Happy Birthday No More Page 3 !

Not The News in Briefs

I wrote this blog a whole year ago, to celebrate the first birthday of the NoMorepage3 Campaign and the diversity of its supporters. Whilst I would rather there not be the need for a second birthday, this year there is even more to celebrate. Signatures stand at over 200,000, the campaign has attracted support from many more politicians, including Ed Milliband, more and more groups and associations, such as the Girls Brigade and Mumsnet have added their voices, and the media coverage has grown and grown. On top of that, the Sun’s Irish edition has dropped the Page3 feature, and, despite increasingly desperate efforts at promotion such as the misguided CheckemTuesday feature and the failed World Cup giveaway, sales of the Sun have been decreasing all year.The NoMorePage3 Campaign has sponsored some fantastic women sports stars: Cheltenham Town Ladies FC, Nottingham Forest Ladies FC and Scottish mountain biking champion Lee…

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The Boy in the Newsagents

A few days ago I had what I like to call ‘a Page 3 experience’, and I posted an account of it on the NoMorePage3 Facebook page. This is it:

‘I was in London the other day and popped in to a local newsagents, which was one of those that has the newspapers displayed on the counter in front of you, next to the till. I was waiting to pay and in front of me were two children, seemingly brother and sister: the boy was about ten and the girl about thirteen. They were paying for some sweets, and as the woman put their money in the till I noticed the boy stealing a sideways glance at his sister. He then quickly turned over the front page of the Sun on the counter right in front of him, and displayed the Page 3 picture. His sister scolded him and the woman behind the till looked very disapproving, and the page was hastily closed again. The girl dragged the boy out of the shop, obviously angry with him. That incident sort of summed up why I support NMP3. The boy knew what he was doing was ‘naughty’ and also in some sense he knew he had power: he could annoy three women at once – myself, the shopkeeper and his sister, by doing what he did. Boys will always be naughty but the Sun provides them with the means and the permission to be naughty in a sexist way.’

The post generated so many negative comments along the lines of ‘You’re sexist for saying boys will always be naughty…’ that I thought I’d better explain my comments more fully.

In writing what I did I was very aware of the argument used against NMP3, that P3 does not ’cause’ bad behaviour, that people (men) would treat women the way they (some of them) do, with or without P3. In other words, P3 does not have a provable, causative, harmful effect, so we’re all wasting our time. My response to this is that images like P3 in the public space provide a background of acceptance for seeing women in a particular way, and therefore help to give (some) men permission to behave badly. It’s a ‘normalising’ image which makes it more difficult for women to feel like respected members of society. In telling my story I did not want to imply that P3 ’caused’ this boy’s behaviour, which is why I used the caveat ‘boys will always be naughty…’ to preface the particular ‘naughty’ that the boy was able to be that day. In retrospect I should have said ‘The Sun didn’t make this boy naughty but it provided him with the means to be naughty in a sexist way’. Which is what I meant.

The word ‘naughty’ by the way, was not supposed to be seen as a perjorative term: I use it as I would use ‘lively’, ‘mischievous’ ‘a scamp’ – in other words like most children are, or should be, as they go through childhood testing what’s acceptable amongst the adults around them. The boy’s behaviour was ‘normal’ – just the same as if he had hidden his sister’s sweets under the newspapers for example. The fault lies entirely with the Sun for giving him ‘permission’ to annoy his sister in that particular way. I was certainly not suggesting that only boys are naughty: of course girls are too, and a little girl in the same circumstances may well have hidden her big sister’s sweets as a joke. She is much more UNlikely to goad her sister with P3 though, and this is where the difference lies, and where it is relevant to single out boys for attention.

We debate all the time the subject of men’s treatment of women and why some men objectify or disrespect women and girls, and how that can lead to a greater acceptance of violence against them. So in my view, even though I did not want to come across as sexist against boys, the gender in this story is relevant. It is boys that grow up into men. Some attitudes start early and are conditioned by what is seen to be around and acceptable. Some people on the Facebook thread took exception to my suggestion that the boy knew he had power, and maybe in a short comment I didn’t explain this adequately. I said *in some sense* he knew he had power, because I don’t think he was necessarily conscious of it himself, but on a deeper level he was. In other words, something had already sunk in. He wasn’t deliberately being sexist but he knew what would upset his sister. He didn’t look so much at the image itself, but at his sister’s face to see her reaction to it.

For those people who have commented that this is all making a mountain out of a molehill, I might agree with you but for the fact that an innocuous little story about P3 in a  public space generated more adverse comments than I had expected, and even a little bit of hate. I had merely wanted to illustrate that (much like having P3 opened up in front of you on a train) a P3 experience is potentially always around the next corner, and can pop up when you’re least expecting it, or when you are not prepared for it. Just to recap – a 10 year old boy exposed a soft porn image in front of three females – an adolescent girl, a woman (me) old enough to be his mum and a woman (the shopkeeper) old enough to be his grandmother. I repeat, I am not blaming the boy or saying it was intentional, but that, simply, THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED. It would not have happened if there was not a soft porn image in the newspaper. The symbolic meaning of this is striking (to me), in a world where the visual plays a more and more important role in our lives, and symbolic meanings have impact. An undressed person amongst dressed people is a symbol of vulnerability, even without the sexual subtext, and will have more adverse impact on some people than others.

For myself, I am no longer personally affected by seeing P3 in a public place – followers of the campaign will know I like to get my camera out these days if someone dares to sit next to me on the train with a copy of the Sun. But I used to be; so I am doing this for my younger self, the one who did not dare to speak up, the one who felt bad, and humiliated, and sometimes even in danger. Without going into my own earlier experiences, I know that the woman behind the young boy, opening up the Sun to P3 as a joke, might be suffering from body dysmorphia or eating disorders, might have been left by her husband for a younger woman, might be taunted with P3 at home by her boyfriend, might be experiencing bullying on account of the size of her breasts, might be suffering from depression, might be a victim of sexual violence, might be a rape victim.

There was a time when that innocuous P3 experience would have caught me off guard and ruined the whole day for me. In today’s parlance it would have ‘triggered’ me. I would not have been able to write about it or risk sharing it with anybody else, let alone a group of strangers on Facebook. I am so thankful that I am stronger now, but on behalf of all those people out there who struggle with what P3- style sexist media triggers for them, I will continue to fight, and write, on behalf of this very wonderful campaign.

Please sign it here if you haven’t already done so:

 www.change.org/nomorepage3

An Object of Beauty is still an Object

Debating on behalf of the No More Page3 campaign can sometimes feel like a thankless task, but it certainly helps to hone your opinions and arguments when you are constantly challenged on your beliefs. I have been thinking lately about the argument that comes up time and time again about women who oppose Page3 as being ugly, bitter harridans, jealous of the models’ looks because they are not beautiful enough to be models themselves. This is in fact one of the most popular points of view expressed by opponents of the campaign, and it always makes me ponder, because a) it is one of the most popular points of view expressed by opponents of the campaign, and b) I am *actually* not beautiful enough to be a model myself. So – maybe they have a point…?

Well, except no…

I have thought carefully about whether or not I appreciate beauty enough, and whether my own lack of the required standard might influence my views. When I am told repeatedly by Page3 fans that it is a question of  ‘seeing, valuing and celebrating women’s beauty and sexuality’, it can make me feel a bit churlish for not joining the party, for miserably finding the whole premise problematic. Because the real question is not whether some women are ugly and therefore jealous of other women who are beautiful, it’s the fact that we are framing women in these terms at all. Hordes of people, as far as I know, aren’t spending all night on Twitter defending and arguing about MALE beauty. Beauty is a concept, and it is a concept which has traditionally been identified with the female, but it is still only a concept, divorced from a real human being. There have always been women famous for their beauty, from Helen of Troy onwards, and the idea of beauty being a female attribute which is desirable above all others has permeated art, literature and history throughout the ages. Conversely, and famously, Anne of Cleves was too ugly for Henry VIII to bear consummating his marriage to her. Female beauty is very very important. You don’t want to be one of the ugly ones.

When modern men talk about their right to look at beautiful sexy women, there is often the claim (the excuse) that this is a natural urge which historically men have always had, and that to go against it is somehow to go against nature itself. The argument is that men are hardwired to want to look at sexy women, to the point that it is cruel and unnatural to attempt to restrict their access by, say, removing a daily picture in a newspaper. Fair enough if you believe that, but to these men I say that in order for you to assert your ‘natural’ sexual characteristics, a woman often has to repress hers. It is not ‘natural’ for a woman to be an object: she may take the role in order to please a man, or to earn some money, but she is not ‘hardwired’ to do it. It is not ‘natural’ female sexuality to pose passively and obediently and to subsume her own desires in favour of the male’s. In the past the male of the species has been capable, I believe, of mating with a female without the benefit of readily-accessible images to feed his desire, despite all this talk of hardwiring and male ‘needs’.

What is undoubtedly natural is for people to fancy eachother and to want to have sex with eachother. Everything else is culturally determined, and therefore organised according to the prevalent beliefs of the day: homosexual and mixed-race relationships, adultery, monogamy, polygamy, covering up, letting it all hang out, being a ‘slut’ or a ‘prude’… all these ideas are invented and policed by the societies we live in, and are therefore changeable. The same goes for beauty and desirability: there is not one gold standard that men simply can’t resist, and there never has been. There are well-known examples of the lengths some cultures have gone to in order to constrain women’s lives with extreme and dangerous ideals of desirability: the Chinese practice of foot-binding, some African and Asian societies’ elongating neck rings, and the practice of female genital mutilation are all examples of the ways in which women have been forced to conform to a damaging ideal in order to be attractive to a potential husband. I’m guessing that the men who claim that their love of Page3 is only natural male behaviour are not ALSO lusting after the above examples of beauty. That will be because it’s not natural, it’s culturally conditioned.

In our own culture the beautiful, sexy, desirable attributes of women have been commodified to the point where often the real woman is left behind. Whereas Cleopatra for example was a woman *renowned for* her beauty (that is, a woman first), today Page 3 gives us the beauty without the woman: beauty (or ‘hotness’) has become an end in itself and the individual has been erased. Tina, 19, from Weymouth, doesn’t really exist, she’s become the sum of her parts, interchangeable with other young women who fit the template. This ‘ideal’ is as manufactured as the other examples of female beauty mentioned above. Today’s beautiful women are constrained by the need to be waxed and groomed to acceptable modern standards, to the point where there is a widely held disgust for natural female body hair even for those women (the majority) who are not in the beauty business. The ‘correct’ body type has been selected and repeatedly refined so that it now rules out 95% of women. Cosmetic surgery and invasive procedures are acceptable and promoted, so that the idea of cutting a body up for the sake of beauty is becoming normalised. The boob job has replaced foot-binding as the acceptable face of female bodily mutilation in the quest for desirability.

When certain sexist men take up the subject of FGM as their feminist cause celebre, I can’t help feeling that they do so partly because they don’t stand to lose anything by it. It is not their culture so it is not their sexual ideal that is being challenged. When they use the FGM issue to throw ridicule on the NoMorePage3 campaign, as Neil Wallis, former deputy editor of the Sun, is fond of doing, I am even more suspicious. At the risk of generating a few ”NMP3ers say Page3 causes FGM!!!” headlines, I would say there is a link between cultures which are prescriptive about the representation of female sexuality to the point where surgical procedures are a normal part of the picture. The more that men like Neil Wallis insist upon their right to view photos of slim, large-breasted, airbrushed, photoshopped, clear-skinned and glossy-haired young white women every day over their morning coffee, the more they are encouraging the view that to attain acceptable standards of beauty today a little bit of surgery might be needed. But to acknowledge that possibility would be to risk losing the privilege of access to your particular sexual preferences.

What starts off looking like a celebration of female beauty and sexuality quite clearly becomes an issue of power and control when challenged, and in a culture plastered with a wallpaper of sexualised images of women it is hard to stand up and be the ‘ugly’ one. When I argue against Page 3 I am quite sure I am not arguing against beauty. To ‘celebrate’ women by erasing what makes them unique and insisting they conform to an increasingly narrow ideal is to promote their object-ness, and as a woman myself I’ve always had the radical idea that I am human.  I love beauty as much as the next person, but an object of beauty is still an object.

 

 

 

Page 3 on a Train

I got a lot of flack last week for taking a photo of a man reading Page 3 on a train, and then posting the photo on social media. Even though the Sun reader himself wasn’t in the photo: it was just the newspaper splayed across his knees open at Page 3, a few people took exception to the ‘invasion of a stranger’s privacy’ and accused me of public harassment and of spying on a member of the public. The state of my mental health has also come under question several times. Personally, I was pleased with the photo: I thought it captured that moment very well where a man *gets on a train, sits next to a random woman and displays a soft porn image right in front of her face*. I thought I might call the photo ”If You Don’t Like It Don’t Buy It”, in a kind of ironic way, because OF COURSE it proves the point that Page 3 can be, and is, seen by people who have not chosen to view it. Actually I was quite lucky that this experience, which many of us have had so many times, happened to me at a time when a) I had my camera phone with me, and b) I was feeling confident and bolshy enough to use it. The Sun reader didn’t even notice. Too busy looking at tits I expect.

Page 3 on a train

Anyway, the usual arguments ensued – is it porn, isn’t it porn, why does it matter etc etc, and that pejorative word ‘offended’ kept being used, as in: ‘Just because you’re OFFENDED by the sight of a pair of tits, it doesn’t give you the right to blah blah blah..’ Hot on the heels of the ‘offended’ word often comes the advice to JUST look the other way, ignore it, grow up, get a grip… and if you’re really lucky the trusty old Diet-Coke-Man and David-Beckham-in-his-pants examples are trotted out to show that men get it too but they’re just better at dealing with it than us. More mature. Less insecure. Less easily ‘offended’. What really IS the problem with catching sight of Page 3 on a train? How IS that offensive?

Well I agree that all else being equal, and, say, the history of misogyny not being what it is, and gender relations not being a bit one-sided, then it would be a bit of an over-reaction to get all hot and  bothered about one picture of a topless woman accidentally glimpsed in a public place. But however much you try to invoke the image of a kind of delicate Victorian sensibility, blushing and fanning and reaching for the smelling salts at the sight of a nipple, the fact is that there is a historical context to female sexual objectification which gives it a meaning, and there are valid reasons why a woman might find it genuinely threatening to come across soft porn in a public place. A lot of men understand this and would not wish to be the source of a strange woman’s discomfort or embarrassment, but there are some that persist in minimising the problem, based on the fact that they were once unsettled by a picture of a hunk on the front of Men’s Health magazine, and GOT OVER IT.

These men remind me of the worst kind of white tourist, who feels entitled to say, after a two week safari holiday in Kenya, that they REALLY UNDERSTAND racism now, and how it feels to be in a minority ethnic group, and what THEY’D do when faced with a racist slur, would be to just ignore it, work at feeling good about yourself, nobody can MAKE you feel bad unless you let them…

Or the kind of government minister who, for a gimmick, spends a week living on benefits, and comes out feeling able to give advice on how to choose cheap fresh ingredients (it’s not that difficult!) and cook from scratch, in order to make the budget go further…

Or the girl in Pulp’s ‘Common People’ who fancies a bit of rough for a while, but never has to ‘watch her life slide out of view’ because at the end of the day Daddy’s there to bail her out…

So, that’s what I think of you, you men who think women are overreacting, making it up, being over sensitive or insecure – I think for a start that you’d have to experience a lifetime of being underrepresented except as a sexual object, frequently marginalised in other roles; as well as an awareness of your physical weakness compared to the opposite sex, and a whole load of rape and violence statistics that weren’t in your favour. And because breasts are the sexual feature that women are judged on by size, you’d have to see MASSIVE COCKS  every day in the newspaper, and frequently encounter women rating you on the size of yours and making it the butt of their jokes.

And if you don’t experience that, or you don’t possess enough empathy to be able to imagine it, then you are just a tourist in the world of sexual objectification, and at the end of the day you know you can always go home. Why not take the train?

 

If you don’t want to see Page 3 on a train you can sign the petition here

Why Page 3 is Porn and Why That Matters

When you take it upon yourself to argue in favour of the No More page 3 Campaign, there are a few things that come up time and time again from detractors keen to defend their daily dose of soft porn. And one of the most frequent claims is that it’s not porn at all. This is interesting because it suggests that defenders (as I will now be calling them) think of porn as a bad thing, or at least as something that will be perceived as a bad thing, and they do not want to be associated with defending a bad thing. This is understandable, as the porn in question is available daily in the public space where it intrudes upon people who do not wish to see it, AND, crucially, children are exposed to it. Nobody wants to defend something that puts children and porn into the same sentence, do they?

A quick hike through some online dictionaries gives us a few different definitions of porn :

  • creative activity of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire
  • pictures etc that show or describe naked people in a very open and direct way in order to cause sexual excitement
  • softcore generally contains nudity or partial nudity in sexually suggestive situations but not explicit sexual activity

Seems to me like those definitions might describe Page 3…

It is clear that Page 3 occupies the ‘soft’ end of the spectrum, but it is also clear that it is part of a continuum which has at its other end the really nasty hardcore gonzo stuff, and that it is this association which the defenders want to distance themselves from.

So, if it’s not porn what is it…?

I am frequently told that it is a celebration of beauty, and of female sexuality, and it is the admiration of these things that draws the fans. In order to distance themselves from the more grubby pornographic wank-fodder aspect of things, some fans wax lyrical about the beauty, bravery (?) and sexual freedom Page 3 represents, with the models as some sort of crusading heroines of repressed female sexuality, doing us all a favour with their body confidence and free spirit paving the way for sexual equality…

That’s just rubbish of course. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder sure enough, but for me it is always rooted in humanity. And the thing that makes these pictures porn rather than beauty is the lack of a human personality. If you were to ask someone to imagine a Page 3 picture most people would be able to come up with a picture in their mind, and most of these pictures would be remarkably similar. The models themselves have undoubtedly got various differing personalities but we are never allowed to see them on page 3. The whole point of the photos is to provide a blank canvas for fantasy, and this they do very well. The models have to fit a rather narrow stereotype of the currently fashionable body-shape, but other than that they could be anyone. They are interchangeable because they are not allowed any character of their own. This is de-humanising, and it is hard to see beauty in that. This is the whole meaning of the word ‘objectification’, which is frequently bandied about unthinkingly, but actually means that a person is stripped of not just their clothes but also what it is that makes them human. Why would you do that? The only reason in this context is to provide a vehicle for sexual fantasy which is unencumbered by anything resembling an individual person with their messy and inconvenient needs.

If I wanted to celebrate beauty in a national newspaper I would want to PROMOTE what makes that individual beautiful in their own way, including their particular personality and character and all the things that go to make up a special human being.

So, if it’s not beauty then…

ART! That’s the other thing! It’s art! This is another argument I have heard many times, and I would like to put that one to rest once and for all. Art, by definition, attempts to tell a truth about the world. There are varying degrees of success in this endeavour, but the greatest art illuminates a universal human truth, and the aim of all art is to search for and tell this truth. Porn, on the other hand, tells a lie. Even soft porn. The pose, the sultry expression in the eyes, the slightly parted lips, all tell the lie that the woman is sexually ready and available. It’s not true – she’s just getting paid to do it. It’s not art, it’s commerce. Now this wouldn’t matter so much if you just admitted it was porn and you used it to help you get your rocks off, but you can’t admit that and then defend its position in a daily newspaper seen by millions, without seeming a bit pervy.

Hence the sometimes hilarious tying-themselves-in-knots arguments about higher things like beauty and freedom of expression that some defenders spend hours of their free time trying to justify themselves with. Art and beauty are not things that most of us would wish hidden. We can come across those things in a public space without feeling embarrassed, uncomfortable, threatened or violated. They are not used (generally) as tools to bully or abuse. Many women, if they don’t actively dislike it, are resigned to putting up with Page 3, because it is perceived to be something that men want which we can’t change. A lot of us instinctively know the difference between Page 3 and any other image in the public space, even if we can’t always articulate it.

Page 3 is not an expression of free unfettered female sexuality, it’s not a celebration of beauty, it’s not art, IT’S A JOB. And it’s not even very well paid.

www.nomorepage3.org

Dear Mr Cameron

Dear Mr Cameron

I note your views about the difference between soft porn in newspapers and the more hard core variety to be found on the internet :http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/nov/22/david-cameron-page-3?CMP=twt_fd. I agree with you that children need to be protected from the more extreme and upsetting subject matter that they can ‘stumble across’ whilst searching for other things, because they are children and some of these images can be traumatising, even to adults. Children are not equipped to deal with such subject matter and it is right to attempt to limit their accidental exposure to it.

However, I disagree with your views about pornographic images of women in newspapers, such as the Sun’s Page 3. Your assertion that parents can control their children’s access to these images has been proved wrong time and time again by all the testimonies from contributors to the NoMorePage3 campaign, the Child Eyes campaign, Page 3 Stories and the Everyday Sexism project. Women, and men, keep telling you that they cannot control their children’s access to Page 3 porn, because it is found everywhere that you would expect to find a newspaper – cafes, takeaways, hotels, public transport…I’m sure you’ve heard all this before. It cannot be emphasised enough that it is BECAUSE IT IS IN A NEWSPAPER that we have no control over it. We cannot demand that someone stops reading a NEWSPAPER! You yourself used the NEWSPAPER defence when replying to Caroline Lucas’s request that the Sun should not be available on the parliamentary estate while it continues to display naked women. OF COURSE you have a right to read all the NEWSPAPERS, anyone suggesting differently must be anti-democratic. So, just as a woman at work (even an MP) has no control over whether or not she views porn in her working day, so it is with parents sitting with their children next to a Sun reader on the bus, or in the cafe. The newspapers, and freedom of the press in a free society, are sacrosanct, and we as women and children are powerless against it.

As I said, I think you’ve heard all these arguments before, so let me try a different tack. If, as you yourself has said, parents should just ‘turn the page’ when children are around, there is some agreement here that the images are unsuitable for children, and potentially damaging. This is, after all, why we have the watershed on television, to protect children from subject matter they are not equipped to deal with. Parents who ignore the protection put in place by society, and let their children stay up all night watching inappropriate material, are widely seen as not doing their job properly. I would say that parents who buy the Sun, and leave it lying around the family home, are equally failing in their duty, but they can do this with impunity BECAUSE IT IS A NEWSPAPER. I know I keep emphasising this, but it really is the main point….

So, as I’m sure you can see, the problem becomes not just one of what your own children are growing up to find normal, but what other people’s children are internalising and learning from. You are aware I know of many recent reports charting the relationship between the sexualisation and objectification of women in the media and the legitimising and normalising of discrimination and violence against women. (See the UK CEDAW report on the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women of April 2013, the Bailey Sexualisation of Young People Review of 2010 and the Leveson report and recommendations of 2012 if you’d forgotten about these).

My argument against Page 3 then is not so much to do with the harm caused to children by accidental viewing of pornographic material. Page 3 is tame compared to what is available on the internet, and most children are not going to be severely traumatised by glancing at a pair of breasts in their neighbour’s newspaper on the bus. They are, however, likely to grow up with some strongly reinforced messages about what it means to be a woman, and what is valued about women, in the society they have been born into. This is damaging for all of us, but particularly women. The policeman who deals with your rape allegation, the jurors at your trial and the journalists who report on it are all to some extent conditioned by the norms of the society they grew up in, and if this includes a daily dose of scantily-clad, always up for it, tits-out-for-the-lads view of women, then this does not  promote equality for women within the law. The earlier in life this becomes your blueprint, the more danger there is of you being brainwashed, and that is what, for me, is the main problem with our Page 3 culture.

Here’s a little anecdote to end with …

During the NoMorePage3 43rd birthday peaceful protest in Brighton last weekend I was approached by two 10-year old boys. They asked me why I wanted rid of Page 3, and seemed genuinely interested in my reply. I told them about the inequality fostered by the oversexualised portrayal of women in the press, and a little about how that makes girls feel, and about the context of it being freely available in a newspaper. I spoke to them respectfully and they listened intently. Then, when I’d finished, they looked at eachother and smirked a bit. One of them then explained to me, carefully, as though to an idiot, that the Sun was CHEAPER than buying a magazine, and they were only schoolboys so they couldn’t afford to spend any more money on pictures like that…DUH! They departed, giggling, and I was left feeling like the idiot they’d taken me for. I think these boys’ sense of entitlement to a woman’s body at such a young age is deeply troubling, but it is the attitude engendered by Page 3 and its ilk, and in that sense is hardly surprising.

What do you think, Mr Cameron? Do you still think that parents can control their children’s access to newspaper porn? Do you still think it’s a problem primarily for children?  And at what age does it become ‘appropriate’ to objectify women?

I look forward to your considered response.

Yours respectfully etc etc.

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-dinsmore-take-the-bare-boobs-out-of-the-sun-nomorepage3

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/edward-timpson-mp-make-it-illegal-to-display-porn-around-children www.childeyes.org @ChildEyesUK

A Lifetime of Page 3

When Page 3 first started in the 1970s I was just approaching adolescence. I remember it well (it was in black and white back then) . I was at secondary school and there was some building work being done on a part of the school that I had to walk past every morning on the way in. The group of builders working there would talk to me and my friends each morning and we were flattered to get this attention from older men : it made us feel grown-up. They always read the Sun and they started showing Page 3 to us and asking what we thought about that day’s model. Everyone seemed to be cool about it so I pretended to be cool too, but actually I felt embarrassed and humiliated. I was a late developer (still waiting…) and the images made me feel inadequate. I realise now that everyone else was probably also putting on an act to impress the older men, and may not have been comfortable either. I also realise in retrospect that it was probably a turn-on for these men to have the opportunity to present a sexualised image to schoolgirls and watch their reaction.

One of the reasons I was unable to complain was that these images were in a national newspaper, and therefore condoned (or so it seemed) by society. It was ‘normal’, so obviously I was the one who was ‘abnormal’ to be bothered by it. I couldn’t risk being the only one who didn’t like it…

Fast forward to a more recent experience : it was my fiftieth birthday and as a treat my partner booked a weekend away in the country. We were staying in a lovely old pub and on the Saturday night we were sitting in the bar having a drink to celebrate my birthday. There were several men in the room but I was the only woman. I was looking pretty good – it was my birthday : I’d made an effort! One of the men sitting at the bar was looking at the Sun newspaper. Suddenly he turned round to the room, displayed the Page 3 picture that he’d been looking at, and said, ‘Cor…you’d have to go a long way to find a woman like THAT…!’ He was addressing all the men in the bar (my bloke included), as if I didn’t exist. I had heard that women over fifty become invisible, but this was  rather too abrupt  for my liking. I’d only JUST turned fifty…! AND I was looking good that night…(I really had made an effort…). He, by the way, was probably in his late sixties, grossly overweight and sweaty : hardly a catch. But he felt entitled to assess, and comment on, the hotness of a half-naked young woman, PUBLICLY, in front of another woman, VERY rudely, because Page 3 allows some men to think they can do that.

When I was a young woman I felt too embarrassed about my developing body to kick up a fuss. Now I’m older I don’t care so much about kicking up a fuss, but I realise my opinions don’t count any more, because, whatever my other attributes and achievements, I am no longer in possession of a young pair of breasts…

SO! There you have it! It doesn’t matter about your age, or your circumstances… Whether you’re fifteen or fifty, there will be a Page 3 experience tailored to suit YOU!!!

If you haven’t signed the petition yet, here it is :

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-dinsmore-take-the-bare-boobs-out-of-the-sun-nomorepage3