In light of recent news detailing the financial woes of lad-mag Nuts as well as The Sun’s Page 3 breast cancer campaign, lad culture is witnessing an especially peculiar period in its history. Nuts, a weekly men’s magazine that launched a decade ago, is now entering a 30-day consultation process with staff members regarding possible closure. This follows a sales decline with only 53,000 sold in the second half of 2013.

I, for one, was hardly part of its targeted demographic. To me, such publications and their adopted infantilism seemed insulting, even to their dedicated readers. In short, it made Loaded seem like Chaucer in comparison.

While I don’t want to rain on the parade of any individuals rightly celebrating the demise of this highly sexist, offensive magazine, I feel the entire issue is a bit of a red herring. A staple of what was commonly referred to as ‘lad culture’; Nuts magazine represents all that is boorish, juvenile and woefully distasteful. However, much worse can be said for the industry that has ruthlessly pushed it out of the market: internet porn. You hardly need a market analyst to tell you that the days of shamefacedly purchasing titillating publications at the local corner shop are long gone. Magazines ranging from FHM to Zoo have all suffered a decline in circulation as more and more of their intended audience take advantage of the internet and all its perks. A simple Google search can now supply young males with content that is far more accessible, risqué, and of course, free.

Therein lies the concern; the alternatives to the much derided Nuts’ and Zoo’s of the newsstands are inherently problematic. As sexist and Neanderthal-like their commentary may have been, the narratives many young adults are exposed to on the net are infinitely more degrading, and at times, even disturbing. A recent poll carried out by mental health charity Young Minds revealed that a third of 11 to 14-year-olds have accessed porn on a mobile device. Internet pornography is evidently an inescapable facet of the internet landscape. More troublingly, three quarters of that age group described their reactions to pornography as ‘disturbed, upset or worried’. Such reports have led to figures such as Home Office minister Norman Baker, speaking out against the ‘exploitative’ messages porn sends and the corrupting effect it has on relationships between boys and girls.

These statistics are undoubtedly alarming. Even those with a lax, hands-off attitude to parenting cannot deny that children as young as ten should not be exposed to pornographic material. Porn triggers a strong reaction, both from its supporters and industry members to fierce opponents. Yet, all will agree that the majority of internet porn is hardly an accurate, balanced, or even healthy representation of sex and intimacy. If adults can often find it difficult to discern between fantasy and reality, what hope do young children, or teenagers for that matter, have? Coupled with subpar sex education that does little to address adolescent concerns and sexual myths, a recipe for disaster is in place.

Nuts represent only one branch of the many-headed, chauvinistic and sexually irresponsible beast. It’s simply been replaced by more accessible, potentially more destructive mediums.

As tempting as it may be to rejoice in the fall of one of the vanguards of abhorrent ‘laddism’, I can’t help but think of a generation whose sexual awakening involved a relatively soft-core publication complete with football speculation and Xbox vouchers. For some youngsters today, foraying into the digital sexual landscape will prove to be a more hazardous journey.

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