The ‘No More Page 3’ campaign has gained even more momentum this week after tweets from committed NMP3 supporters finally resulted in a response from the man at the top.
Over the weekend Rupert Murdoch made remarks that revealed even he sees The Sun’s Page 3 as out-dated, and he obliquely stated that he is considering swapping Page 3 with a ‘half-way house’. Which prompts me to question a few things. Firstly, what does having a half-way house actually involve? Showing just one breast? If so, thanks Rupert, but no thanks. And just when are we going to join in this debate? Sheffield University have already declared a boycott of all newspapers that dedicate a page to the casual and blatant exploitation and objectification of women – namely The Sun and The Daily Star – and I think that it’s high time we at Swansea showed our support.
It’s quite obvious that what Murdoch intends to replace this institutionalised sexism with is, simply put, more of the same (but without the nipples), and for those of us who are committed to gender equality, this really won’t be good enough.
Page 3 has had its fair share of supporters- for example those who see the young women as role models for girls. Really? Is it just me or should we want girls to aim a bit higher than a job that is based solely around an accident of genetics that means they fit into the ‘female with large breasts and small waist’ category?
Other supporters of Page 3 have claimed that those opposed to it are merely sexually repressed. Again, really? Page 3 is known for its archetypal sexuality that essentially produces and prints the same narrow-minded example of a sexualised woman. So how many women of colour have appeared on Page 3? How many women over 30? How many women who weigh more than 9 stone? It seems that publications like The Sun sell an incredibly constricted version of female sexuality and exclude a great number of the population who are deemed ‘not worthy’ or beautiful enough to inhabit the space on Page 3 with their nude bodies.
This exclusion promotes an attitude that amounts to ‘if you’re not what we say is attractive, we don’t want to see or hear you’, and is still very present in our society today. Take, for example, the barrage of abuse that Mary Beard – beloved classicist and academic at Cambridge University – was subjected to after her quite valid and well researched comments made on BBC’s Question Time. Her view that the town of Lincoln had actually gained some benefits from immigration was met with messages declaring that she “needs a dick in her mouth” in order to “shut her up”. Threats of sexual assault as well as pornographic pictures with her face superimposed were made to suggest that she was ‘just’ a talking vagina. Similarly, Laurie Penny, an outspoken contributor for publications such as The Guardian and the New Statesman, revealed that she receives similar abuse on an almost constant basis. In a recent article in the New Statesman she gave an example of the kind of thing people say about her:
“Perhaps Sharia [law] might be a good thing after all, if Ms Penny was not allowed out without a member of her family and we did not have to look at her face, also we could stone her to death.”
I’m not suggesting that Page 3 is the sole motivator behind such attacks, but there is evidence that it is part of the fabric that re-enforces such views about women. The featured photograph of a birthday card made by the No More Page 3 campaign potrays how women in The Sun are portrayed as little more than bodies to be gawped at or held up as grotesque; with the implicit suggestion that women who have (shock-horror) aged or who don’t wish to starve themselves should stay out of the public eye.
“The Page 3 image is there for no other reason than the sexual gratification of men. She’s a sex object. But when figures range from 300,000 women being sexually assaulted, is it wise to be repeatedly perpetuating a notion that women are sexual objects?”
As a proposal is being put forward for Swansea University to join this campaign through the boycott of the aforementioned newspapers, I encourage students to show their support. Anyone who also wants to ‘get the bare boobs out of the news’ can sign the original ‘No More Page 3’ petition.
By Katie Jones