A great hoohaa erupted last week when the new chief of the bank of England decided to use one of his first days on the job to announce that due largely to the lobbying of certain feminist individuals a new banknote is soon to be issued that features a woman on the back of it as opposed to a man. Apparently there has been an enormous miscarriage of justice over the last quadrillion years that has resulted in few women having had their pictures on the back of a bank note despite the fact that one of the most famous women in history has had her face on the front of all of them for the last 60 years. So after a long consultation process -I don’t remember being asked- it was decided that Jane Austen was to be the face on the new back of the new £10 note. Speak to the vast majority of the UK population and I’m sure that most of them don’t recognise the woman on the front of the notes yet alone the identity of the person on the back, for example without looking it up on google, can you tell me who is the person on the back of a £20 note? No, didn’t think so. Most of us will at some point have returned home from Europe over the last few weeks and cared not one single bit about which anonymous person, man or woman, adorns the front or back of any of the euro bank notes they have been using and so long as they get a good rate of exchange will probably never do so. That said, the readers of ‘The Times’ will have probably learned who is on our bank notes so that they can remember it in case it comes up in a radio 2 quiz, readers of the ‘Daily Mail’ won’t care either so long as its Princess Diana, and readers of ‘ The Sun’ don’t care so long as she has big boobs. Therefore my most hardy congratulations this week have to go to feminist champion Caroline Criado-Perez who it would appear has changed the mind of the bank of England and succeeded in changing something that on the whole no one give a toss about.
And then I turn the tv on on Monday. It seems that the co op supermarket has recently carried out an exit poll on their customers, asking them if they felt offended by the images shown on the front of various ‘lads mags’ such as Nuts or Zoo being displayed in their stores and It turns out that the great majority of respondents to this question answered yes. So many in fact that the co op have threatened the publishers of these magazines with the promise to stop stocking them unless they are either toned down,made less offensive or covered up.Since as long as I can remember these magazines along with those at the more specialist end of the market, have always been displayed on the top shelf in order to make sure that they are kept out of the gaze of impressionable youngsters. Everybody knows this, so why is it then that people then look up towards the top shelf, tut disapprovingly and then complain that they have been offended. If your that easily offended then don’t look up there in the first place! There is a branch of the co op less than a mile from my front door and with the possible exception of the ‘one stop’ shop a bit further up the street, this is by far and away the worst convenience store I have ever seen or had the misfortune to be in. The only reason I go in there in the first place is to buy beer so I can then get some cash back in order to spend at the Chinese takeaway next door who still refuse to accept card payments. It’s my opinion that the co op has more fundamental problems to deal with rather than bothering too much with censoring boobs. When you go into this store the first thing that greets you is the bread section which also contains some dubious looking “fresh” buns and pastries and a left turn takes you to the back of the store and a display of over priced goods on the shelf. I say shelf, for the most part these goods are displayed in roll cages because the overworked staff haven’t got time to get them out of these cages and onto the shelves in the first place so you end up having to guess how much they cost. Assuming you have made it through the aisles to the counter, you are then funnelled into a queue which is the same length as the one at Heathrow’s immigration counter and then get served by a staff member who does his best but is clearly trying to do too much on his own. After leaving the store I’d love to be met by one of these guys with a clipboard and have him ask me what I think of the store and if this was to ever happen I hope he has got a lot of time and plenty of paper to write on. But what actually happens is that upon exiting this hell hole of a store, someone appears from out of nowhere with a clipboard in hand and asks you if you were put off by the images of boobs.
It’s an interesting set of morals these stores have. In the interests of research I decided to pop into my local store and look at the magazine range for myself to see what all the fuss is about. As I walked into to my local co-op there was the newspaper stand which featured the daily sport, which for those not in the know is a publication featuring stories connected with nothing but sex,sex and more sex. On the front cover of this paper was a photo of a woman bending over so that you could see her underwear. I don’t remember seeing anyone from the co op getting hot under the collar by this. Then I turn to my right and saw the magazine display, and this displayed what I understand to be the main cause of the problem. Boobs. There in the middle of this display at the top was nuts magazine, which on its front cover featured full length shot of a woman in a bikini with some other smaller pictures of other women also in their underwear. Below that was the latest issue of Men’s health magazine featuring a half naked man with a six pack striking a pose while managing to look rugged and manly. Then there was the row of women’s magazine. Having never read any of these wastes of ink I can’t claim to have that familiar with them but the seem to have headlines on them that in my opinion are more offensive than the lads mags. The first one was ” set on fire by the beast who raped me” and the second one was ” horror hauntings killed our baby”. The front of the Take a break magazine has the heading of “killed because I went for a McDonald’s” and the front of Love it ran the front page of “corpses in the ice cream”. Now in the general scheme of things and assuming for one minute I was an impressionable child, do you think I would be more scared by the thought of being haunted or even raped to death, or would I be more corrupted by the sight of a pair of bikini clad boobs? I know which one I would be most worried about.But it seems that the feminists and the store operators would have us believe that an impressionable child viewing a pair of boobs by accident is by far and away a bigger threat to the moral fabric of our society than the prospect of the same impressionable child seeing a corpse in the freezer or being killed for asking for a happy meal. In my opinion these are the things we should be more concerned with.
The main argument against these lads mags seems to be that women should not be depicted as merely objects and that the women who are featured in them are in some way being exploited. Then just today tesco announced that it had reached an agreement with the magazines publishers that they would be toned down or even displayed in plain covers to protect their customers. The reason they give is that they have taken the advice of the feminist group “lose the lads mags” who claim that it is a “national scandal” that these stores stock and sell the mags in the first place. National scandal my arse. Its a scandal that children in this country are not properly protected against abuse. Its a scandal that in a so called developed country such as this that hard working families have to rely on food banks to get by. Its not a scandal that some women and men want to earn a living by taking advantage of their own good looks.They go on to say that these magazines “underpin violence towards women” and ” send a deeply deeply harmful message that treating women like sex objects is normal and acceptable”. Well not only do they not, I think that no right thinking man or woman wants to see any woman exploited or taken advantage of whether see gets her boobs out for a living or is the CEO of a multinational company. Just as a woman can rise the corporate ladder why can’t she also chose to be a model, whether it’s a glamour model or a catwalk model. Surely it is the final irony of feminism particularly over the last 30 years that young women have been brought up to believe in themselves and to believe that the world is their oyster and they can do whatever they want but when they decide that they can make a good living being a topless model the women’s groups are the first to complain. It goes without saying that no woman, or man for that matter, should be exploited but I’m very confident that none of the contributors to nuts or loaded are doing so against their will. Also I’m confident that none of these women are doing so because they have little other option. It seems to me that this is a fairly short lived career and many of them decide to pursue this as a job while they can before going on to do other things. The women representing so called feminist causes would impress me more if they were to look more closely at more important issues regarding feminism such as young British Asian women being married off against their will but I guess that while it is still easier and less dangerous to complain about banknotes and boobs, they will take the easier option.