"Oh, bloody brilliant," my dad's friend Pete said. "End Page 3 and all them lovely lasses will be without a job. They choose to do it, you know. And they make good money, some of them, more than I ever made fitting carpets. That's feminism for you. How would you like it if somebody started a campaign saying you couldn't... that you weren't allowed to... what is it you do again?"
I get this a lot. Ever since I joined the team at No More Page 3, some people seem to think I'm on a mission to put women out of work. That I'm embarking on some sort of censorious quest to take people's liberties away. That I'm a weird Joan of Arc on a crusade against tits.
When, in actual fact, it's not like that at all.
I love breasts! I totally respect glamour models! Just last week I saw a Page Three feature and thought "Damn it Holly, 22 from Manchester, I would KILL to have your fringe," before realising that I own the same pants. The Page Three models are bloody good at what they do - anyone who has ever been photographed emerging from the sea, in full sun, in a Primark bikini will recognise this. However, I think it's wrong that these images are shown in Britain's most widely read newspaper.
I think it's wrong that the dominant image of a woman in The Sun is consistently one of a young, bare-breasted model posing in a thong because, when positioned alongside 'news' features that show men of all ages wearing all kinds of different clothes, and doing all kinds of different jobs, it sends a powerful message about a woman's position in society: that her primary role is to be sexually attractive to men.
This message was heard loud and clear within my group of friends. As kids in the Eighties we saw Page Three everywhere: in the newspapers in everybody's houses, in cafes, on buses, at school, in the doctor's waiting room. On calendars in our local police station, butcher's shop and hardware store. A friend of mine invented a game called 'Beautiful Lady Pictures' where she would copy a Page Three pose, naked apart from pants, while her cousin pretended to photograph her (they were both seven at the time).
Of course, her mother found out, and asked her why she was playing this game: "Because I want to be pretty like the ladies that daddy likes in the paper" was her response, which is so messed up and Freudian that I need two shots of tequila before I can think about it. But, looking back, it was unsurprising that so many of us wanted to be Page Three girls, as the cultural references of the eighties taught us that viable career options for a woman were: cleaner (Shake n Vac adverts, Crossroads), barmaid (Coronation Street), glamorous assistant (The Price is Right), being chased whilst wearing a bikini (Benny Hill) and Page 3 girl (The Sun). You could also be prime minister but this was not to be advised, as gangs of men would make papier-mâché effigies of you and set fire to them outside various coking plants.
We like to think that we've moved on; that young women today are aware of the multitude of career possibilities available to them. Yet the representation of women in The Sun has remained the same. Of course, the models are different (as the majority are dropped after they hit the ripe old age of 26), but the message hasn't changed: as a woman, you're only worth the sum of your parts.
So here's what No More Page 3 proposes for The Sun (please take note Dominic Mohan):
1) Drop the boobs from the newspaper
2) Use the spare page to showcase women's talents in other areas, by profiling female scientists, chefs, footballers, architects, artists, teachers, doctors, politicians, engineers. To name a few.
3) If the readers miss their daily dose of teenage breasts, make a separate Page 3 publication that's full of them! Cram every inch of paper with massive tits, then sell it as a top shelf magazine. There! Everybody's happy, no?
So, to summarise: glamour models are the tits.* But, please, keep them on the top shelf.
* Tits (noun. Slang (regional / northern)). Great, very good, excellent. E.G. 'That sandwich was the tits.' See also: top banana, cat's pyjamas, mutt's nuts.