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MP says Penthouse better than Lads' Mags

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  • MP says Penthouse better than Lads' Mags

    Claire Curtis-Thomas, Labour MP for Crosby, wants 'lads mags' like Nuts, Zoo, and FHM, etc. consigned to the 'top shelf' out of the reach of minors, but in a mini-article for the BBC News website she says that she thinks the depictions of naked women in magazines like Playboy and Penthouse are 'more tasteful':

    While there is nothing wrong with naked images viewed by adults, [Claire Curtis-Thomas] says the context and tone of lad magazines are deeply unpleasant.

    I find myself being quite a fan of Playboy and Penthouse, probably more Penthouse. Obviously it does contain nude women but incredibly well-presented. The world has always presented images of nudity.

    I've got 100 nude men on the beach outside my front door - Anthony Gormley's Another Place - there isn't a hoo-ha about that.

    We must accept the fact naked bodies have been a fact of all of our lives, both male and female have been celebrated, but it is the way that they are portrayed that makes them either sexual titillation or art.

    The Sport or Zoo or Nuts are far harder, more sexually explicit. The women in these magazines are dehumanised. It is the context, the presentation. I cannot agree to anything that effectively gives carte blanche to things that are highly dangerous and obscene and treats women as a commodity which you can do anything to in order to improve your profits.

    Zoo's Dictionary of Sex goes beyond anything we consider normal. You wouldn't think of defecating on a human being. Yet this is the type of 'education' made available in this literature.

    Recently the Sport produced an article about a girl murdered by a necrophiliac. It wasn't put there with a view to getting people to feel deeply concerned that somebody's life ended tragically. It was about sexual titillation, surrounded by adverts for hardcore porn.

    Even an appalling tragedy like that which has sexual overtones is used to encourage depraved acts.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/5122272.stm
    See also: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5119602.stm

    Without wanting to get all high-and-mighty or holier-than-thou about this, I would have thought that the sanitised, airbrushed photos that feature in Men's magazines like Playboy and Penthouse were just as insidious as the 'harder' images Curtis-Thomas claims feature in the lads' mags.

    Her comparision seems somewhat bizarre to me, because as far as I know,* the lads mags tend not to feature 'genital' nudity, but mainly topless and rear nudity - almost delibrately so. (It's worth mentioning that these magazine often use their 'best' photo on the cover as an inducement to buy only for the contents to be tamer.) So while the pornography in Playboy maybe 'softer' its probably more explicit in terms of what's on show.

    Personally I'd be quite happy to see the back of 'lads mags' to be honest. They were originally quite innovative when they first appeared (indeed my wife used to read FHM at one time), but in recent years they've descended into a lazy, forumlaic rut of half-naked z-celebs from Big Brother, football, drinking and articles on the SAS. There's also some truth in the argument that lads' mags are put on the 'middle shelf' so they can be bought by people who lack the courage to reach up to the 'top shelf'. But whatever, I would have thought that Playboy and Penthouse displayed an even weaker grip on reality than the likes of Zoo and Nuts.

    *I'd have to buy some mags - purely in the name of 'research' (honest!) to know for certain. ;)


    _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
    _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
    _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
    _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

  • #2
    Actually I tend to agree with her.

    I'm not going to stand here and defend pornography, but the fact of the matter is that magazines that are explicitly pornographic are less pernicious than those that allow pornography in through the back door, so to speak. In fact, for this reason, I would defend hard core porn over the various 'artistic' soft core versions which I think are incredibly degrading to women.

    One of the terms being bandied around about lads' mags at the minute is 'pornography for cowards', and I think that is a very fair summation of what they are about: eroticised pictures of improbably enhanced women for those who are either too young or too scared to reach for the top shelf.

    However, I think the initial target should be the use of pornography in tabloid newspapers which, frankly, horrifies me and is the most degrading use of women as sexual objects that I can think of because it is so casual. At least with explicit pornography there is no pretense involved that anything else is going on and the women still know what they are doing and get paid (which is the argument most apologists for porn come out with). Whereas, like it or not, people are nipping off into thetoilets to w*nk over page three models, so to claim that it's 'just a bit of saucy fun' is horribly disingenuous.
    Her comparision seems somewhat bizarre to me, because as far as I know,* the lads mags tend not to feature 'genital' nudity, but mainly topless and rear nudity
    I don't understand how you can draw a major distinction between genital and non-genital nudity in series of photographs where the object of the lens (whther male or female) is obviously being set up as a focus of an eroticized gaze.
    Last edited by johneffay; 06-28-2006, 09:40 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by johneffay
      Originally posted by David Mosley
      Her comparision seems somewhat bizarre to me, because as far as I know, the lads mags tend not to feature 'genital' nudity, but mainly topless and rear nudity
      I don't understand how you can draw a major distinction between genital and non-genital nudity in series of photographs where the object of the lens (whther male or female) is obviously being set up as a focus of an eroticized gaze.
      The only distinction I'm drawing is that at the moment there seems to me an attitude from the publishers that as long as Nuts & Zoo don't feature 'pussy' (to put it crudely) then the mags are safe on the 'middle' shelves. It's been some years since I used to buy any 'middle shelf' mags regularly so I'm not up to date on their current content (hence my remark about having to go out and do some 'research').

      Generally I agree with your observation that hardcore pornography is more 'honest' than the airbrushed softcore you get in Playboy and Penthouse, which presents both men and women with unrealistic and fantastic (as in 'fantasy') images of what it is to be a woman. Curtis-Thomas' attitude seems to be that Penthouse pornography is preferable to Nuts porn because it's 'nicer'. That seems to me to be wholly the wrong position to be taking on this matter.

      DeeCrowSeer had a thread around here where he mentioned the current marketing of the Playboy bunny symbol and the Pussycat Dolls to pre-teen/teenage girls, which I think crosses some of the points I'm trying to make. I'll see if I can find the link.
      _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
      _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
      _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
      _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

      Comment


      • #4
        One thing that Ms Curtis-Thomas probably doesn't realise is that Playboy keeps the mag deliberately toned down but offers hardcore porn on the internet, so it's all a natural progression really from bottom shelf to top shelf to dot com. From that point of view, I'd be surprised if many young lads actually buy the stuff on hard copy. Unfortunately, anti-porn feminists have been defeated by technology.

        What's most pernicious about the "lad mag" scene is that it gives the message that it's somehow acceptable to read it on buses and leave it lying around the workplace. The normalisation of porn.
        \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

        Comment


        • #5
          No ! the most pernicious is that it presents as a " normal " thing the selling of the human being, even in pictures, particlularly women, and of " special situations ".

          Porn. movies are currently viewed by young peoples who try to imitate what they see in movies and it gives them a very bad image of women .

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mikey_C
            What's most pernicious about the "lad mag" scene is that it gives the message that it's somehow acceptable to read it on buses and leave it lying around the workplace. The normalisation of porn.
            Yeah. I came to that same conclusion when I saw them lying around at work. You can even read them in the pizzeria not far from here. Lots of kids go there. And while waiting, of course, they skim through the pages.

            I should say that the 'youth of today' (not the crummy straight-edge-hardcore band) is being aggresively 'pornified'. Shaving of pubic hair, fitness mania, and bimbo-fication. Whether this is just a social trend like in the 70's, one could only hope so.

            Regarding feminists. I saw a letter to an editor (some sex therapist, or whatever) from 30-40 year old virgin male(s). Just lonely spirits wondering where all the feminists who want "A nice man! With whom they could talk to, like an equal and with respect, and who doesn't crave sex all the time." Perhaps they just aren't as interesting as the 'aggressive ones'.

            Comment


            • #7
              For those (like me) with a morbid curiosity about the actual contact of 'lad mags', this Guardian article is illuminating (if that's the word...):
              Rose, 25, a bank worker from Hampshire, was shopping for dumplings in London's Chinatown when she was approached by Nuts magazine's Street Strip Challenger, who asked if she'd come back to the magazine's offices, strip to her underwear and pose for a photo. She agreed. Here she is on page 20 in yellow bra and thong, telling us about her favourite diamanté-encrusted pulling pants. Meanwhile, rival weekly lads' mag Zoo is pondering the tabloid story that comedian Steve Coogan has impregnated Courtney Love under the headline "You put your cock in that?", remarking that the singer has "nasty, lumpy breasts" and "had an awful lot of sex" with her dodgy "previous owners".

              Zoo is currently searching for Britain's dumbest girlfriend. Tony Miller from Manchester proposes his lady love, Fi: "I'm going to get her a stale turd for Christmas," he says, "because it goes with her shit brain." Zoo had more than 200 entries to its competition to "win a boob job for your girlfriend", a prize to "transform her into a happier, more generous, intelligent, spiritual, interesting ... version of the slightly second-rate person she is today". Pictures of Jordan before and after her own journey from B to DD are featured, along with a selection of breasts to solve the reader's dilemma: "Which type of tits do you want for YOUR girlfriend?"

              In FHM, the big daddy of lad publishing, with monthly sales of half a million, the question is: "How much are you paying for sex?" A form helps the reader calculate his outgoings on cinema tickets, flowers, Barcardi Breezers, etc. He divides the total by the number of shags he's had that month to calculate his "pay per lay". Under a fiver per shag is "too cheap - she's about the same price as a Cambodian whore"; around £11 to £20 is "about the going rate of a Cypriot tart ... Each shag now needs to be a better purchase than a new CD." For more than £31, apparently, a man should expect the nipple tassel-twirling skills of a Cuban showgirl.
              Worse than I suspected. The whole article is worth a read: it captures the "outdated feminism" claptrap that holds young women party to their own exploitation. I certainly get the impression that these mags do more to blur the boundaries between fantasy and reality than top-shelf porn, which everyone knows is no more than wanking material.
              \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mikey_C
                I certainly get the impression that these mags do more to blur the boundaries between fantasy and reality than top-shelf porn, which everyone knows is no more than wanking material.
                Mmmm... 'Duuuumpliiiings'... *drroooll*

                Hey mikey?.. Hows the weather? Here its sunny..

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Theocrat
                  Hey mikey?.. Hows the weather? Here its sunny..
                  30 degrees predicted for the weekend, and no more studying to do. Sweet!
                  \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks for that Mikey; I take back what I said about tabloid newspapers being more pernicious. I haven't seen the inside of one these magazines for years and I'm astounded. I had no idea that they were now that bad. How do they get away with it without being sued? Surely that 'dumbest girlfriend' competition and the Courtney Love article are libellous? This isn't even the dehumanisation of women by turning them into erotic objects, it's just pure and simple degradation.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by David Mosley
                      Without wanting to get all high-and-mighty or holier-than-thou about this, I would have thought that the sanitised, airbrushed photos that feature in Men's magazines like Playboy and Penthouse were just as insidious as the 'harder' images Curtis-Thomas claims feature in the lads' mags.
                      I don't think it was the photos that have upset her but the text and context. The photos themselves would be tame in isolation, which is how they get away with it - there is literally nothing that you wouldn't also see in a tabloid newspaper.

                      With regards the debate on hardcore porn somehow being more honest; for many years I'd have taken that line, until someone pointed out the quite simple question : Which would you rather be involved in? Or have your mother / wife / daughter / partner involved in.

                      Airbrushed erotic photography may be insidious, but it doesn't involve women from impoverished backgrounds being buggered for money. No one has ever caught AIDS or suffered rectal haemorrhage from a softcore shoot. It 'only' damages the relations between men and women.

                      On that level, the problem with the 'high' end of the market (including Arena, GC and Esquire as well as Playboy) is that they posit an impossible and glamorous ideal. It fetishes women. The problem with the bottom end of the market is the opposite of putting women on a pedestal.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jules
                        With regards the debate on hardcore porn somehow being more honest; for many years I'd have taken that line, until someone pointed out the quite simple question : Which would you rather be involved in? Or have your mother / wife / daughter / partner involved in.
                        I don't think that's a simple question at all actually. I would say that it would depend very much on the circumstance surrounding what they were doing, i.e. the sort of people they were dealing with, etc. You have to remember that for every 'empowered' Jordan in the softcore industry, there are scores of people having a bad time, many of whom will end up doing hardcore anyway.

                        Originally posted by Jules
                        Airbrushed erotic photography may be insidious, but it doesn't involve women from impoverished backgrounds being buggered for money. No one has ever caught AIDS or suffered rectal haemorrhage from a softcore shoot. It 'only' damages the relations between men and women.
                        But if softcore pornography encourages the sexualised objectification of men and women, leads to promiscuity, etc. then people probably have suffered such things as the result of softcore shoots, just at one point removed from them.

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