Why I am calling on Coles and Woolworths to ban Zoo Weekly from their shelves

Zoo Magazine

Zoo Magazine

Because of the stories I hear of young girls who are being pressured into sex as young as 12 or 13, the two women a week who die at the hands of their partners or ex partners, and the experiences of too many of my friends who are survivors of sexual abuse, I've decided to take a stand against companies that are normalising, encouraging and endorsing the mistreatment of women.  

I'm starting with Coles and Woolworths for profiting from selling the sexist 'men's lifestyle' magazine Zoo Weekly.

I'm 23 years-old. This is the first time I've taken action against national corporations. But I've had enough.

Zoo Magazine

Zoo Magazine Photo: Collective shout

Almost every young woman I know experiences the daily reality of sexually harassing comments, cat-calling, inappropriate touching, comments about their bodies, pressure from boys for sexual images and questions about the sex acts they're willing to do. We talk about it among ourselves and we all think it's getting worse.

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This week, I launched a petition on Change.org calling on our major supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, to bin this so called 'lads mag'.

Zoo Weekly is read by 36,000 boys aged 14-17 every week. It calls itself 'The Men's Weekly Bible'.

What is this 'Bible's' lesson?  Grooming boys into thinking they can use women and girls purely for their pleasure and satisfaction. Giving them a sense of entitlement to our bodies. Promoting rape culture. They use photos of young girls lifted from teen porn sites. There are promotions for best shot of 'your girlfriend's breasts'.

A 2011 study compared lads mags' (including Zoo) and statements from convicted rapists. It found many people could not distinguish the source of the quotes.

Disturbingly, this is how Zoo Weekly teaches boys to take advantage of girls who are under the influence of alcohol.

'If the object of your affection is drinking, that's already a point in your favour… you want to pick the "loosest/skankiest" one of the lot and fetch her a drink…separate her from the flock. You're off alone, boozed-up and charming — these are three green lights!'

Content which demeans women is also on Zoo's social media page which has over 90,000 followers.

Included on Zoo's Facebook page was to an image of a woman chopped in half with the question, "Which half do you prefer?" Young readers described their various pornographic uses for the woman's top half and/or her bottom half.

I have seen and experienced firsthand the detrimental costs of what this magazine endorses, not only in my life but the lives of other young people. Magazines like Zoo promote attitudes that lead to violence against women.

Do the boys my friends and I encounter everyday need more cultural messages telling them they can do what they want to women and girls? How are they supposed to respect us when they get trained by magazines like this on how to assault us?

Having Zoo magazine on the shelves of 'family stores' like Coles and Woolworths, normalises Zoo for popular consumption among boys and men. 

It contributes to a culture that is hostile and threatening to women.

When big supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths sell Zoo it normalises harmful attitudes to women.

Zoo teaches boys that women should submit to their demands. Do Coles and Woolworths, which pride themselves on their corporate ethics and support for communities, share this view? If not, why spread it?

Currently, neither Zoo magazine nor its social media platforms have age restrictions -- allowing an open environment for anyone to view, participate and encourage this destructive behaviour.

How can we as a society allow the younger generation be groomed to think that what Zoo magazine portrays and communicates is acceptable advice on how to treat women and girls? 

What chance does the younger generation have when they are being fed a diet of soft porn and the abuse, sexualisation, and objectification of women has become so normalised.

I'm asking Coles and Woolworths to actively choose what they sell.

Both chains pride themselves in being a family friendly environment and one that is safe for the local community.

If this is truly what they believe then I think it would send a bold and powerful message to that community if they demonstrated corporate social responsibility and removed Zoo from their shelves.

 

You can sign the change.org petition here