THE BLOG

Page 3 Isn't Just Harmless Fun and Today The Sun Proved It

22/01/2015 15:38 GMT | Updated 24/03/2015 09:59 GMT

For all those who don't consider Page 3 representative of a wider injustice towards women, look to Page 3 today.

Page 3 girls don't just speak for themselves. They never did. They've got men speaking on their behalf and this time their words are designed to shut up certain women for good.

Whether anyone would like to admit it or not, Germaine Greer was right. Her words - spoken on Channel 4 News on the day when the sight of bikini-clad celebrities on the Sun's Page 3 was interpreted as a sign of its overnight demise - seemed prophetic even at the time. "You can't assume that the women agitating against Page 3 have won if the Sun doesn't tell you that" she told Jon Snow. "The Sun hasn't capitulated."

They certainly haven't capitulated today. Under the headline 'Clarifications And Corrections' the editorial reads loud and clear and topless: 'Further to recent reports in all other media outlets, we would like to clarify that this is Page 3 and this is a picture of Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth.'

It continues wryly: 'We would like to apologise on behalf of the print and broadcast journalists who have spent the last two days talking and writing about us.'

It's smug, it's nasty, it's a publicity triumph. It also reaffirms what campaigners have always said about Page 3: That The Sun's loyalty to Page 3 is a commitment to disempowering women under the guise of that age-old defence of sexism: "it's just harmless fun".

It's just harmless fun. No mention of the women campaigners, strangely. No editorial nod to the No More Page 3 activists, or to Lucy-Anne Holmes, its founder. But then again, why would they? If Page 3 is anything to go by, women are to be seen and not heard, preferably with their nipples out for the lads. These activist women wear t-shirts and express opinions. The Sun decided to treat them differently - no apologies for them - they're not worth a mention alongside their industry competitors. It's not about them (it clearly is, but whatever). Instead they ridicule these women for commercial gain. Again I ask the question, and flip it: why wouldn't they? They do it every day. Empowered passion is combated with cynical malice. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth alongside smutty ink stained finger tips.

Which brings me to the head of PR at the Sun, Dylan Sharpe, who tweeted: "I said that it was speculation and not to trust reports by people unconnected to the Sun. A lot of people are about to look very silly... "

A lot of people or specifically women with an opinion? He went on to ridicule Labour's Deputy Leader, a vocal opponent of Page 3, tweeting her an image of today's topless Nicole: "This one's for you @HarrietHarman". He also repeated the tactic, tweeting senior Sky presenter Kay Burley, Guardian writers Roy Greenslade and Steve Hewlett, and BBC correspondent Lucy Manning. Former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan weighed in for good measure last night, crowing on Twitter: "Can you imagine a world where Harriet Harperson dictated how we all live? I'd literally rather immolate myself."

I can't help but go back to Germaine Greer's comments this week when she identified the real crux of the issues women face in our newspapers. And it's not just a simple case of a topless woman, because it never is. I believe she symbolises a wider injustice in the media towards all women. In the words of Germaine, for too long we've been "getting used to hearing all our female leaders...being ridiculed with impunity." It happens every week. It's happening right now.

Today The Sun calculated a move designed to belittle women on a page they claim empowers them. The developing story isn't over. It's only just getting started...