When there is no Page 3, what next?
I attended a symposium this week on behalf of No More Page Three, run by a fellow feminist, to talk mostly about the campaign. You can find out about it here. It was a great event and the exhibition is still open I believe.
As usual I did my short speech and opened up the floor for questions. This is my favourite part, audiences can vary hugely and you can get some interesting and unexpected questions, as well as the usual suspects. They were a beautiful audience and we had a good discussion, which is always amazing. It was only a small crowd but on this occasion at least three people asked what I like to call the slippery slope question. It sounds something like this: "Well, if we say no to Page 3, what next?"
At this point I have to resist the urge to shout "I literally don't know, how will the world keep turning if men can't get their boners over the morning paper?"
I don't shout this of course, as I assume said person knows about the internet and is not worrying about where their next supply of soft porn is going to come from but rather asking one of two things; "what else am I going to be told is inappropriate for me?" or "what will we lose next?" it's an interesting question, and having answered it many times I thought I'd take the opportunity to write it down, so here goes.
As the largest image of a woman in the UK's biggest selling newspaper, the self-confessed 'pillar' of The Sun, to remove Page 3 will be to denounce the most overt symbol of casual sexism and objectification in popular culture. So, what next?
Perhaps when the largest image of a woman in The Sun is no longer the one where she's showing her breasts for men we will see different women, doing different things. Maybe if we took this first symbolic step towards addressing the unequal representation of men and women in the media, the changing landscape will no longer be hospitable to stories such as 'sex slave gets new haircut' in reference to a rape victim.
Perhaps the sidebar of shame might sidle off into the distance, never to be seen again?
Could it signal end of the nip slip as a news article?
What if we accepted the medias responsibility in reinforcing rape culture; paid heed to the increasing evidence of the links between exposure to sexualised or objectifying content and acceptance of rape myths and violence against women and girls?
Maybe we would know Stella Creasy Labour MP for her great work in tackling violence against women, and not because of her status as a 'Millibabe'.
Maybe the mere thought of illustrating a story of violent assault with a
bikini pic to encourage your reader to get their rocks off would seem distasteful.
A front page like the one of Reeva Steenkamp following her death at the hands of her lover, in a country where 2 woman a week are killed by their partner or husband, would not be quite so acceptable without the fertile ground of Page 3 in which to flourish.
Maybe if the Sun listened to the half a million girl guides, half a million Teachers and Head teachers and accepted that media sexism is seriously hampering the aspirations of young women in the UK, we would be able to find more than 195 articles on the Sun's website about 'sexism', compared with the 6,742 references to 'boobs'.
Perhaps basing a whole article on Theresa May's sparkly shoes rather than her policies would be considered infantile and disrespectful, and maybe when our Prime Minister uses the word 'girl' as an insult it will be noted.
So, what next indeed? What remarkable things are we capable of when we stand up and object to prejudice? It's a question I ask myself all the time, but instead of thinking about what we might lose, I like to think about what we are going to gain.