Zoo Animals


Zoo magazine: a bastion of class, wit and joie de vivre garnished with just the right amount of tasteful sauce. Catering to the discerning gentleman with its ability to showcase the most stunning of ladies, sickest of gags and most blokey of homophobic remarks, Zoo challenges its readers to be better men.

Yes, when editor Paul Merrill announced his Boys Like Girls With Funner Fun Bags So Why Not Win Her A Pair competition, he was met with outrage from both feminists and health groups.

The President of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons issued a complaint against the competition, saying, ‘It’s medically unethical to offer surgery as a prize and furthermore it’s inappropriate for a guy to win this prize and offer it to his girlfriend.’ Even the NSW Government got in on the act, ordering an investigation into the legality of the prize offered. Disappointingly, it seemed everything was legit.

Naturally, the magazine reserved the full force of its retaliation for the ‘feminists’ who dared to stamp their feet loudly in protest. In the manner of what has come to be a predictable and tired joke at the expense of any woman who dares to speak out against the constant slew of sexual objectification present in today’s society, a new competition was announced the search for Australia’s Sexiest Feminist.


See, Zoo figured that what we feminists are really upset about is not having our very own misogynistic competition that we can be part of. But look! he sneers, palms open in a poor attempt at acquiescence. Now even those who favour ‘sensible shoes’ (feminist = lesbian) and are too busy battling inequality to buy deodorant (feminist = smelly) can be assured that, when it comes to getting your kit off for a lad’s mag, progressive politics won’t stand in your way!

The message is simple women are okay as long as they’re playing by men’s rules (which basically amount to not putting up a fuss about being considered ‘fuckable’). Dissent is possible, but only if expressed in a cutesy pie, not-really-serious, isn’t-she-hot-when-she-pouts-I-just-want-to-bend-her-over-and-give-her-one kind of manner. Throw your weight around too much though (and lord knows it’s substantial in feminists because we’re all fat and ugly and that’s why we hate hot women so much HAHAHA! Jealous…) and you better believe you’ll get what you deserve.

The media release for the competition used Germaine Greer as a figurehead next to an image of a burning bra. Not only did this misappropriate Greer to make a point, it’s an act which deftly reduced feminists of all ages to the magazine’s idea of anti-femininity and the willfully misunderstood writings of one woman. The hijacking becomes even more offensive when Zoo‘s past disgust and animosity for Greer is discovered. In February of this year, the magazine’s website proclaimed:


It was bad enough that the Aussie ex-pat bagged our Aussie Steve just after he died, now she’s sinking the boot into his manhood. Obviously Germaine has far to [SIC] much time on her hands.

Steve was more blokey than an entire kaki wearing rugby team and could handle himself with crocodiles the size of minibuses, that’s pretty manly in our eyes. Even though Germaine Greer looks like a man, Steve was at least three times the bloke she will ever be!

Meanwhile, Greer (AKA Big Ugly Fat Ugly Man Wannabe Who Is Ugly) was recently declared Zoo‘s 31st most hated person in their annual scorecard, ’50 People We Hate!’ (along with Senator Helen Coonan, who dared to speak out against the breast job giveaway). According to Zoo, Greer should have left the bras alone and burnt herself instead. Sati, anyone?

It seems farcical, but it’s despicably real. ‘Feminist!’ has become the rallying cry from the armies of men like Merrill who refuse to acknowledge that a woman’s greatest aspiration isn’t uniquely connected to how much men want to fuck them. Its hissed utterance has become ubiquitous for a host of inaccurate and lazy ideas that only serve to crudely mask the speaker’s own ignorance and disinterest in directly engaging with those he seeks to demonise.

Through this disengagement, Zoo fosters and encourages an attitude amongst its male readers that women really are just there to be their playthings and worse, they’re expected to compete for the honour and consider it an achievement that men see them and think ‘sex.’

And those who disagree? Well, at its heart, Merrill’s juvenile response is one giant Fuck You to the sexless, smelly, sensible shoe-wearing brigade that would dare to try and spoil his fun.

Feminists, Merrill is saying, can bang on all they like about inequality and sexual oppression but at the end of the day he’s the one with the power. And as there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of women busting to get their bits out in his magazine, he doesn’t really need to pay attention to the piddling little squawks of protest coming from the gnashing army of women who are no doubt resentful of the fact that no one wants to bend them over and defile them six ways from Sunday.

New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.