The Vagenda

Tesco Retro

My local Tesco’s separate their magazines into ‘Women’s interests’ and ‘Men’s interests’. Presumably just in case my ovaries don’t automatically direct me on a nuclear mission trackpath to choose cupcakes and TOWIE and I accidentally buy something I couldn’t possibly be interested in – like Private Eye or The Economist, or The Spectator. I don’t think (or I really really don’t like to think) that Tesco organises its magazines on the basis that women aren’t interested in politics, the economy or current events, and that it’s some sort of patriarchal-oppression drive by one of the biggest supermarkets in Britain. I don’t think that, and I don’t WANT to think that. But routinely, for several months, this particular Tesco has sorted its magazines by placing those magazines, and others, into ‘Men’s interests’. It’s the ignorance that I find most depressing, apparently no one has had a brainwave that a woman might be interested in wider affairs.
My tits do not prevent me from wanting to read about current affairs, in fact, the mere presence of them encourages my interest in politics – women are routinely underpaid, underrepresented and unfairly treated in businesses and wider society. A YouGov survey has just released figures showing that just over 40% of young women in London have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces over the last year. I have a vested interest in current affairs, and the fact that Tesco designates them as anything else than ‘General interests’ is utter bollocks. I try not to get too sweary in my writing but things like this, that can be easily ignored and overlooked, cause me to put on my biggest Doc Martens and start getting sweary with even the smallest and sweetest old lady.
The majority of women’s magazines make me feel like I’m not conforming to society’s unobtainable ideals of femininity. I don’t care about who shaves or doesn’t shave their armpits and I subscribe to the Caitlin Moran school of thinking – that I will only wear high heels that allow me to dance to Lady Gaga and run away from murderers. The most frustrating aspect is that a generation of children are walking through these shops, seeing that these magazines are for men, and this affecting their attitudes of acceptable reading material for men and women. My XX chromosomes only serve to make me brilliantly awesome, and in no way do they define my reading interests. Sort it out Tesco.


12 thoughts on “Tesco Retro

  1. I am going to check my local Tesco tonight and see if they separate their mags this way too…what can be done about this? Who is the best person to write and complain to? This is seriously, blood-boilingly, unacceptably frustrating.

  2. ‘How it Works’ is placed oh so perfectly there. Unless you’re talking about easy-spray-on tan, or how to get into our bikinis again this year, us ladybums just don’t want to know how anything works – obviously.

  3. When I was a few years younger I always used to pick up a copy of NME. It was quite astonishing how often I found it in the ‘men’s interest’ section of the news stand. Even if it wasn’t as clearly labelled as this, it was always placed away from the ‘women’s lifestyle’ magazines. Very far away.

  4. Checked out my local Tesco this afternoon and discovered the same thing. The Economist, The Week, Private Eye, National Geographic and New Scientist, all vertically under the “men’s magazines” label. Took a (not very good) photo to prove it. I went to the customer services desk and asked the (admittedly very polite and helpful) man (who was just doing his job) why this was, and he explained that as far as he was aware, Tesco’s overall “planogram” reckoned that such publications fall under the “business” bracket and therefore belong in the men’s section. He gave me a feedback form to fill in, so I will report back if they get back to me.

    I asked my Dad to pop into Sainsbury’s and see how they organised things there – he said the only “serious” magazine he could see was The Economist, and it was positioned right in the middle, exactly half way between the (unlabelled) girly mags and boy mags. So hats off to Sainsbury’s.

  5. Hear hear! I get a guilty feeling every time I buy a copy of Private Eye, which I love to read every once in a while. The middle aged blokes browsing the car magazines next to it just look at me weirdly.

    Re New Scientist, putting that in the men’s section is actually revolting. Loads of women write in it, and all sci/tech students read it!

    Good article on one of the “hidden in plain sight” forms of discrimination. Let’s get this sorted!

  6. My Sainsburys does the same thing- and the “Runners World” magazine I am always looking for is only to be found in the “Men’s Interest” section. Ridiculous!

  7. This has been bugging me for years. I read a lot of magazines that are always in the men’s section. I’ve had odd looks from men sometimes too. Being a heavily tattooed, science geek rock lover does not mean I am automatically in possession of a penis!

  8. yeah, but. when the media & politicians classify things as “women’s issues” – child care, birth control, etc., etc., too many of us nod our heads yes and go along with that. it’s all wrong, and until we stop doing THAT, methinks this will never change.

  9. We’re just rebels! I started with buying Kerrang! and Metal Hammer, a mix of movie and FX magazines, then NME with Rolling Stones and Q, and more lately New Scientist magazines. Even Esquire – don’t try hiding Rufus Wainwright in a man’s magazine, i WILL find him! And from ages 12 to 24, i’ve stood searching for these magazines in the “men’s section”, even going as far as (at 12 years old) panicking like hell that there were no more kerrang or film magazines and so quickly scanning the top shelf- bare boobies in print be damned!

    Maybe we could go in our Tescos one day and swap them over- see if we can get some embroidery, crochet, baking and bead weaving on the the men’s shelves, maybe even some “Take a Break (and read some women’s horror stories) whilst Chat(ting about car boot sale buys).

  10. I believe it works both ways. I’ve bought ‘women’s interest’ magazines many times in the past and don’t see why they have to be in a women only section. Though I know there is plenty of cynical comment on women centric magazines on the Vagenda blog, if more men read these magazines they’d get out from under the car bonnet more and pay some attention to the woman in their life…

  11. When I was a teen I actually thought something was wrong with me because I was buying magazines labelled under men’s interest. The other irritating thing is when they put digital magazines RIGHT NEXT TO THE PORN in WHSmiths and I go completely red when other people look at me going through them. How the hell is being into computers and digital artwork connected to masculinity?!

  12. My boyfriend and I were in Tesco the other day, and there amongst our shopping was a copy of Doctor Who magazine (picked up from the “Men’s Interests” section, might I add). The man on till scanned it through, asked “who’s this for then?” and instantly looked over at my boyfriend. He was so taken aback by me saying “That’s mine! I LOVE Doctor Who” that he was rendered speechless for a moment or two.

    This made me sad.

    I love sci-fi and horror, and I absolutely HATE romcom films. My boyfriend, on the other hand, loves chick flicks, musicals and romcoms, and while I watch Doctor Who he’d rather be in the other room watching The X Factor.

    Take that, gender stereotypes!