An attempt to ban ‘lads’ mags’ was defeated at a meeting of the Queen’s JCR last Sunday.
The proposal was put to Queen’s undergrads in the form of an amendment to a motion on the college’s newspaper ballot that was being discussed. This biannual survey dictates what publications the JCR subscribes to, which currently includes men’s magazine FHM.
The failure of the amendment means that lads’ mags will remain an option for the JCR to choose when voting on the publications to which they would like to subscribe.
The discussion comes in the light of several Oxford JCRs making the decision to ban certain publications on similar grounds. Teddy Hall JCR voted to stop subscribing to The Sun last February, with the motion’s proposer claiming “that we’re no longer down with the values of page three”. New College JCR followed suit in June, claiming that Page 3 portrays “a false and unrealistic standard of beauty”.
Second-year History and Politics student Charlie Troup, who proposed the motion at Queen’s, said the publications in question encouraged “crudely derogatory” attitudes towards women.
“Whilst I recognise that ‘lads’ mags’ are not illegal and would not question the right of JCR members to buy them with their own money, I do believe that they are a wholly inappropriate use of JCR funds,” he said.
“The attitudes that lads’ mags express and encourage are crudely derogatory towards women, and I object to money intended to engage the interests of the wider JCR being used to bankroll the masturbatory proclivities of a small minority of its members.”
“Everyone who spoke against the motion agreed that lads’ mags would not be an appropriate use of the JCR’s money, but appealed to the ballot voting system as a means of preventing them from being bought.
“I do not doubt the sincerity of their sentiments on this point, but I must say that I find the argument extremely weak: it’s beyond me how anyone can say the ballot system will prevent lads’ mags being selected when demonstrably exactly this happened last time we held the ballot,” he added.
However, other JCR members opposed the motion on the grounds of the precedent it set in banning publications in general. These included James Colenutt, who stated that the JCR should not “be in the business of banning literature we don’t agree with”.
“I completely agree with what was said about lads’ mags. They are offensive, repulsive and breed a particular brand of misogyny. I personally don’t read them and doubt anyone else at college does too. I would love to not see them in the JCR or anywhere for that matter,” he said.
“I don’t think that the JCR should really be in the business of banning literature we don’t agree with because in this case, when we have a ballot, a vote, it is thoroughly undemocratic.
“The idea of the ban came from the right place, but it wasn’t to do with the motion (discussing the ballot and not the contents of the things on the ballot), and it was unnecessary given the fact we’re voting on it.
“Having said that, it’s really not a big deal. The debate was in good faith and no one is suggesting that lads’ mags are good or have a place in Queen’s life,” he added.
Troup added that he remained pleased that the discussion took place: “Still, I was pleased that we had an overdue debate on the matter, and I sincerely hope that people’s faith in the JCR is vindicated when we find out what publications we will be subscribing to for the next two years,” he said.