I love boobs. Boobs are great, aren't they? Nothing inspires a greater sense of envy in me than a great pair of boobs on a fellow woman. Mine aren't anything to shout about, so I don't. But there's one thing I will say about boobs. Boobs aren't news. We've had them for thousands of years, and I'll tell you what, they look much the same now as they did when they were first invented. Primarily they serve a biological purpose, but also come in handy as keen bargaining tools for those of us lucky enough to have them. They too come with perils: underwire in the armpit, backache, inhibiting your ability to run for a bus. But still, definitely, definitely not news. I don't need to be reminded of the existence of boobs in a daily paper, I can just look down and think 'Oh look, boobs. Oh yeah'.
Boobs are everywhere, clothed and covered and controlled by their owners. Encouraging people to boycott The Sun with their own wallets seems a little futile when discarded newspapers can be found on park benches and public transport. Although this is not such a risk on a university campus, where most people will certainly be over 18, in the outside world, a 10 year old boy picking up a discarded copy of The Sun on the bus home from school has definite implications.
At least it's getting people talking. Exeter Guild recently sent an email to all students about an upcoming vote to ban the sale of The Sun in university-run shops, a motion that I understand has already been passed by Cardiff University Student Union. Arguably, it is easily obtainable from supermarkets and newsagents elsewhere off campus, but proposing a vote on banning it is a great representation of democracy at work on campus, allowing students control over their own environment. Much like the recent backlash against 'Lad Culture' on campus (something I personally haven't had much experience of) banning The Sun in campus shops will not end the perceived sexualisation of women at UK universities. It will, however, restrict people who wish to buy pornographic material to the top shelf where they'll be expected to pay upwards of £5 for it.
My issue with Page 3 is not that it features topless women. Personally, I think that if a woman wants to earn her living through glamour modelling then that is absolutely her prerogative. It wouldn't be my personal choice, but I'd make a crap cage fighter too, so really I'm better off playing to my strengths. My discomfort stems from setting an impossible target of perfection for young women that is already so readily available in women's magazines. I wonder if a young girl recognises that men are buying this material every single day and enjoying it (which obviously they do, why wouldn't they) she has to strive to be exactly like that in order to be attractive. Before you interpret this as some kind of rant that all sizes should be featured on Page 3 - don't. If The Sun start featuring a weekly 'plus-size' girl I might actually blow a fuse. Similarly, young boys who might come across such material sold on news-stands alongside broadsheet newspapers, will be exposed to tort, tanned skin, long flowing blonde hair and giant spherical tits. I don't look like that naked. Most women don't look like that naked. So why then are we filling their heads with such impossible expectations we could never hope to live up to?
Incidentally, I voted 'Yes' to ban the sale of The Sun. Not because I agree with any form of perceived censorship, especially in a university situation. But because I really don't think that Page 3 has a place in 21st Century newspapers. Whether the motion will be successful, I'm not sure, but I'm pretty impressed that the university is willing to take such drastic action at the request of their students.