As feminists prepare to dance on the grave of Nuts magazine, which recently revealed it might close in the near future, this modern suffragette is instead lamenting the gradual demise of a soft-porn culture which once saw boob, fanny and arse provocatively displayed in grocery shops alongside our meat and two veg.
The notion that feminist thinkers must be intrinsically opposed to women using their bodies to entice men is something that has irritated me ever since I was old enough to realise that a flash of my cleavage and a swish of my hair is sometimes all it takes to make a man do my bidding. In a male-dominated world it gives me great pleasure that certain parts of my body can make a man go weak at the knees and hard at the groin, turning typically rational blokes into lustful animals who think with their dicks.
Although campaign groups like Lose the Lads' Mags (LTLM) and No More Page 3 protest with the best of intentions (to end the objectification of women, to stop the patriarchy making a sweet profit out of women exposing themselves on glossy front covers, and to ensure young boys don’t sneak a look at a boob in the school corridor) I worry that the end of Nuts magazine and other raunchy publications will usher in a scary new era in which women will be discouraged from wearing short skirts, heels and lip gloss on the basis that displaying their assets makes them objects for male gratification. What of the women who choose to embrace their sexiness? The understanding that girls should remain pure, untouched and sexually naïve until they marry is one I thought we’d banished in the 1960s along with pop socks and poodle skirts.
If we really want to free women from the clutches of the patriarchy, we should take a critical look at magazines like Cosmopolitan and Glamour, both of whom bill themselves as magazines for women despite frequently displaying headlines like “50 sex tips your man will love” and “How to please your man using only an ice cube”. Delve deeper (oh err) and you’ll find advice on how to wax (for your man), do your hair (for your man) and get that bikini body (for your man), all available for a couple of quid in any good newsagents. I’m not against women using their bodies to win over men (a sexy woman is a force to be reckoned with), but endorsing the belief that sex is specifically “for your man” is dangerous. Replace a Brazilian and a bikini bod with a clean house and home cooked food and wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, we’re back in the 1950s. What about female pleasure? Is the idea of a woman getting her own kicks really that shocking?
It’s time we accepted there’s nothing wrong or dirty about a woman enjoying sex. Losing the magazines will succeed only in promoting the opinion that women who have sex for fun or outside of marriage are either immoral or victims of an evil money-making scheme. Squirrelling away images of girls being sexual is the reason why adult magazines were created in the first place. If we were more accepting of the female body in all its gory glory, we wouldn’t need specialist magazines hidden in discreet packaging and placed out of reach on the top shelf.
If LTLM are successful it will be a massive blow (ha!) for womankind, many of whom have fought tirelessly for the right to embrace their sexuality. Boobs and bottoms, both front and back, are nothing to be ashamed of or concealed. By outlawing lads' mags we risk turning women’s sex into a taboo. And there’s nothing more dangerous, or erotic, than a taboo.