Meet Zoo Weekly’s women-hating, anal sex-obsessed readers

It’s been a while since I dropped by Zoo Weekly’s Facebook page.

Regular readers may recall that it fell foul of the Advertising Standards Board in November for a Facebook post featuring the top half and bottom half of a disembodied woman which asked readers which they preferred.

So how have they been since? It looks like service remains as normal.

Zoo put up a picture of Kim Kardashian riding a jet ski with the not entirely subtle innuendo: “Kim sure loves water sports.”

Reader Martin Devaney certainly got the joke, asking: “Can I piss on her?”

And thus began a cavalcade of misogynistic hate.

“Repugnant bitch! Why the fuck are you posting this?”, asked Benoit Joncas

“Fkn crash”, suggested Manuel SoundsFamiliar.

“I hope she breaks an arm,” urgfed Danny Devlin.

“How’d she get her fat ass on the ski?” asked Jim Look.

“What a pig”, chimed in Cory Simpson

More charmingly, Bill New had his snuff fantasy: “I would like to tie just one brick around her ankle, throw her in the ocean n drink a beer while I watch her struggle then eventually drown…”

kim a


kim 3

Mind you, that’s not the only charming Facebook post Zoo’s been posting in recent days.

With similar Wildean wit, it posted a picture of a woman on a bike with the innuendo: “Would you ride it (the bike, we mean)?” Of course you do, Zoo. Of course you do.

So Wolfgang Savage was clearly grabbing the wrong end of the stick when he replied “Right up the shitter.”

would you ride it

Then of course, there are contributions from Zoo’s female readers. Responding to a picture of a hitchhiker (Zoo’s innuendo: “Like if you’d give her a ride”, Eva Katalin Veres contributes: “Slut. Cover up.” while Teresa Enninga adds: “Looks like she belongs in the zoo.”

zoo hitch

Zoo’s also been exploring fertility issues by posting a doctored image of a pregnancy test stick with the message “You should have sucked his dick!”

But the topic returns to anal sex.

Ryan Dean contributes: “I would rather see one that says: ‘You should have taken it up the arse.”


Even Prime Minister Julia Gillard comes in for reader scrutiny.

“She would have a nice hole,” opines Charlie Manson.

Aside from the general level of offence, there are a couple of reasons why Zoo’s Facebook page bothers me.

First, it ignores the self-regulatory standards set down for brand pages by the ASB and the Australian Association of National Advertisers. Although I can’t now see the Kim Kardashian post and it may have been removed, it was up for several days. The AANA recommends that brands check pages at least once a day and more often just after posting.

That seems to me like an issue that publisher ACP Magazines (currently rebranding as Bauer) should be getting to grips with. Either the publisher abides by the ASB or it doesn’t. The evidence suggests that Zoo has deliberately gone rogue.

But the other issue is that it’s simply off brand for Zoo Weekly. In chasing Facebook interactions, the mag has lost its way and is working against its own interests

I interviewed the now departed founding editor Paul Merrill at Mumbrella360. He made the argument, convincingly, that Zoo should be about celebrating women – they are, after all, the readers’ girlfriends, wives and mothers…. people to be celebrated, not denigrated.

But the mag’s social media policy is about cheap innuendo which inevitably unleashes a torrent of hateful comments that it often chooses not to remove. It seems to believe that it is better to get reader comments than to be on brand. At the very least it’s an enabler for the comments that inevitably follow.

Zoo may not be guilty of misogyny itself. But it’s asking for it.

Tim Burrowes


  1. Lou Heinrich
    8 Jan 13
    11:25 am

  2. Amen brother! So good to see you criticising zoo magazine for what it encourages – humiliation and dehumanisation of women. It’s quite absurd.

  3. Lucio
    8 Jan 13
    11:28 am

  4. Unfortunately, we have to share the streets with these morons.

  5. Kenny
    8 Jan 13
    11:30 am

  6. Hey Tim, I get it that you have it in for Zoo, and see yourself as some kind of misogyny-fighting vigilante, but really – is this how you spend your time?

    Scouring Facebook for things that outrage you, finding them in really obvious places, and then letting us all know how shocked you are to find out that a lot of people are dipshits?

    In fact, your examples don’t even hold up that well. Most of the comments, although clearly from nuff-nuffs both male and female, seem to be directed at Kim Kardashian herself, rather than a hatred for women in general. Aside from a few comments that are in bad taste (what I might find bad taste others may not) most could be construed as people attempting crude humour, or to deride a celebrity figure.

    Will you be providing your services for all Australian Facebook represented brands, or just the ones that have scantily-clad women on them?



  7. Sleve
    8 Jan 13
    11:37 am

  8. Thank you for calling them out. Keep up the good work.

  9. Adam Ferrier
    8 Jan 13
    11:59 am

  10. I’d be really interested to hear the Zoo editors response to this.

  11. Sean
    8 Jan 13
    12:00 pm

  12. We can all get caught-up in the PC debate here, and, yes, some of those comments are totally abhorrent. However, it’s clearly a magazine that caters to the lowest common denominator (and there’s plenty of products that do that.) I do wonder how ZOO survives; it must have advertisers running an absolute mile and, with its reputation, you’d think most men would think it an utter embarrassment to be seen in public with the thing. I can only assume it’s incredibly cheap to produce – stuff nicked off the internet, girls who send their own photos in, all done by an editorial staff with more acne than sense. But if you don’t like it, don’t go hunting their Facebook page, I guess….

  13. Sandra
    8 Jan 13
    12:14 pm

  14. Love your punch line. Yes they are asking for it … Inciting is the word I might have used however.

  15. Lucio
    8 Jan 13
    12:44 pm

  16. Uh Kenny, would you be kind enough to let us all know what suburb you live in please? I’m recckon there are quite a few of us who’d like to ensure we never move there.

    Cheers mate.

  17. Caitlin
    8 Jan 13
    12:49 pm

  18. I figure it’s only a matter of time until Zoo goes the way of Ralph and FHM magazines. Can’t come soon enough.

  19. Al
    8 Jan 13
    12:50 pm

  20. Hang on – isn’t this just blaming the victim?
    What if these images had been posted by an actual woman, of herself – would we say that she was “asking for” these horrible comments?
    Surely Zoo has the right to express themselves without being accused of provocation.

  21. John
    8 Jan 13
    1:07 pm

  22. I’ve never heard of this Zoo. I will look into it after this. But reading these guys foul comments I couldn’t help but laugh. These are young people. We need to ask ourselves why. A product of society? There are things in society that encourage this sort of thing? Ok. Now, ask yourself could there be another reason that might cause this bitterness towards women?

    Have they had a bad experience with women? Women don’t tend to be as offensive with crude words, but still can be very, very nasty and hateful. Girls don’t grow up sorting things physically, but with words. So by the time they are adults they have their nasty fine tuned. It’s their only weapon. Guys can’t compete, can’t punch, so resort to this.

    Finally can I say women need to take some responsibility for these things. As an example, as a man we are told by many women that they love “bad boys”. So what message does this send to our men youth. To be good, or bad?

  23. Anon
    8 Jan 13
    1:48 pm

  24. so what about all those women who take “selfies” in bikinis and post them up for the world to see..? Do you want to see a general ban on that too Tim?

    its a free country mate, even if it doesn’t suit your taste or mine.

  25. Melinda Liszewski
    8 Jan 13
    2:08 pm

  26. Regarding the Ad Standards Board’s determination about Zoo in November last year, what the Ad Standards Board did was group complaints about a number of different Facebook posts into one document, not just the image of the woman in two halves. Whilst the document says that complaints are ‘upheld’, the document is actually incomplete.

    One of the complaints submitted to the board and referenced on the Ad Standards Board’s website as ‘invitation to upload selfies’ was about Zoo regularly soliciting semi naked photos from women. Zoo will post “sends us a pic of you and a Zoo” along with an email address. Women send in their semi naked photos, holding a Zoo mag. The photos are then published on Facebook, hundreds like and share it, resulting in free advertising for Zoo.

    The complaint was specifically about Zoo soliciting photos and the fact that this undermines community concerns about sexting and safe use of the internet. It was on this basis that Mossimo and Lovable ad campaigns were banned last year.

    Although the ASB references Section 2.6 Health and Safety within prevailing Community Standards as one of the issues raised, they did not discuss section 2.6 in the document. The only reference they made to the complaint was “an image of a woman taking a photograph of herself wearing a bikini and holding a copy of Zoo magazine.” Completely missing the point, they did not address the issue.

    The ASB was asked to clarify this one month ago, but have not responded. I would like to know why Mossimo and Lovable were banned from soliciting sexualised images, yet Zoo magazine gets away with it.

    You can read the document here for yourself.

  27. Simon
    8 Jan 13
    2:11 pm

  28. I remember a few years back talking to an ad executive working for Zoo and asked how much they paid for the content of girls proudly displaying their backsides.

    They replied ‘Paid? We don’t pay. We get 1000s of girls a week sending in pictures for us to print free.’

    So go figure. Hateful comments aside, the magazine does exactly what it says on the front page and caters for BOTH male and female readers. Sure, we don’t have to like it but lets not turn Mumbrella into the Daily Mail please.

  29. Kate
    8 Jan 13
    2:14 pm

  30. Al, I see what you mean, in that by being provocative Zoo is not responsible for the reaction it inspires – and by blaming Zoo we are victim blaming.

    Victims of crime are made responsible for things that were out of their control and generally amount to wrong place, wrong time (and wrong gender).

    I’d argue that Zoo are hardly victims. They are perfectly capable of deleting offensive, violent and misogynistic comments on their facebook page.

    I’ve recently learned the term ‘rape culture’ which includes the attitude that women’s bodies are public property. Publishing sexualised images of women and asking for comment on them fits neatly into rape culture, which is by definition, misogynistic.

  31. The Pigman
    8 Jan 13
    3:28 pm

  32. While some of these comments can rightly be called misogynist, most cannot. You are defaming these men and i hope they sue you over it.

  33. Caitlin
    8 Jan 13
    5:29 pm

  34. Yeah Pigman I’m sure they’ll have a super strong case…

  35. Emily
    8 Jan 13
    6:44 pm

  36. The issue for me is that Zoo has created an environment where (unfortunately) people will misbehave. By not deleting or addressing it, Zoo is facilitating and enabling these people. Condoning – maybe, it could be argued either way.

    As for defaming – really?! REALLY?!
    EVERYONE KNOWS THEY ARE ON THE INTERNET. Don’t write it if you don’t stand by, or mean it!

    Great article, great last line and I hope it encourages Zoo to create a clear policy and moderate accordingly!

  37. Obsurd
    9 Jan 13
    10:41 am

  38. I cant believe the comments on this thread defending Zoo?

    Zoo is a publication, published by ACP / Bauer Media. Bauer Media also publish titles in Australia such as, for women: Australian Womens Weekly, Woman’s Day and for children: Disney Princess and Little Friends. Money Magazine and Smart Business Idea’s also comes out of their stable.

    Bauer have a responsibility to keep their comments moderated. They would not publish such explicit, vulgar and sexist comments in the print mag.

    Tim has quite rightfully hunted this down, because Mumbrella is a voice for the media industry in Australia. Publishers in Australia must act responsibly.

    @Kenny. Are you kidding me? I am guessing that you are a troll and not a part of the media industry?

    @Anon. The matter is the comments that have not been moderated.

    The sad part of social media is that “The People” can become “The mob”. In the past publishers acting responsibly would ensure that such commentary was never aired and society would ensure that people who opened their mouths loudly in public were ousted (or taught to be socially responsible.)

    It will be interesting overtime, how we regulate all of the vile on social networks. We cannot let it get out of control, otherwise we will see loads of Kenny’s, Anon’s and Pigman’s, doing as they please, which for my daughters would be truly horrific.

  39. Wow
    9 Jan 13
    1:15 pm

  40. Is that how guys really talk? How sad.

  41. Niq
    9 Jan 13
    1:17 pm

  42. I cannot believe this is even an article – although entertaining to read. I don’t find it all shocking, ground breaking or even news worthy.

    Zoo readership = Bogan.

  43. bored
    9 Jan 13
    1:21 pm

  44. Good point Tim – and this issue of brands being responsible for the dim wits who comment on their facebook feeds is really important……zoo what ya gonna do? hopefully get hit by a lovely large fine that you need to pay.

  45. Kate D
    9 Jan 13
    1:23 pm

  46. Clementine Ford wrote a good article for the Daily Life about the same issue:

  47. KS
    9 Jan 13
    1:25 pm

  48. The problem with sexist attitudes in any industry is that they just get worse when you don’t talk about them. This is an industry blog, and Zoo is part of the media industry.

    Thank you for talking about it, Tim.

  49. Dorothy
    9 Jan 13
    1:32 pm

  50. I thought Bauer had some fancy communications/social experts on staff to prevent this kind of thing from happening? Makes the publishing house as a whole look ignorant.

  51. Kelly
    9 Jan 13
    1:44 pm

  52. @Kenny – you’re right. Kim Kardashian deserves comments like ‘I’d love to tie just one brick around her ankle, and throw her in the ocean and watch her drown.’ Hilarious!

    This isn’t the deep dark edges of the internet – this is a public Facebook page for an ACP-stabled magazine, and comments like this aren’t on – regardless of who they’re directed at.

    Advertisers – are you comfortable with this?

  53. Just a Girl
    9 Jan 13
    1:49 pm

  54. I’ve been disgusted with them since those ads with the dude and the tennis ball… I mean, is this SERIOUSLY the gene pool in which we are to take a dip?!

    I don’t f&%*ng think so.

    Men may think it’s all very funny to make jokes at the expense of women, but us girls should be intelligent enough not to give them the time of day. Then maybe they’ll learn.

    As for Zoo, best of luck with your attitude. I hope that ish gets better soon.

  55. Sylvia
    9 Jan 13
    1:49 pm

  56. it’s the 48,000 likes for that page that depresses me…

  57. marcus.hudswell
    9 Jan 13
    1:52 pm

  58. Hey Kenny, , I get it that you have it in for Tim, and see yourself as some kind of media commentary hater, but really – is this how you spend your time?

    Scouring Mumbrella for things that outrage you, finding them in really obvious places, and then letting us all know how shocked you are to find out that a lot of people are dipshits?

    In fact, your examples don’t even hold up that well. Most of the comments, seem to be directed at Tim himself, rather than a hatred for an e newsletter that comments on media or advertising issues. Will you be providing your services for all newsletters or just ones that critise your favourite mag?

  59. Bob
    9 Jan 13
    2:00 pm

  60. Not a big fan of KK, but surely a murder threat seems to be going a bit far?

    I mean, I don’t much like a lot of people, but I don’t go around threatening to drown them…

  61. Honey
    9 Jan 13
    2:05 pm

  62. Agree. What’s disturbing isn’t only that young dumb dickheads think this way. It’s that a major brand is enabling a forum that condones and even encourages it, thereby giving it credence and making it appear acceptable. Cultivating a rape culture is exactly the right way to describe this. I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys create a spin-off Meetup group for men who want to stalk, rape and drown women by tying a brick to one foot and throwing them in the ocean…

  63. Honey
    9 Jan 13
    2:06 pm

  64. PS Tim, you cop a lot of flak for some of the things you write but don’t let any of the trolling get to you on this one. You were absolutely right to raise it and I can’t believe Zoo gets away with it when any other company would be stopped in its tracks.

  65. timross
    9 Jan 13
    2:20 pm

  66. It’s self evident the Zoo reader has scabs on their knuckles from recent Cro-Magnon evolution. All the same, as a marketer I’d consider pulling spend if this kind of vitriol was left online for what’s supposed to be a mainstream media publication.

  67. TellyPrompter
    9 Jan 13
    3:10 pm

  68. Yes, @John you’re so right. It’s all women’s fault for opening their mouths and daring to voice an opinion in the first place. It makes men (like you?) angry and in need of a safe environment in which to retaliate. Thank you Zoo for providing in times of need! @John: I’m guessing you’re a ‘bottom half’ man

  69. Trish
    9 Jan 13
    3:51 pm

  70. Kenny asks Tim, is this really how you spend your time?! Well it just happens to be his job so I’d certainly hope so!

    I, for one, am absolutely delighted that Tim does spend his time bringing attention to the prevalent and extremely disturbing woman-hating culture that exists out there.

    It astonishes me that people exist who think like this, and I just HATE the fact that the likes of the Zoo Facebok page gives them a voice, but hoepfully with the likes of articles like this, they might not be given such an open voice in the future, and maybe, just maybe, they may actually stop long enough to realise that what they are saying and how they are thinking about women is quite simply, wrong.

  71. Master Blaster
    9 Jan 13
    6:32 pm

  72. It’s the same reason why people think “Twilight” is genius literature, think “Two and a Half Men” is an audio visual mastercraft and reckon the “artists” on 2Day FM are musical brilliance. If there’s a market out there for it – it’ll keep selling. By publishing this article, you’re merely aiding Zoo’s publicity.

    Are they guilty of misogyny – maybe. Sexism – perhaps. While the females depicted in the magazines are easy on the eye – I’m sure a lot of their readers would be happy to join them for stimulating conversation over candlelit dinner, long walks on the beach and snuggling up on the couch during rainy nights with cheesy chick flick DVD’s.

    Let’s not generalise the Zoo Weekly reading fraternity based on a few anti-nanny like FB comments. In a glass half-full perspective – at least Zoo are enabling their staff to put food on the table and pay their bills. What’s Kim done for modern-day society?

    “how’d she get her fat ass on the ski” – hilarious.

  73. Charlie Sierra Alpha
    10 Jan 13
    10:57 am

  74. It’s a shame that while ZOO’s print mags manage a kick-ass balance between sex, risk, wit & class (the reason I’ve always enjoyed reading them), this charming page seems to cater more for juvenile, all-talk virgins.

    It’ll be interesting to see if this strategy shift works for them.

  75. Craig
    10 Jan 13
    6:49 pm

  76. Well flagged Tim. That this type of approach and comments are endorsed by a large Australian publisher is extremely worrying.

  77. Mike
    12 Jan 13
    12:44 am

  78. So when do Rhonda and Ketut get married?

  79. David
    12 Jan 13
    8:44 am

  80. Damn internet!

  81. Afraid
    17 Jan 13
    10:47 am

  82. Reading posts and comments like this proves to me that Australia is no different from the evil pigs in India and Afghanistan who openly condone violence against women. Thank you Tim for having the courage to speak up.

  83. Mark
    17 Jan 13
    5:30 pm

  84. I think the solution for Zoo is to direct it’s fans to a closed forum.

    It may make it more difficult to utilise FB as the tool they see it as, but they clearly need a ‘private place’ for this stuff.

    It’s a bit like telling the drunk teenagers to take their party from the street corner home to their parents house where they can’t hurt anyone but themselves.

  85. ronsie
    19 Jan 13
    11:37 am

  86. It’s a nice world you live in where you can pretend these people don’t exist.

  87. Jacqui Lamont
    22 Jan 13
    4:26 pm

  88. Now that I’ve been alerted to this I won’t be buying any ACP/Bauer publications anymore. Not going to support an organisation that green flags this treatment of women.

  89. Rachel
    29 Jan 13
    12:01 pm

  90. @Lucio – You’re awesome.

  91. julien
    31 Jan 13
    10:13 am

  92. I’m not shocked at the comments. Those guys are everywhere – always have been, girls – you wont cure the morons by censoring them. I also believe that if we are to censor sexual images and naked attractive bodies we might as well impose islamic law on all men and women. I mean, look what it did for the middle east.

    Perhaps we should turn back the clock a bit and look at the history of sexual censorship, ie. What has banning sex for priests in the catholic church done for society accept come out sideways in the form of child rape. What’s interesting to me is that societies which repress and censor sexuality have more extreme abusive behaviour than those with a more open approach. This is overwhelmingly evidenced in research.

    I also find it offensive that the title of this article suggests that guys who find women sexually appealing are hateful. Many men are attracted to women. Just because there are some bogans out there to stupid to know when to shut up does not mean all men who appreciate the female body are women haters, in fact if I hated women, I’d become gay. Teenagers and young women will sext whether or not the laws that be condone it or not – you can’t control human nature with an ipad. People haven’t changed. Just the forum.