The issue of whether selling and displaying ‘lads’ mags’ in YUSU-run Your Shop is acceptable, has been brought into contention once again.
The question was raised at the Liberation, Diversity and Welfare Committee meeting on the 26th January by the Women’s Officers and other members of the committee.
Union members present at the meeting argued that the sale of the ‘lads’ mags’ in Your Shop should stop on the grounds that it equated to YUSU profiting directly from the objectification of women.
Other members of the committee disagreed however, expressing the view that the sale of the magazines did not constitute profiteering and that it should continue.
Criticism of the committee’s position soon emerged on social networking sites. Nell Beecham, one of YUSU Women’s Officers, tweeted that by supporting the sale of the magazines, the Liberation, Diversity and Welfare Committee appeared, “in favour of [the] objectification of women.” Beecham also added that members of the committee’s defence amounted to them suggesting that “YUSU profiting from the objectification of women’s bodies is okay because guys can’t be arsed to walk to WHSmith.”
Women’s Officer Nell Beechem believes the motion is necessary, and told Nouse: “This is not a debate about whether or not an individual should buy these magazine, we believe if an individual so desires they are perfectly entitled to walk to a local newsagents and purchase such material.
“But in an institution which aims to value each student for their mind and intellectual capability, we must then ask why it sees fit to profit from the sexualisation and objectification of 50 per cent of them.”
The issue of whether ‘lads’ mags’ should be displayed is long contested, dating back to 2006.
In that year a motion was proposed for the movement of adult content, specifically publications such as FHM, Nuts and Zoo, to the top shelf. The motion failed to meet the quoracy, and was defeated.
In the following year, a new motion was submitted by the Women’s committee, prompting Your Shop to agree to the concealment of adult content. Over time however, the agreement was not effectively upheld, prompting a new motion in May 2011. The motion, attempting to re-establish the agreement of 2007, failed, being defeated by 496 votes to 412.
Neil Webb, a first-year History student, said he did not view the sale of the magazines as a problem: “The women featured in the magazines have consented to their image being sold in that context.” He added that: “It is not just women who are ‘objectified’ in magazines.”