The Page 3 images of topless women have been a feature of the Sun newspaper for over 40 years, and it is seen by many as a "national institution". The No More Page 3 campaign, started by Lucy Holmes in 2012, has brought the issue to a new generation, and renewed support to the idea of a ban. I support the campaign for so many reasons, and frankly, I don't understand how anyone can still see Page 3 as acceptable in the year 2014.
In the Sun, the Page 3 photo is by far the biggest image that the newspaper will present of a woman. Men are shown as politicians, athletes, people who achieve things and are to be admired. Women, on the other hand, are represented as objects available purely to be looked at. Millions of people every day are sent the message that this is all women are good for. Children see men as having the ability to run a country, to get the important things done, and women as having the ability to be photographed topless. Anyone with a brain knows that this is absolutely ridiculous. Women do, and have done, amazing things. We are not secondary citizens. In fact, what stands in our way of achieving even more than we already do is the horrendous sexism perpetuated by "institutions" like Page 3.
Besides this, an issue I've always had with Page 3 is the "quote" in the corner of the image. It makes a joke out of the idea that women could have anything intelligent to say about the world we live in. Too many times, I've been told to "stand there and look pretty", or seen people shocked at the fact that I can have an intelligent conversation. Why should this be surprising? Women have so much more to offer than boobs, and we have so much more value than that placed on us by men. Page 3 contributes to a culture where men believe that women exist solely for their sexual gratification. I am fortunate enough to have grown up in an environment where I was told these things, but so many other young girls aren't as lucky. They will grow up believing that being attractive and pleasing a man are the most important things they can be, and the most they can hope to achieve in life.
It is impossible to argue with the fact that Page 3 is the objectification of women. This is where Page 3 directly contributes to violence against us. Objectifying a section of society is the first step towards dehumanising them, and this is where an environment is created where violence against them is seen as acceptable. This can be seen throughout history, for example with slavery; the objectification and commodification of black people directly led to violence against them. I'm not comparing the level of damage caused by slavery to that caused by Page 3, but it is an undeniable fact that objectification of people leads to their degradation. I'm also not suggesting that a man looks at Page 3 and feels the urge to be violent towards women, but it contributes to the oppressive culture surrounding women, a society where one in four have been sexually assaulted. It would be naïve to suggest that sexism starts and ends with Page 3, but it contributes massively to the sexism that surrounds women in the UK, and as such it has no place in our society.
I'm not anti-boobs. I quite like my boobs. If you want to sunbathe topless, go ahead. I think that women should be free to breastfeed in public. But there is a time and a place for boobs, and a national "family" newspaper is not it. Boobs are not news. Over half the population have them. They should not be the basis of the value women are given in the media, or in society as a whole. Women should be in newspapers for the amazing things they do every single day, for what we have achieved and continue to achieve, not for having a particularly nice rack. Furthermore, I'm not anti-porn. I respect the choice of women to commodify their bodies, but this should be in a private sphere. If you want to see porn, that's your business, but you should have to seek it out. It shouldn't be forced in the faces of thousands of people, both men and women, who don't want to see it, and on whom it can have a detrimental effect.
A common response given to Page 3 opposition, one given by David Cameron himself (despite his desire to put heavier regulations on online porn), is "If you don't like it, don't look at it", but it's really not that easy. I have never bought a copy of the Sun. Yet I have still seen Page 3 countless times and it has had a massive impact on my life. I don't have a choice not to see it when there is someone reading it on the bus, or it is being sold on my university campus, or left in the staff room to be read in my lunch break. It is such an unbelievably weak argument. Furthermore, why should I have to ignore sexism? Nothing ever gets changed by being ignored.
A fact often ignored is that Page 3 is massively detrimental to men. To young boys, it promotes the idea that this is how you should see women, that they should be treated as objects. To older men, it's frankly patronising. Do you really need Page 3 as an incentive to pick up a newspaper? Is this really how you want your partners, sisters, daughters, to be viewed by other men? Is this the only way you will see a pair of boobs?
I have no doubt that comments will be left on this blog calling me "hysterical", telling me to "calm down". Those who are anti-Page 3 are accused of being jealous killjoys. This dull, unintelligent criticism is nothing I haven't heard before. This is because Page 3 contributes to a culture where the idea of a woman having an opinion, particularly one that criticises the way we are treated, is terrifying, and something that needs to be discouraged. But I will not "calm down", and neither will the hundreds of thousands of other people who agree with me.