Thanks to UK ally, Quiet Riot Girl, for alerting me to this recent bit of advice offered in the UK lad-mag, The Zoo’s column, Ask Danny!.
Photograph provided by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/observationsandmachinations/4581304972/
First, the lag mag advises the heart-broken young man to get wasted, bang every woman in his path and then break their hearts as a form revenge on his ex and all heart-breaking women out there. As if that wasn’t tasteless and immature enough, this was followed with the option of cutting his ex’s face so “no one will want her.” Charming, Danny Dyer.
This reprehensible and disturbing “advice” was met by a massive and justifiable twitter outcry:
One tweet, from blockbusterbuzz, said: “If this is meant to be a joke, it isn’t remotely funny. If it’s serious, it’s a criminal offence.”
Another, from hannahkaty, said: “To the people who think Danny Dyer is “funny” and “ironic”: Have a read of this?”
Domestic violence charities have also criticised Dyer for his “inexcusable” advice.
Sandra Horley, from Refuge, said: “It is all too easy to dismiss comments like these as a joke, but at Refuge we know that domestic violence takes lives and ruins lives.
“One woman in four experiences domestic violence at some point in her life.
“Two women are killed every week by a current or former partner. And these figures aren’t going down.
“One-in-eight young men believe it is OK to hit their girlfriend if she is nagging.
“Danny Dyer’s irresponsible and tasteless comments do nothing but reinforce these horrific attitudes. Shame on him.”
This was accompanied by swift action (yet another example of activism and advocacy immediately at work via social media outlets). As a result, The Zoo offered an apology, chalking it up to a “production error” and offered to make a donation to Women’s Aide.
Dr. Petra offers a comprehensive analysis that provides most of the answers to the questions asked.
Unfortunately there is a long history of lads’ magazines not taking relationships/sex issues seriously. From Zoo’s previous idea to ‘win your girlfriend some boobs’ through to their inclusion of non qualified advisors on their advice column they have form for sidelining relationships issues while presenting misogyny as ‘fun’. Myself and others have consistently offered to help provide frank sex and relationship advice men want, but men’s magazines remain resistant to this.
Zoo isn’t unique in this regard. When asked to address sexism or incorrect sex information in their pages lad’s magazines traditionally argue it is not their place to do so they are – in their words – about entertainment. They see having to present sex and women in non sexist ways as ‘boring’ or ‘worthy’ and argue their readers don’t want this. When you criticise them they make out you’re boring, ugly, or out of touch – and nowhere near cool enough to get their postmodern approach to sexuality.
Unsurprisingly lad’s magazines have historically approached sex/relationships issues either with complete silence, or with inaccurate advice, or with humour. There are some things, however, that just aren’t up for this treatment. And domestic violence is one of those issues.
As Dr. Petra points out, lad-mags in the UK and the United States don’t exactly have a reputation for offering meaningful, mature and sensitive advice when it comes to emotional and/or sexual relationships with women. Rather, they emphasize hegemonic masculinity‘s socially constructed tenants of hypersexuality, dominance and control. I recently posted a series of images advertising masculinity, many of these images taken from lad mags such as Maxim, Stuff (which has since ceased publication) and FHM.
Lad mags are part of a larger cultural conversation that speaks loudly to boys and men, shaping their framework of reality. Jokes about disposable women, dumping ex’s, banging as many women as possible (followed by rejection) and the threat of violence against women in the name of ownership and jealousy are far from casual jokes and entertainment.