This month The Sun newspaper started a new campaign that attempted to set Page 3 up as a supporter of breast cancer charities. This involved a front page featuring a topless model, with a commentary of how to check breasts for potentially cancerous lumps and suggestions of what to name your breasts. If this sounds ridiculous, that's because it is. The Sun is making a last ditch attempt to gather support for page 3 by pitting it directly against breast cancer. The message couldn't be clearer, either you support page 3 or you support breast cancer.
Reactions to this appalling publicity stunt have ranged from laughter, to shock, to full-blown range, to pain. Some have written about their own experiences of breast cancer and the devastating effects it has had on their bodies, their minds and their families, and expressed their anger and sadness at The Sun's exploitation of their pain. Breast cancer is not about giggling and groping your cleavage whilst wearing lacy knickers, it is about mastectomy scars, chemotherapy and finding the strength and courage to keep fighting. The Independent said the campaign was 'sick, even by The Sun's standards', whilst the New Statesman emphasised that readers were being asked to pick a side: page 3 or breast cancer.
Then something wonderful happened. The No More Page 3 campaign, which had steadily been gaining support through signatures on an online petition for over a year, experienced a sudden surge in popularity and acquired over 13,000 signatures in less than 24 hours. Less than two weeks later, 35,000 more signatures have been added. Now, either it was an incredible coincidence that all of these people simultaneously realised that breasts were not news, or they were disgusted by The Sun's apparent attempt at philanthropy and decided that enough was enough. I hate to make assumptions, but I'm going to throw caution to the wind and suggest that it was the latter of these.
The Sun plans to run this campaign every Tuesday for another 6 months. If it gets that far, and if people continue to be disgusted at the same rate, the No More Page 3 campaign will gain over 2 million signatures. Of course I hope that The Sun does not go ahead with its plans, that it does not continue to shove pictures of pert young breasts in the faces of those of us whose lives have been irreversibly changed by breast cancer, that it accepts that it was a bad move and backs down. But it would also be brilliant to see Dinsmore, Murdoch, Cameron and Clegg attempt to defend the daily objectification of women against 2 million voices telling them otherwise.
No More Page 3 has been a strong and promising campaign since its inception in Summer 2012, but here is where it really gets interesting. If you haven't done so already, sign the petition and let Dinsmore know that he can't use breast cancer as an excuse to objectify women.
This post originally appeared on tokenfeminist.com .
Follow Rosie Tallant on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rosietallant