No More Page 3 campaign. Their petition, calling for the end of Page 3 in The Sun now has well over 100,000 signatures and support for the campaign is growing on an hourly basis thanks to word of mouth, the power of social media and the incredible campaign savvy of Lucy Holmes and everyone who has helped to make No More Page 3 a sustained call for change. Now, I have nothing against breasts at all. In fact, I've got some of my own and we get along quite well. I do, however, struggle with the notion of Page Three and everything that it represents.
First and foremost, The Sun chooses to title itself as a newspaper, and the last time I checked, boobs were not news. 'Breaking news, here are some boobs! Who cares about war, politics or the global financial crisis?!' Not something you'd hear on the 6 O'clock bulletin is it? Now here's a revelation: women, who make up just under half of the global population, have breasts. Anatomically speaking, men have them too. Does that make them more or less newsworthy?
Speaking of anatomy, boobs are something of a biological necessity. Going back to basics, they have been essential in ensuring the survival of the human population for centuries upon centuries upon centuries. Perhaps less significant now, but pretty interesting when you think about the distorted, sexualised images which are published in The Sun on a day in, day out basis. As we learnt from Angelina Jolie's hugely courageous article this week, having breasts can sometimes even be life threatening. I wonder if The Sun would be so keen to publish a picture of a woman breastfeeding alongside one of their oh-so-witty Page Three headlines. Or even a picture of a mastectomy. Nah, didn't think so.
Which brings me nicely on to perhaps the most significant point which I want to make- that the images of women depicted in The Sun are grossly manipulated illustrations of femininity, perpetuating the idea that in order to have any value, a woman needs to be overtly sexualised and look a certain way- a canvas for the projection of the sexual fantasies of men. I've seen people arguing that Page 3 is great for promoting body confidence, for representing women as assured and assertive. Of course, body confidence is a deeply personal issue, and I'd never preemptively wish to generalise for the female population as a whole, but the way in which Page Three depicts women purely as sex objects, to be judged solely on the size of their boobs is something which doesn't really sit too well with promoting any kind of confidence, if you ask me. It's a perverse symptom of a society which perpetuates the idea that physical appearance is what quantifies you as a person. Now, I know that the wider media has a lot to answer for when we come to debates surrounding body image and distorted ideas of beauty, but there's no denying that Page 3 is a vehicle for promoting a hugely warped notion of womanhood and femininity.
The overt sexualisation of women in this way is something which goes hand in hand with a wider culture of female objectification, and is something which categorically has no place in the 21st century. Viewing women first and foremost as sex objects (as is the raison d'être of Page 3) inevitably gives rise to the perpetuation of pervasively sexualised, deeply misogynistic attitudes, and you only have to look at the number of sex crimes against women (and girls) which have made the headlines over recent months to recognise that objectification of this nature is deeply, perversely damaging. (FYI Dominic Mohan, this reporting is what I call real news.)
Put simply, Page 3 is an outdated, vacuous institution which has no place in a society which claims that men and women are equal. If we want to celebrate images of strong, confident femininity, let's publish pictures of female soldiers. Female athletes. Mothers. Suffragettes. Women who have the courage and conviction to stand up for change all over the world.
Just because something has existed for so long it doesn't mean it can't be changed. Sign the petition here.