THE BLOG

The Effect of the Sun's Page Three On UK Society

23/12/2013 14:10 GMT | Updated 18/02/2014 10:59 GMT

We all know sex sells but the topless women pictured on The Sun's Page 3 are being objectified - not treated as real and normal human beings. There is no doubt the women are doing it out of free will but it is all about context as a NEWSpaper.

The whole objectification of women reflects badly on society; it suggests that breasts are all a man thinks about. (Hmm, boobs ... I digress) ... We men are not such a simple commodity: for example, we do think about other body parts as well! In a society where we are striving for equality, as demonstrated in the soon-to-be-passed equal marriage bill, how does this attitude still have a place in today's world? Clearly, it doesn't.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against breasts at all: they are one of my favourite things in the whole world. The Sun is simply not the right context for them to be displayed to the wider public. If there is a law that requires 'lads' mags' to be sold only to those 16 and over, how can we reconcile this with a 5 year old having easy access to the Sun? Where's the logic in that? It's not so simple as some have claimed that if you 'don't like it, don't buy it.' It is everywhere: it's left on the train, on the bus, in all public places. It's difficult to avoid. Equally, what about children coming across the Sun; what about the feelings of the 12 year old girl that isn't buying it but are being compared to this so-called 'model woman'? Children are at the centre of the issue: their innocence should not be under threat. We don't need generations of girls and boys affected by the many issues attached to Page 3. As adults, it is our duty to speak on their behalf.

Again, people say, what about free press? Well, there is no change in the law being asked for; there is no government sanction being proposed. Simply that the editor apply his own free will to choose to change the paper for the better.

Some people describe Page 3 described as a part of 'British culture': the same could be said of Scottish culture and some Scots' hatred of English people because of wars hundreds of years ago. Surely, it's ridiculous to keep something just because you are used to it, when there are good arguments against it. Sexism and misogyny are real issues in the UK. You might not be personally aware of it but that doesn't mean it's not happening. 'Slut shaming', casual street harassment, sexual harassment in clubs and revenge porn are to name a few. 'Jim will fix it' is certainly out the window as an option. Britain has become blasé about attitudes as to what is appropriate. This doesn't mean that all nudity and sex-related matters should be confined to the attic or museum. It's about allowing men and women to express themselves sexually in an appropriate way.

There are other issues that relate to young people. The Sun is exacerbating many issues faced by young people in portraying young girls with big breasts as both normal and the ideal. This can affect the self-esteem of girls and young women, giving them a negative body image, which can lead to self-harm and depression. Puberty is hard enough without all these extra pressures. To men, it can also give a false depiction of women, promoting an image that this is what all men should like, that huge breasts are common and that other forms of beauty are not desirable. Of course, this can be seen as a generalisation: many will not be affected by this image and not every man reading the Sun is cultivating a sexist and pre-rape vegetative state.

Even if it is a minority in society, we should be doing what we can to help those who are 'susceptible' to this line of thought. Of course, Page 3 is not solely responsible for all of society's problem, but surely it's obvious that it has its part to play.

Government spokesmen even say big words about it: 'there is a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm'.

Instead, The Sun could do marvellous things for gender equality and women by representing their strong and capable attributes. They could make this change to create positive role models for girls, something many girls cry out for, rather than being regarded as sexually available anatomical bodies primarily for a man's gratification. Gone are the grimy days of the 1970s when Page 3 began. Even the Daily Mirror stopped in the 1980s. The attitude that it is 'just harmless fun' is exactly the attitude that needs to be tackled as newspapers do play a part in forming people's views, politically or otherwise. Clearly, there are bigger issues for society, but we can't all campaign for the same thing. Imagine it was a topless or revealing picture of a man. How different would that be and how obvious does that make it that a topless woman definitely is regarded by our society as little more than a sexual image. A lot has changed, yes, but that's not a reason to stop progress now.