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The return of Loaded won’t lead to a lad-mag renaissance

Loaded Magazine back in its heyday. Credit: Getty

May 30, 2024 - 7:00am

Are we now to get the violins out for men and their desire to ogle scantily clad women? The new executive editor of Loaded, Danii Levy, thinks so, following her decision to relaunch the magazine as an online portal. This move comes after a nine-year hiatus, with Levy claiming that the magazine can serve as an outlet for men living in a world that has “gone PC-mad”.

Levy is right and wrong. She is right that porn has usurped and, to some degree, made the ogling landscape more toxic for men, and that the middle ground of common or garden ogling has become far more complicated and freighted with consequences than it used to be. “A weird dichotomy has opened up in society where there is an attitude that no one can say or do anything but then when you open social media it is full of porn,” says Levy. “Loaded is seeking to occupy the middle ground and say it is okay to appreciate beautiful women. Men need to have a safe place to read stuff like that and secretly relate to it.”

Perhaps. She is wrong, however, in arguing that male needs are unmet because men are cowed out of pursuing them in any above-board way thanks to PC culture which, although powerful at the cultural level, is not what ultimately matters when strong urges surface. But something interesting, and related, may be happening. Men may actually be less keen on ogling women than they used to, and not just because of the shifting sands around “consent” and what counts as harassment, although all this must certainly reduce men’s appetite for ogling women. After all, the cost-benefit analysis has changed.

It would seem that there’s something else at play: the internet has seen to it that women have become old hat now to the most sexually jaded generation of Western men in history. They are, as Levy points out, completely awash in all sorts of women in any number of portals and contexts, from reality TV to OnlyFans where they can pay for personalised visual treats.

I always trace men’s eyes when a beautiful woman in revealing clothes enters an Underground carriage or walks in front of them on the street. Lately, I’ve noticed they barely look up, let alone stare or catcall. This observation, however, is countered by statistics which suggest high rates of street harassment (though this is partly to do with increased reporting of such harassment and a wider scope of criminal behaviour).

This relative indifference may signify a neurological change in some men: the chemical cocktail of serotonin and dopamine leading to arousal, and the reflex to look or stare, seems to have been at least partially deactivated. This is not all a matter of conscious decision, but instead a long-term reaction to the transformation of naked women from a rare or somehow taboo entity to something available widely, at the tickle of a phone screen.

So, the new Loaded will provide more eye candy, but whether it can (or should try to) compete by being a “middle ground” in a landscape already saturated with such eye candy may be wishful thinking, a relic of marginally more innocent times.


Zoe Strimpel is a historian of gender and intimacy in modern Britain and a columnist for the Sunday Telegraph. Her latest book is Seeking Love in Modern Britain: Gender, Dating and the Rise of ‘the Single’ (Bloomsbury)
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2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
24 days ago

One of the weird things about current culture is that it is absolutely saturated with sexualised imagery. Everything from social media to rap music to Japanese cartoons to drag queen story time at your local library.

Yet re-runs of Benny Hill on ITV3 get trigger warnings because he gets chased by women in their underwear at the end of every show.

ralph bell
ralph bell
24 days ago

Maybe it will give men ‘the tease’ which we like and some humour, that is always welcome.

T Redd
T Redd
24 days ago

Guess which one had the b**b job…..The PC can go live in a closet…the fragile little things…GO BENNY HILL!!!

Sandes Ashe
Sandes Ashe
24 days ago

How do you know if you’ve gone far enough until you’ve gone too far. One day all this modern, post-modern, #MeFirst movement will be over with and we can all get back to mutually satisfying beauty and appreciation again. Oggling aside; peaking permitted. Run Benny run…

richard jones
richard jones
22 days ago

Basically, men like women to be playful and women like men to be grateful. Somewhere in there is the opportunity for everyone to calm down and carry on.

Dylan Blackhurst
Dylan Blackhurst
21 days ago

This paragraph made me laugh.

“ I always trace men’s eyes when a beautiful woman in revealing clothes enters an Underground carriage or walks in front of them on the street. Lately, I’ve noticed they barely look up, let alone stare or catcall. This observation, however, is countered by statistics which suggest high rates of street harassment (though this is partly to do with increased reporting of such harassment and a wider scope of criminal behaviour).”

Firstly as a 50+ white male I can safely say I have no idea what to make of sexual politics today. On the one hand we have the “we’re tired of being sexualised by the patriarchy”.
Then on the other hand we have the cult of gym wear worn as day wear. With the obligatory scrunch butt leggings etc.

As a guy you can’t fail to notice. But in the same moment you’re essentially being told not to.

And street harassment is on the rise!? Really?! Is this a case of a broadening the definition of harassment? Who is perpetrating this harassment (it will be white van man obviously)?