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

Advertisements

Happy Birthday No More Page 3 !

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 Craigie all now wear NMP3 kit. Over the year lots of regional NMP3 groups have sprung up to capitalise on local support and bring fresh energy and ideas to the campaign. More than all that though is the raising of consciousness which has been achieved by this campaign: media sexism is a talking point again and is part of a bigger picture where women’s lives and voices are being listened to and debated. It’s a very exciting time and the NMP3 campaign has added hugely to it. Here’s what I wrote a year ago, with thanks to all you diverse and wonderful supporters out there, and to the team at HQ that work so tirelessly for all of us:

I have been following the No More Page 3 campaign for a year now, ever since its inception in August 2012. I have watched it grow from a few signatures and Lucy Anne Holmes all on her own, to over 115,000 signatures and a whole team of dedicated campaigners. I have followed the website, the blog, Twitter and Facebook, I have joined in many discussion threads and I have read many articles and blogs that the campaign has linked to or recommended. I have been to a flash mob, to an NUJ event on media sexism and a fantastic Stand up for Women comedy gig, and I’ve met lots of lovely people (that’s YOU, the nmp3 team…!)

It has been a fantastic year, to witness the growth of a movement, and to hear women’s voices, from all backgrounds and walks of life, all coming together to denounce the outmoded sexism of Page 3, and to do something about it. In the process this brilliant campaign has garnered the support of celebrities, charities, unions and the Girl Guides, amongst others, and has had increasing media attention. This subject is now well and truly on the agenda : thanks to the hard work of all involved, it will not go away!

So it AMAZES me that there are still people out there who characterise the campaigners as a group of hairy, ugly, jealous, humourless feminists… The one thing the group ISN’T is one-dimensional, consisting as it does of a huge range of people with different experiences and reasons for signing. So I thought it would be nice to celebrate the campaign’s birthday by making a list of all the different reasons for support that I have noticed throughout the year, and in that way celebrate the diversity of the people who have become involved in the campaign and contributed to it.

So – here’s my list. It is by no means a comprehensive survey, I’ve probably left some people out, and I apologise in advance for any lazy, inaccurate cultural stereotyping…  But here goes :

  • Teachers : ‘Images like this can be brought into school and they are partly responsible for an increase in sexual bullying’
  • Politicians : ‘Exploitation and early sexualisation of girls creates a problem for society’
  • Men : ‘We want the women in our lives to be treated with respect’
  • Women of colour : ‘It’s another expression of the white beauty ideal – it’s racist as well as sexist’
  • Breast-feeding mums : ‘The over-sexualisation of breasts makes it more difficult to breast-feed in public’
  • *even some* Sun readers : ‘Not bothered about the boobs to be honest, I mainly buy it for the football’
  • Feminists : ‘Unequal representation of women – men are usually pictured fully-dressed but women have to be half-naked’
  • Psychologists : ‘Sexual objectification leads to negative stereotyping and the risk of stereotype threat’
  • People of faith : ‘Sex is a private matter between consenting adults within a loving relationship’
  • Parents : ‘We don’t want our kids to come across these images in cafes, trains and other public places where people leave them’
  • The body-concious : ‘I don’t want to be reminded of my imperfections every day’
  • Women’s groups : ‘ Over-sexual representation of women can provide a context in which rape culture can flourish’
  • Social historians : ‘The Sun’s decision to provide soft porn in a newspaper paved the way for the re-branding of porn in lads mags’
  • *even some* Glamour models : ‘It’s not glamorous, it’s demeaning’
  • The working class : ‘Don’t patronise us with boobs in the paper!’
  • Prudes : ‘Disgusting!’
  • Guardian readers : ‘The whole paper is scum, get rid of all the other pages while you’re at it’
  • Artists : ‘Beauty is the human body as nature intended it, not the airbrushed, photoshopped version’
  • Health professionals : ‘Seeing over-idealised body shapes all the time can lead to problems such as depression and eating disorders’
  • Lesbian/gay/bi/trans people : ‘Heteronormative!’
  • Philosophers : ‘In an arena set aside for ‘news’ this is essentially a lie being told every day’
  • Young people : ‘Is that what we have to aspire to…?’
  • Older people : ‘It was bad enough when it was just the Sun, but now it’s the Star and the Sport as well’
  • Even older people : ‘Put them away love, you’ll catch your death…’
  • People who love sex : ‘It pushes the idea of a narrow male fantasy rather than celebrating female sexuality’
  • Family members : ‘I wouldn’t want it to be my mother/sister/daughter’
  • Foreign visitors: ‘You still have naked ladies in the NEWSpaper?? WE stopped doing that YEARS ago…!’
  • And then there’s me – I’m one of those humourless strident feminists. Well, somebody’s got to be…

PS If you haven’t signed the NoMorePage3 campaign yet here’s the link https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-dinsmore-take-the-bare-boobs-out-of-the-sun-nomorepage3

What to do with Page 3…

The No more page 3 campaign was started almost a year ago, in the 2012 summer of the Olympics, by Lucy Anne Holmes. For her, the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, was the fact that on the day after Jessica Ennis won gold, the largest picture of a woman in the Sun newspaper was a Page 3 girl.

Think about that for a moment.

Jessica Ennis had spent the last few years sacrificing everything to achieve that peak physical perfection needed to win gold : punishing training regime, restricted social life, huge amounts of self-sacrifice, self-discipline and determination… And it all comes good, and the whole country is ecstatic and she is a true modern heroine.

And in the Sun newspaper she is overshadowed by a woman whose main achievement is that she HAS BREASTS.

It is truly awful when you think about it, isn’t it, what the Sun thinks women are good for… And what they think about women’s achievements and where they stand in the pecking order. The editorial meeting that day must have gone something like this :

‘gold medal / tits…  *weighing it up in the balance*  … gold medal / tits,   gold medal / tits….  yep, let’s go with the tits…’

Another campaign currently in the news is the attempt by Caroline Criado- Perez to get the Bank of England to recognise women’s achievements in another arena – that of the depiction of national figures on banknotes. When Elisabeth Fry is replaced by Winston Churchill on the five pound note there will be no woman on a banknote except for the Queen, and she doesn’t count because she is THE MONARCH and the monarch is ALWAYS on the banknotes, gender notwithstanding. So what does this say about women, our achievements and our place in society? Or, more to the point, what does it say about what the Bank of England powers-that-be think about women’s value?

Not much it seems : their views sound very similar  to the views of the Sun’s new editor and editorial team. The Sun newspaper and the Bank of England –  These two out-of-touch, behind the times, male-dominated institutions have a lot in common. They should get together…

Oh hang on…

(And this is so obvious I’m surprised nobody’s come up with it yet)…

Here’s a solution :

I support the No More Page 3 campaign  AND the banknotes campaign – LETS GET TOGETHER! Lets think about the message these two venerable old male institutions are telling us! Take it on board! Embrace it! There’s a solution here to please everyone! We DON’T want sexist images in our newspapers but we DO want to celebrate the contribution of women in our society on a banknote! And we are all now aware of what that major contribution is, thanks to the Sun!  SO… LET’S TAKE THE PAGE 3 GIRL OUT OF THE NEWSPAPER AND PUT HER ON A BANKNOTE!!

Now – who wants to join my campaign…?

 

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

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/bank-of-england-keep-a-woman-on-english-banknotes