I love keeping up with current affairs. I’ve always had that picture of my future family, sitting around the breakfast table. Me, reading the Sunday papers, the kids, most probably, spilling cereal over the floor and my partner looking the other way or possibly holding his head in his hands and wondering where it all went wrong. I like to ensure that even my fantasies have a tone of realism to them.
Picture the scene: Let’s say, for some bizarre reason, my paper one morning is The Sun (ridiculous, I know), my child (gender is irrelevant) decides to flick through the pages after me. “Mummy, what does this lady do in the news? Is she important?” He/she says as they point at a naked breast on Page 3. What answer will I give? No, seriously, write suggestions below, the more parenting advice I have now the better it is for the future. Yesterday I gave a 2 year old a tube of Smarties…
Perhaps I would spend some time creating an elaborate, potentially newsworthy, story about why this woman appears to have lost her clothes in between questionable journalism on immigration and cringeworthy headlines about politicians. If it was just bad journalism, I’d let it be. I’m not a fan, but I wouldn’t question its existence. But it’s not bad journalism, It’s an entire page spread, that could actually be for, well, news, instead being used to objectify a woman.
I used to work in a grocers during my degree and I would pain me to see that we would have copies of every paper left at the end of a shift, except The Sun or The Daily Star. I would have kids coming in picking up morning rolls, a 10p Fredo and a copy of that paper. I would wonder, after every single child left, whether they looked through it, what they thought and why nobody even blinked.
Fast forward 9 years and I am sitting with my niece and she is explaining the same thoughts and feelings. She worked in a newsagent this summer between terms and explained to me the difficulty she had with having to put Nuts magazine on a shelf or selling The Sun and its Page 3 contents. “This makes me feel nauseous.” A generation has come along and grown up, and here we are taking about the same thing. Isn’t society meant to progress? How am I having this conversation in 2012?
It’s a side of misogyny on your morning commute. A piece of objectivism alongside your morning coffee. It is blatant sexism and yet, it has been there since 1970, almost unquestioned.
But people have cared. Campaigns have come, and unfortunately gone, trying to take on this media giant. They have, of course, failed for several reasons. The Sun knows how to mock and will belittle anyone who questions them and with a huge following across the UK; The Sun writes it and people believe it. Remember that time they supported the Tories…
Any time a woman campaigner or politician takes this issue on, for instance, Harriet Harman, The Sun outdoes itself on self-pitying journalism. Time and time again, women campaigners and politicians are called ‘frigid’ or ‘anti-fun’ in a bid to make them sound like silly little women who shouldn’t be taken seriously. That, apparently, is journalism folks.
The Sun often refers to the Page 3 models as ‘Our girls’ (Eugh. I just tasted my breakfast again) and calls it an institution or tradition of Britain. Really? Is that what we want people to think? A tradition is something you are proud of, something you pass on to others. This is not it. Page 3 needs to go.
But The Sun isn’t even all that nice about “their girls” who they want to protect from these nasty man-hating feminists. In every picture the
girls women, they are WOMEN, are mocked. The quotes next to their pretty little heads are paragraphs manufactured by writers on everything from science to immigration. Why do you think they do that? Because they want people to know how intelligent these women are? No. They are mocking them. I’m sure these women have many intelligent opinions, but that’s not what is going on. I doubt anyone even asked what they thought about the pole they are grinding in their latest picture. Read more here. It’s brilliant.
Now seems the time for it. There has been a feminist revolution on Page 3 of late, pushing people to protest and petition its existence. With just under 7,500 signatures at my last check, this could be the campaign that does it. Fingers crossed.
Page 3 is a very real and very clear (usually also very plastic and large) illustration of the sexism that exists in 2012. It reminds us, every single day, that women are still considered objects and we are still in a society that thinks this is ok. Every time someone buys The Sun, every time someone ignores the campaign and every time someone calls it a ‘harmless bit of fun’ they are buying into this misogyny and they are playing into the hands of sexist journalism. It’s time it stopped.
You can sign the petition here: Dominic Mohan: Take the bare boobs out of The Sun
You can follow the campaign here: @NoMorePage3
Sign it, share it, stop it.
P.S As I wrote this, the boiler-fixing man (who made me take off any time of working between 9am and 6pm) asked why I was huffing and sighing. I explained what I was writing about and he said “Aye, that stuff is shameful, it’s why I don’t buy it nae more”. He now has a biscuit with his tea.