Lad mags vs. family values

A British M.P. argues that men's magazines encourage "instant-hit hedonism."

Tracy Clark-Flory
August 5, 2008 5:00PM (UTC)

In a speech Monday, British M.P. Michael Gove spoke out against "narrow conception(s) of beauty and a shallow approach towards women." Bravo! It's great to see a politician publicly speak out against sexist attitudes and rigid ideas of female beauty. That said, he's lambasting U.K. lad magazines -- Zoo and Nuts, in particular -- for promoting these things. As you might expect from those illuminating titles, both offer up photos of topless ladies with a side order of dudely reportage on sports, technology and, of course, breasts. I'm afraid Gove is banging his head against a wall -- of dirty mags -- when he questions the way these magazines celebrate "instant-hit hedonism," "thrill-seeking and instant gratification." After all, how much sexual maturity can one really expect from a men's weekly called Nuts?

From there, his speech speeds downhill. Gove, a member of the Conservative Party, argues that it's important to help "adults commit and stay committed" because it "opens the door to a depth of emotional enrichment which a series of shallow and hedonistic encounters can never generate" and "provides the best possible start in life for children." I won't bother defending young adults' uncommitted "encounters" -- been there, done that -- but I will say: Politicians truly interested in seeing more children receive a fair start in life should focus on, say, improving sex education and increasing the support available to parents, and spend less time in the magazine aisle.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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