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Are Lad Mags Behind The New Frontier Of Feminism?

22/10/2014 13:04 | Updated 20 May 2015

When Emma Watson stood before the U.N. General Assembly, and the rest of the world, last month and formally invited men to join the fight of feminists for gender equality, the #HeforShe campaign was born.

emma watson

Given the overwhelming positive reaction to Emma's speech, I wasn't surprised to see a lot of male celebrities diving straight in to wave the flag. Russell Crowe, Douglas Booth, Simon Pegg and Chris Colfer all tweeted their support for #HeforShe, committing to being feminists themselves (it's not just for women, you know).

But you're probably not aware that a month earlier, a brilliant example of the #HeforShe concept went viral, and it originated from the ultimate macho brand - Playboy.

Launched in 1953 and famous for objectifying women ever since, the US website of Hugh Hefner's lads mag underwent a relaunch this summer, and it seems that the team behind it are now all for bringing feminism firmly to the table.

The piece in question that appeared on Playboy.com, and subsequently swept the internet, was a flowchart, designed by artist Shea Strauss, which in its own irreverent way educated readers on why catcalling a woman isn't cool. It had some LOLz about it, but its message was crystal clear – catcalling is the hobby of douchebags, so stop it.

If Playboy becomes a little more forward-thinking in their attitude to feminism, who's to say other lads mags won't follow suit?

What was interesting about Playboy's move wasn't that they were making a groundbreaking feminist statement, but a subtle nod to the everyday concept of gender equality. Let's be honest, it would be weird and a tad grating if they suddenly turned their backs on what fundamentally made them a success by announcing that all in-mag models will be pictured fully dressed or every feature will include a female perspective on the topic in question. Playboy would surely lose their core audience, and more importantly, they'd lose their credibility.

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Because they do have credibility, no how much the haters curl their lips. And that's why I think it's awesome to see their editorial agenda dipping its toe into feminist topics. The brand has a vast audience and some serious social power, so if Playboy becomes a little more forward-thinking in their attitude to feminism, who's to say other lads mags won't follow suit?

It's fair to say the core 'lads mags' need to do something to up their game, as sales are falling. This month's Loaded, under new management, features lengthy and thought-provoking articles on the pages where nipples and thongs once lay, so maybe the entire genre will go further and fully embrace the ethos of gender equality in their tone and content.

Emma quoted statesman Edmund Burke in her speech, saying: "All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing", so if we're to live by Edmund's words, anyone raising awareness and educating people (not men, not women – people) about gender equality is doing a super duper thing. Even The Heff.

If Women Catcalled Men

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