January 8, 2015
Location: Coles – one of the major Australian supermarket chains.
Area: Magazine Section
In the past I have merely done this:
But today – Wed 7th Jan – I decided I would say something, when I saw this on the second lowest shelf:
I wrote to Coles to explain my experience in one of their stores:
In my visit to a Sydney Coles store this afternoon, I went past the magazine section and saw Zoo magazine (imaged attached) on the second lowest row – small child height – next to Peppa Pig. I asked a worker who was in the same aisle, who I could talk to about it and he directed me to go to the front desk. My children and I had a few items to buy so I asked the employee serving us in the express lane. I believe she was in a managerial position as she was making announcements over the speakers to coworkers. I explained what I saw and she said that everything had to be placed where Coles says and that there was nothing employees could change in terms of an item’s location – in this case, to put Zoo magazine high up (top) on the shelves. She showed me an example of this with a nearby drink refrigerator; pointing out the sticker which clearly indicates EXACTLY how it must be stocked. She also explained that a recent visit from the person who checks that it’s done properly, was VERY unhappy because it was incorrectly stocked. We – the Coles manager and myself – then moved to the magazine section and when we looked at the labels along the shelves (indicating where every magazine should be) – not one magazine was in its correct place. She removed the magazines and I trust (and hope) that the Zoo magazine ended up being placed high – if it has to go back at all. It would be fantastic if Coles takes the lead and sees the good removing magazines like Zoo from sale would do. It takes a village to raise a child and supermarkets – like Coles – are a part of that village. It also takes integrity. Consumers who want to see sexually, objectified women can access it everywhere – but it feels culturally oppressive when a magazine, sporting the image of a sexually objectified woman on a cover that matches its contents, is being sold at a supermarket chain, like Coles – placed low on its shelving. There were multiple copies of the magazine behind one another, so it was purposely placed there. Do you think it would be possible for Coles to stop selling Zoo magazine and any other magazines of its type? (In this particular store the only objectifying magazine that was on sale was Zoo, so I don’t know if there are others). Thank you so much for your time and consideration, and look forward to hearing from you. Paula Orbea
The following is a cartoon I’ve seen cross my Timeline from time to time, which asks a crucial question:
Right? Another moment worth noting, was the response the managerial employee gave me when I was suggesting the magazine shouldn’t really be sold there in the first place. Her expression was one of raised eyebrows, looking at the cover, coupled with an expression (small smile?) that suggested it ‘wasn’t that bad’ – and said:
“I reckon you see worse on TV.”
“Yes”, I agreed, “but that’s a whole different issue.”
I don’t understand that kind of statement as an argument; that there’s something worse. There’s always something worse, and then something worse than that. And then worse than that.
That sort of statement argues that one shouldn’t stand and confront the ‘small stuff’ – like the soft porn industry, in this case; an industry that is heavily guiding younger and younger people toward an ocean of porn online (including terribly violent ones) – because there are *other* problems deemed more important for an activist attend to first…generally something in the ball park of, ‘Stop ISIS’ or ‘Get the girls from Nigeria back’.
What I find curious is how people who do *nothing*, suddenly presume themselves the Traffic Cops of Activism. In this case, the Coles employee removed the magazines, for the sole reason that they were in the wrong place. If it were to turn out that the Zoo magazines’ location – assigned by Coles – is smack bang in the middle of them all, I know that this employee would have put them in their ‘rightful place’ – as that is her directive. I’d like to add that this employee was courteous and professional in her conversation with me and that I appreciated her attention on the matter.
As I think of Maria in The Sound of Music teaching the children (through song, of course), about starting at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start – so must we. That is the only way change can truly occur – by getting to the roots of behaviour and action.
So have a look for yourselves – in the everyday world you and young people reside and ask:
Question #220 : What’s going on at ground zero?
What lessons and attitudes are being taught through consumption? Well, the selling of ‘soft porn’ (aka porn culture) in supermarkets is one thing, wouldn’t you say?
PS This is the response I received from Coles:
Dear Ms Orbea
Thank you for your letter regarding the sale of magazines in our Coles stores.
Coles aim to provide customers with a wide range of products that appeal to a broad range of consumer tastes. We are very aware of our responsibilities in relation to the display of various magazines in our stores and we must comply with the guidelines set by the Classification Board and legislative requirements regarding the selection and placement of various magazines.
Magazines such as Zoo and FHM, do not have a classification rating, as set by the Classification Board, and form part of our men’s interest range of magazines.
Coles only sell magazines that are unclassified and to help ensure a comfortable shopping experience for all customers, these particular men’s magazines must be placed in our reading centres within our stores and are not to be sold from the stands next to the registers.
We are sorry to hear that you find these magazines offensive* and have forwarded your comments to our Merchandise Team so that they are also aware of your concerns.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to your future custom at Coles.
Coles Customer Care
*[Doesn’t sound like an apology]
September 11, 2013
Rapists or Lads’ Mags?
That’s the question.
I have always discussed how degrading and misogynistic magazines like ZOO are to our world and have also let you know that together with my partner in crime, Lily Munroe – with the strong support of Collective Shout and people such as Steve Biddulph – we are close to launching a sister campaign to the UK’s Lose the Lads’ Mags, here in Australia.
These magazines have now crossed the line and I’m over the clichéd arguments: Yes, porn has always existed. Yes, you can see a woman on the beach in a bikini. But my favourite has to be when a man responded to me on Twitter by likening a man with a bare chest on a Men’s Health magazine, as being in the same league of objectification as this:
Snore. These covers are now the gateway to what’s inside because women are not only being exploited and objectified in the images on the covers and on the pages inside – it’s also how women are being talked about. A gentle reminder (which is in the ZOO link above) was when ZOO asked its followers to pick a ‘half’:
But there’s more – there’s violence. Talk of violence against women – in magazines with NO age restrictions. It’s Rape Culture. It’s Porn Culture.
All of our rights are being exploited by having them so readily available.
Psychologists from Middlesex University and the University of Surrey discovered that the line between comments from convicted rapists and ones made in Lads’ Mags, were starting to blur. The following article explains: Are sex offenders and lads’ mags using the same language?
Question #182: So – do you think you can tell the difference?
Leading up to the launch of our Lose the Lads’ Mags sister campaign in Australia we have compiled our own list of quotes taken from Lads Mags such as Zoo, Maxim, FHM and Picture as well as interviews with convicted rapists.
*** Take the quiz >>> HERE
Please let me know how you fared!
Deep Breath. x
July 21, 2013
July 15, 2013
In the UK, Kat Banyard – founder of UK Feminista – started a campaign to Lose the Lads’ Mags.
She has signatures from lawyers supporting her push to have leading businesses, like Tesco, cease to continue stocking magazines – such as ZOO – in their stores.
As it states in the linked article (whilst looking through a ZOO magazine):
Banyard points to one advertising sex line workers who are “just 18” and a bigger ad, on the facing page, promising “Asian Dolls: find your perfect Oriental escort NOW!”. She winces slightly. “I find it staggering that high street retailers sell these magazines mean, they’ve been on their shelves for years, but I still find it staggering that they expect customers and employees to be exposed to this and also that they think it’s OK to profit from them.”
I think this drive is fantastic.
I want to do it here in Australia – and this is why…
A few days ago, my 10 yr old daughter needed a few simple stationary items, so I said we’ll pop into our local newsagency – a family friendly place, right?
This is the same location where I had ‘words’ with the owner, a few months ago, about how he positioned his copies of ZOO magazine on a stand, so that you could see it from outside the shop as you walk by…or your son…or daughter…or grandparents…
He also had very provocative magazines in the same location – down the front of the store – near the newspapers.
When I challenged him about a magazine cover showing a naked lady sitting on a push bike, in plain view from where you get the newspapers, he simply told me I had good eyes. (?)
He also argued that ‘children never go there’.
He ended up removing the ZOO magazine stand – which was a positive step – but alas, it stopped there. He left the other magazines as they were.
It had been a long time since I had gone in there, so you can understand how livid I was when I saw my daughter head to the stationary section and noticed it is located directly opposite the Lads’ magazines.
The current cover of ZOO is this:
Below are the magazines ready for visual perusal, by anyone wanting to buy stationary in this newsagency – where ‘children never go’:
Bulging breasts, spread legs; titles such as ‘Six feet of Sex’ and ‘Hot Stuff’…oh and a naked woman.
Above these are the hard-core mags which have the majority of the cover shrouded in dark plastic.
If this is what’s ‘allowed’ to be shown – what the hell are on the other covers?
Where I was standing, as I took the photo below, is where they sell the newspapers and women’s gossip magazines. Stationary wall to the left and lads’ magazines just opposite.
Question #175: Does this incense you as it does me?
I spoke up.
The only person in the shop was a woman who I have regularly seen over the years and I told her I thought that it was completely inappropriate to have these magazines where children could see these pornographic photos – where anyone could see.
She shrugged, said she just worked there and it had nothing to do with her.
A fairly predictable and typical response and yet still deeply disappoints.
I always wonder if the day will ever come, when someone I’ve spoken to says, “Yeah! That’s true.” (A girl can dream).
She also offered an alternative place of business – Officeworks – to buy stationary.
I was surprised by that – proposing we spend our money elsewhere – and I said to her that sadly, for newsagents, it may just have to be the way.
At that point I directed my girls out of the shop and we did, in fact, go elsewhere.
There seems to be no thought for anyone except heterosexual boys and men to get titillated (and conditioned) everywhere they go, perpetuating this ever-invasive porn culture …and then profit from that.
Of course, we have the equally unsettling issue of the girls and women participating in this paradigm – who feel somehow empowered to be told by men they look ‘hot’ when nearly naked…and then profit from that.
It’s aaall OK, as long as someone’s getting rich – regardless of what ethical lines are being crossed.
Well, I am done.
So is my friend Lily Munroe and we’ve started research for our own campaign.
So stay tuned.
Question #176: Are you with us??
Deeeeeeep (nervous but pumped) breath.