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School feminist society takes on Tesco – and wins!

Guest post by Tania Shew, member of the Camden School for Girls Feminist Society

 

Recently, or so I have heard, Rupert Murdoch said he was ‘considering’ reforming page 3. After a day of being bombarded by tweets from supporters of the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign, stating why they thought that Page 3 should be consigned to the past, Murdoch responded: “page three so last century! You may be right”.

Whilst we at the Camden School for Girls 6th Form Feminist Club cannot boast playing any part in this step towards success in the international fight to reduce the objectification of women, we did run a similar campaign last year, on a local level.

One of the first things we discussed as a group, back in September 2011, was the displaying of ‘Lads Mags’ in the branch of Tesco next door to our school. This branch of the shop is frequented by almost all of the students at Camden, for many on a daily basis, and it was stocking ‘Lads Mags’  in plain sight, on an ‘eye-level’ shelf and right next to where many pupils queued to get their lunch.

We talked to some of the other students around school about how they felt about this and we became worried that seeing the degrading images of women on the front of these magazines daily might start to have a negative effect on some of the girls, especially the younger ones, and lead them to have increased body confidence issues or to believe that the best way to attract boys’ attentions was to objectify themselves. As feminists, many of us were, ourselves, also uncomfortable with these images being a part of our daily lives. We then decided to run our first campaign, our aim being to get the magazines moved to a higher shelf or for the images on the fronts to be covered up.

We initially tried speaking to some of the staff at the shop but this attempt was, to begin with, fruitless. We then made a short film, or a ‘docufemtry’ as we called it, in which we interviewed pupils and teachers from the school and members of the local community, illustrating our shared concern with where and how these magazines were being displayed. Real success only came, however, after we received media coverage; our campaign was first featured in an article in the Guardian about new feminist grassroots groups and members of our club were subsequently interviewed by a local paper.

After this our demands were met and our expectations exceeded – ‘Lads Mags’ were removed from the shop entirely! We are now really happy with our branch of Tesco and we hope that they can set a precedent for other shops with a similar proportion of young customers.

I hope that within my life time it is no longer acceptable, let alone normal, to see women being objectified in everyday situations; whether that be when I’m buying my lunch, when I’m watching an advert or when I’m reading a newspaper.

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