggested that these publications should be displayed “where people have to seek them out to see them or to cover the pornographic images.”

The motion was based on claims that these ‘lads’ Mags’ are sexist and “often more explicit than publications classed as pornography”.

The debate centered on the issue that Your:Shop is open to a diverse range of customers, including families with young children as well as students from religions that might find the images offensive. Opposition to the motion was led by James Flinders.

Rachel Hopkins, a first year student, said the magazines would be come associated with more pornographic material and so “become more taboo.”

Tom Seal, a first year Sociology student, described the motion as “political correctness gone wrong.”

For a motion to be passed, 206 votes must be cast with a two-thirds majority in favour.
The results for votes for UGM motions show a trend of failure as a consequence of too few votes being cast.


  1. I was approached for comment on this motion a few weeks ago, however it seems that either the comments were not recieved on time or that it was decided not to publish them. Either way I feel that I ought to post my comments here in order to elucidate what I feel is a rather misguided view of the sexist publications motion submitted last week to a UGM.

    The motion has no problem with nudity or sexual explicitness and is not calling for ‘lad’s mags’ not to be sold in Your:Shop. It is simply stating its objection to pornographic images being displayed so prominently in a shop intended to be used by a wide range of students and their families.

    The motion is not the first of its kind: NUS have passed policy stating that they will actively campaign to cover up ‘lads mags’ and assist any participating student’s union if they wish to do the same in their campus shops. Tesco, Somerfield, Sainsbury’s and WH Smiths have all either covered up these images or placed the magazines on a higher shelf with other pornographic literature. (Object have run extensive research and found few differences in the content of ‘lads mags’ and those magazines officially categorised as pornographic). In fact the NFRN (National Federation of Retail Newsagents) issued guidelines this year stating that ‘lads mags’ should be sold away from children where possible and if not, covered, folded or turned over “so as to avoid offence without affecting sales”.

    This motion was written and presented to a UGM following statements and complaints the Women’s Officers received from students relating to the prominent display of sexist publications in Your:Shop. The Women’s Officers primary job role is to represent female students on campus and respond to issues that arise at York University and we feel that this motion was the correct and appropriate course of action to take under the circumstances.

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  2. “It is simply stating its objection to pornographic images being displayed so prominently in a shop intended to be used by a wide range of students and their families.”

    If the problem is with semi-nude cover photos, shouldn’t women’s, fitness and gay lifestyle mags also face the same measures if they feature a topless bloke on the front?

    “Object have run extensive research and found few differences in the content of ‘lads mags’ and those magazines officially categorised as pornographic”

    Here you seem to suggest that it is the content that is the problem, but women’s mags have equally explicit, if not more so, content. I’m not particularly for or against the rule, but it seems like ‘lads mags’ are being focused on without looking at other explicit mags.

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  3. Dear Toby,

    If you examine the motion in greater detail you will see that we have included Attitude which is a gay magazine. The examples of magazines in the motion are not intended to be definitive but to be used as a guide to the kinds of literature the motion focuses on. Of course the motion includes gay or lesbian magazines which objectify men and women in a similar way that conventional ‘lads mags’ do, and applies to all publications which use objectifying sexual material in their cover images as these are just as likely to offend those who use Your:Shop. However if you were to take a closer look at the magazines sold in Your:Shop you would see that the vast majority of magazines and newspapers that display openly sexist and sexually explicit material on the cover are ‘lads mags’.

    I mentioned the research that Object have done into both the content and cover images of ‘lads mags’ and categorically pornographic magazines in order to illustrate the similarities between them and thus recognise the need for ‘lads mags’ to be classified together with catergorically pornographic publications on a higher shelf or with the front cover images covered. Whilst this motion does not discuss the content of these publications specifically the content becomes relevant when parts of it are displayed on the front cover to reveal its content to its readership. In fact cover images on ‘lads mags’ are often more explicitly sexual than categorically pornographic magazines and often involve fantasies of violence, rape and other aggressive sexual acts.

    Those who proposed and supported this motion do not believe in censoring ‘lads mags’ as publications or passing any judgement on those who choose to read them. This motion is simply calling for the images these magazines have on their covers to be covered up or for the magazines to be moved to a higher shelf so that those images should only be seen by those seeking them out.

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