ZOO Weekly, a British lad magazine that featured topless glamour models folded last Tuesday after eleven years of publication. Conglomerate Bauer Media shelved the magazine as its sales declined. ZOO announced the closure last November and released its final print issue on December 22. The ZOO Today website will also be removed sometime in 2016.
The Guardian describes the suspensions of ZOO, its sister publication FHM, and their competitor Nuts, which went defunct in April 2014, as the end of the “lads’ mag” era.
Though shifts in media preference from print to digital sources contributed to the demise, anti-lad mag feminists who saw the publications as demeaning to women also may played a role.
Targeted boycotts and petitions took the magazines off of newsstands. Similar tactics were used to convince The Sun to stop publishing topless photos of women on its iconic Page 3.
Nevertheless, as Martin Daubney, a former editor for FHM, told The Telegraph, feminists ought to temper their jubilation as darker days may lie ahead as lad culture pushes into the shadows:
[T]he anti-lad mag campaigners are deluded if they feel this represents some hollow victory against “lad culture,” which migrated online some time ago, where it has the potential to be much more toxic and misogynistic.
It is my prediction that, in time, the campaigners who despised the lad mags’ lifeblood will look back on these magazines as a period of relative innocence, that they would welcome back in a heartbeat.
Glamour model Jess Davies, who posed for ZOO, wrote an article for Wales Online with a similar opinion and explained why the closings do not promote gender equality:
[The anti-lad mag movement] accuses magazines such as Nuts and Zoo of “portraying women as dehumanised sex objects”, while “No More Page 3” says The Sun’s controversial page must go “because it mocks and disrespects women”.
These opinions would be valid if they didn’t turn a blind eye to the exact same issue relating to the opposite gender.You can’t say you’re fighting for gender equality, if you ignore (or in many cases actually engage with) the sexualisation of men. Women’s lifestyle magazines include topless images of men on a weekly basis, with “Hot 100” competitions, “Sexiest Man” awards and a “Weirdest Crush” plaque being handed out as an annual tradition.
Gay lifestyle magazines such as “Attitude” and “Gay Times” are easily accessible in supermarkets, and pretty much always include semi-naked men posing alluringly (and semi-dressed) on their front covers.
These images of men are there for sexual pleasure, the men are dehumanised sex objects, chosen simply for their looks and body. That is a fact.
But where’s the outcry by feminist groups fighting for equality on male sexualisation?
The Saturnalian has provided a forum for glamour models to express themselves openly and entertain readers through pg.3, launched July 2014. Interviewees have included Rachel Williams, one of ZOO Weekly‘s top glamour models. Her “slow motion bouncing boobs” video received over 7 million views on YouTube.
Shown below, the video marks what is perhaps the artistic pinnacle of ZOO. It immortalizes ZOO and stands as a lasting tribute to a time when expression was more open.