Does closing Zoo Magazine make any difference?

Zoo Magazine’s demise makes the world safer for young women,” according to a press release by the Australian Christian Lobby.

Zoo, described as a “struggling lads mag” by Mumbrella, will bite the dust in October. The final quarter of 2014 saw a huge 36 per cent decline in sales to just 24,122 copies sold according to Mumbrella. And it was pulled from the circulation audit system in May: normally a sign that things are going badly. (Eternity, by the way has our circulation audited by the official print media auditor).

The magazine was removed from Coles’ shelves after a petition launched by advocacy group Collective Shout attracted more than 38,700 signatures according to advertising industry journal B&T.

Zoo promoted rape culture, according to Collective Shout. “The publication contains highly sexualised images of women along with headlines and articles discussing their body parts. Readers are shown where to access more explicit content on its website and social media, along with ads for phone sex lines and adult shops,” the group said on their website.

Losing the sales from one distributor – and Collective Shout do deserve the credit for this ­– may have simply made the magazine unviable, which suggests the magazine was likely to be culled anyway by publisher Bauer, unafraid to close its Australian titles. Playboy Australia closed in 2000. Ralph closed in 2010. Zoo is simply part of what the feminist Fairfax site Daily Life has called the “looming demise” of the Australian men’s magazine.

A dying breed of magazines is probably easy pickings for lobby groups. All magazines, not just the ones that people lobby against, are under threat. Glossies are possibly the media most severely affected by the Internet, more than newspapers or traditional TV.

Australia has a lower spend in magazines than the UK, for example; 4 per cent of Australian advertising is in magazines, compared to 8 per cent in the UK. The medium is vulnerable.

But the claim that Zoo’s demise will have any significant impact on women’s safety seems to draw a long bow. Even more than print media, lad’s mags and their more hardcore siblings have migrated to the net. Or rather been swamped by an Internet porn industry that is so big that nobody can measure it.

And regretfully the Internet makes things too easy. I have never been tempted to read Zoo or its mates. But I have surfed to places on the net I shouldn’t have.

According to the Stop Porn culture site run by activist Gail Dines, 25 per cent of all Internet searches are for porn. The porn industry makes more money than Hollywood.

Which makes the shuttering of Zoo magazine seem rather small. I would like to think that closing this mag would really make women safer. But I doubt it.

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