The Blog

Good on The Sun: Page Three Is Harmless Fun

As a woman, a journalist and a mum, I don't 'get' what the fuss is all about over page three. Comments about tomorrow's chip paper, poor little crack whores and sexual discrimination do not faze me. They do not convince most discerning consumers.

My dad was a tabloid journalist. A sub editor for the Daily Star, where he re-wrote big news stories and came up with witty puns and headlines for articles.

This included supplying copy for page three. He also subbed for years at the Daily Mail and was part of the News on Sunday team (a short-lived red top that flopped).

You might imagine therefore that my father was a seedy chain-smoking pervert, who hung out in betting shops and strip clubs.

I don't know if 'normal people' (non-journalists) genuinely believe that newspaper offices are full of chauvinistic cretins, who both loathe and love women and value them most for the way their nipples look. Do people seriously think that?

There are definitely some dubious characters as far as morals and ethics go. There is certainly humour, jest and jocularity. The banter, flirting and hilarity make the stress and pressure easier. Like in many professions.

He was a lovely, respectable, compassionate talented funny man. An award-winning journalist, who had picked up the annual national Press Association prize, as a young reporter, for 'Campaigning Journalist of the Year'.

I proudly used to boast to my friends in childhood that "my dad works at the Daily Star". It became an ongoing joke and a line of ridicule among my school pals. And even as I type 'pals' - like whenever I write 'top' (meaning 'best') - I feel that I have for that tabloid style running through my veins. Literally. And I have. Nobody says pals or top in everyday life in those ways. Not really. But it's my journalese and as old fashioned as it may be, I will still write that.

As a woman, a journalist and a mum, I don't 'get' what the fuss is all about over page three. Comments about tomorrow's chip paper, poor little crack whores and sexual discrimination do not faze me. They do not convince most discerning consumers. And they are as clichéd and overused and out of date as the idea portrayed about page three: that it's somehow unnecessary and has had its day.

Well, of course it's not essential. It's not big and it's not clever. It doesn't pretend to be. It's consenting women topless with a bit of blurb. So what?

My degree is in social sciences. I could easily come up with the same feminist arguments, as the other boring campaigners who are bashing tabloid tradition, making wild assumptions that don't hold up.

If the posh yummy mummies want to rattle on about their impressionable tiny Tallulahs being brainwashed with the notion that all that matters is a female's appearance or sexuality, then they can. We live in an age and culture of free speech in Britain. But it's complete hogwash.

If you don't want Tallulah to see sexy Suzy from Skegness, with her bucket and spade, licking a '99' then simply don't show Tallulah.

Sure, one day, Tallulah will get to see it herself and by that time she can use her own brain and formulate her opinions about gender, stereotypes and media representation.

I am pretty certain that my three-year-old daughter has not seen a page three girl but that is not deliberate and was not orchestrated. I don't buy tabloids and, funnily enough, they are not part of the reading material at her preschool.

But if she did see a topless woman in a newspaper, I would not feel shame or worry for The Bigger Picture. I would not panic that forever more she will know that all men are letches who only want women for their bodies!

For then, I would be as 'guilty' of making gender assumptions and stereotyping as the angry campaigners suggest The Sun is!

She knows that boobies feed babies. As she grows, she will appropriately naturally come to know that they are sometimes sexualised in society. And that a handful of women like to expose their nipples in newspapers but that a career as a nurse, teacher or hack is more sensible and practical!

Page three really is harmless. These are not heroin addict mothers of five, struggling to feed their babies. She is not being exploited or being kept in a life of drugs and sex 'crime' by The Man.

Page three girls are not unintelligent vulnerable depressives with no self-esteem, trying to get through the day. This is just something people say.

They are mostly young women who are 'modelling'. They do it for fun. They do it for admiration. They don't do it to make a political statement but they don't mind the attention or debate that follows.

And good on The Sun, I say. It's funny that the other papers made such a big thing out of sheer speculation that it had ditched page three, and stirred up the anti-bare boobs brigade. It's The Sun! It doesn't need publicity and it was having a laugh with the nation.

Nobody is going to die because of page three. So I suggest the campaigners go and find a real cause because, as everyone knows, there's some way bigger stuff going on in the world right now. And time and energy and passion could be much better spent on curing cancer, or solving the terrorism conundrum, or battling to help save the planet from slowly killing itself.

I got 99 problems but naked nipples in a newspaper I can choose to buy (or not) ain't one.