Friday, 28 September 2012

Has womb; will get hysterical.

Did you know, the Sun newspaper features a topless woman every day? Of course you did. The words “page three” have been weirdly synonymous with “tits” for years.  It may be something you don’t think about much; I certainly didn’t. I’m not a great reader of the Sun, and I had sort of accepted that they had page 3 girls, the same way I accepted that their articles included sentences such as “Tot-attacking MONSTER to ROT in jail.” It’s just the way they ARE, bless ‘em.

Luckily, Lucy Holmes is not afflicted with a similar apathy; she has started a “No more Page 3” campaign which is snowballing with a speed that must be most alarming to Dominic Mohan, The Sun’s editor. (As of right now, the number is 38,059.)

Labour MP Clare Short attempted to ban page 3 twice, back in 1986 and 2004. A clue to her lack of success can be found in the response from her peers; “As I spoke, putting the case for the removal of pornographic pictures from the press, a large clump of Tory MPs began to giggle and chortle and make crude remarks about me, my bill and my body.” (See what happens when you go to a boys-only school?)

So, is there any justification for keeping Page 3? Neil Wallis wrote amusingly in the Huffington Post this week about “Why the Self-Serving Wimmin Who Want to Ban Page 3 Are So Wrong”. His resorting to a misspelling that nobody has used since the 1970s, along with words such as “hysteria” and “shrill” are all fairly obvious attempts to undermine the campaigners. (Neil, if you want us to take you seriously, learn to spell. It’s Womb-en, ok?)

He also admits defeat rather quickly, saying “The answer is easy to those who will hear it: NO-ONE CARES.” Good. Then you won’t mind if we take page 3 away then, will you?

He’s under the impression that anyone who would dare to vote against the “institution” is out of touch with reality; Sun readers aren’t like that, you see. As he says of its vast readership, “Do those three million worry about Page Three? No, they worry about their kids' health, the rent, putting food on the table, work, their relationship, benefits scroungers, immigration, the telly, and a drink at the weekend.” As Glosswatch puts it, “As a white, university-educated, middle-class feminist, there are many things about which I don’t give a toss. My children’s health and earning enough money to pay the bills, for instance. When it comes to those things, I really couldn’t give a monkeys. I prefer to let the “real women” worry about such mundane trifles.”

So what about all those poor Sun readers who just want to see “a bit of fun” in their newspaper and can't be bothered to turn to the comics? I hate to throw your own words back in your face, Neil, but: NO-ONE CARES. So what if it hasn’t occurred to Sun readers that having sexist drivel might be a bad thing to have in a “family newspaper”? It doesn’t mean that nobody else is allowed to think about it or start a campaign.

Of course, nobody who is in favour of Page 3 wants to see bare breasts in the newspaper for selfish reasons, good God, no! It’s really just a way of doing young, impressionable girls a favour. To take their chances of “modelling” away from them is pure arrogance, according to Mr Wallis: “And why shouldn't a girl stuck behind the bread counter at Tesco, an office girl down the local council, the unemployed, find a new glamorous life via Page Three?”

      What on earth would young girls do without role models like this?

This seems to be quite a common defence of “glamour modelling”. It's the route to a “better life” for many young women! A life which revolves around fake tan and vajazzling and the knowledge that little girls are looking at them and hoping that one day, they too will be topless in a newspaper! Imagine a world where this didn't happen. Imagine a world in which Jordan had never become famous! Wouldn’t that be, um, awful.....?! 

I’m always suspicious of anything which requires the defence “it’s just a bit of fun.” This seems to be brought out all too often, explaining everything from rape jokes to mean practical jokes (all shit and giggles til someone has a heart attack) and of course, beauty pageants in which 8-year-old girls parade around in bikinis and heels. You know what? When something’s a bit of fun, there is no need to point it out. Fun is one of those wonderfully self-evident things. It doesn’t normally involve 50% of the population being valued only for their sexuality. 

As  Benjamin Jones of Mitch and Murray points out: “It should be fairly obvious that a special page in a newspaper dedicated to a woman with her tits out for no other purpose than having the presence of some tits is not really there to advance equality or celebrate women.  It’s there to say “corrrrrrr, nice tits” and that’s it.  And just because they add “Sally, 19, is currently studying politics at Birkbeck” it doesn’t mean she’s being treated as an equal.” 

Wallis wants to know “Why aren’t those (No More Page 3) petition signatories putting their energy into campaigning against, say, female genital mutilation? White slavery? Sexual stereotyping in the workplace? Forced marriages? Under-age sex and pregnancy? TxtSexploitation in schools? The list is endless – in my view, all these are far more important… but silence.”

Well, it’s not really silence, is it? The fact that you know about these issues at all tells you that somebody, somewhere, in the media has reported on them. And as others have pointed out, most people can manage to sign more than one petition. The point is, Page 3 is ONE huge issue we CAN solve very easily, and it would make an immediate difference to women in Britain; we would be assured that showing topless women is the territory of lads’s mags and porn, not daily newspapers. 

Clare Short writes “One young woman told me that she went to a police station in London to report a sexual attack and was confronted by a pornographic calendar. She went home feeling sick. She did not report the attack and felt that she could not trust the police who proudly displayed it on their wall. Another woman went with her small daughter to report a road accident and was confronted by a similar calendar.” The sooner pornography loses its veneer of normality and “harmless fun,” the better. 

So there you go. I don’t care if the lack of Page 3 means that all those poor Sun readers will be sobbing into their cornflakes every morning when they are DEPRIVED of the glorious sight of a 19-years-old’s knockers. Boo hoo. Get over it. (Because it’s not as if they can see bare breasts anywhere else, is it? It’s not like people have the internet on their phones or anything like that.) I don’t even care if there are some young women who were planning to make a career out of taking their clothes off and now have to find something else to do, possibly involving their brains, creativity and imagination. I don’t care if Page 3 is an institution. Time’s up.

You can start by signing HERE.


  1. "When something’s a bit of fun, there is no need to point it out. Fun is one of those wonderfully self-evident things."

    How beautifully stated.

  2. Bloody brilliant. Thank you.

  3. I love that post. I am similarly passionate about the topic. Thank you for posting it.