The Blog

2am White Van Whistle

It was hard to beat Kay Burley's response ('I'm sure your mother is incredibly proud of you, Dylan. I know I would be') but this is a poem about the prank and how it felt symptomatic of a much wider issue.

On 20th January this year, The Sun newspaper printed an edition without a topless woman on its third page. The same day, its sister paper, The Times printed a suggestion that the tabloid had bowed to ever increasing pressure to do away with the feature and the 200,000 names on the No More Page 3 petition.

There was a whole day of No More Page 3 campaigners and high profile women being interviewed about their reaction to this. Without wanting to be melodramatic and to pretend this was some sort of huge leap forward, it was a step in the right direction. It was a day to celebrate, even in a small way.

Less than 24 hours later, The Sun's Head of PR, Dylan Sharpe let the world know that this had all just been a prank and that in fact, Page 3 was here to stay. He did this by tweeting a picture of a topless Page 3 model to women such as Harriet Harman and Kay Burley who had celebrated Page 3's passing the day before.

It was hard to beat Kay Burley's response ('I'm sure your mother is incredibly proud of you, Dylan. I know I would be') but this is a poem about the prank and how it felt symptomatic of a much wider issue.

There was a moment

last January

when it felt

as though


we'd made

a small shuffle


brought humanity

up to date

with the amount

of years

it's been alive.

Twitter rose to the occasion

became the predictable

hive of

horror and celebration

at one less



naked and voiceless


And the Sun

sat silent

quietly apologetic,

hands up

given in

had felt the pressure

of two hundred thousand voices,


packed up its


and photoshoots

and whispered,

'Fine, you win.'

And having done nothing

more than

retweeted a couple of things

and signed the petition,

I didn't gloat or brag

I knew this wasn't equality on a plate

the balance of power

hadn't suddenly shifted


but it was one day

when I felt grateful

to campaigners

who had faced

years of daily berating

rape threats

and anonymous trolling.

There was a whole

twelve hours

of commentary

which in the name

of presenting

a balanced media

interviewed Harriet Harman


folorn looking

Page 3 girls

now jobless

and seething.

And there were women

who quite rightly said

they would not let

Page 3

quietly slip away

and die a death unnoticed,

women who for 45 years

have had to listen to

the aggressive dissecting

of the best bits

of a naked girl

over their breakfast table

their lunch break

their classroom.

Women who felt

that for every boy

who thought

he could have a say

about the size

and shape

of a stranger's flesh

because every day

his dad does the same

about Nicola, 19

from Brighton.

Or every school girl

stood awkward in her uniform


in front of the blokes

buying take away tea

in the café

and gawping at under 18 tits

in a back to school special

For every one of those people,

David Dinsmore,

we could not let this go

without a fight.

About why it hadn't

happened sooner.

And maybe it was planned

and premeditated

or reactionary

an error of judgement,

an editorial mistake

but Tuesday morning came

and The Sun fought back

with their sexy winking Lazarus

dug up

from the grave of the 1970s

and Dylan Sharpe

leading their army

of leering


drooling men

holding up pictures

of smooth


female flesh

and stuffing it

in to the faces

of every woman

who had dared to say

the day before

'We will not say thank you,

don't expect us to be grateful.'

And suddenly,

like being the only one

at the table

not wearing a suit

or all the times

my Mum's

waited in the rain

outside the pub

for us to arrive

or the quiz team

at my local

who when my boyfriend's not there

spend all evening saying

that if there's a sports round

we shouldn't even bother playing.

It became all too clear

that this was just

yet another


Like the naked photo

text around the classroom

or the whistle from the van

at 2am

or the car of men

who followed me home

until I drove to the police station,

the man who grabbed my arse

at the lights

when I was out running

or the,

'Cheer up babe,

it might never happen.'

This exclusive

men and boys club

who elect their leaders

in the form of

harmless blokes

like James Corden

Russell Brand

and Jeremy Clarkson


'Alright love,

calm down,'

is ok

because he's

'working on his feminism.'

And this club is not one

you are invited to be a part of,

full of men

who are intelligent enough

to recognise

that Dapper Laughs

is more dangerous

than funny

but still find



in 'the name of equality,'

'Well, when's International Men's Day?'

Sir, I am happy to inform you

that your special day

is every day.

And this club

needs to hold its head in shame

for every girl

who's ever been put off

wanting to play football


because of the likes

of Andy Gray,

or the female football player

on the radio

who said

she didn't mind not being paid

as much as her male counterpart

because at least she didn't

have to deal with the undending

recognition and fame.

This club need to take responsibility

for the man on the table

next to me

branding it

'PC gone mad,

you can't even

hold a door open

for one of them these days

without being accused of rape.'

And for all of the men

to whom they give a bad name,

the men

who take their daughters

to the supermarket

the newsagent

the bus stop

the café

and the train

and then have to try

and explain

and make it make sense

before being told,

'Look, if you don't like it,

just look away,

if you've got a problem

then why don't you just

turn the page?'

Like all the times

me and my friends

tell ourselves

to just walk past it

pretend you didn't hear it

don't say anything

because it's embarrassing

so just let them win.

And all the grown women

who have said to me,

'I wish I still had your flare,

as you get older

you get ground down

and just kind of grow out of it.'

This club of men

who keep telling me

they can see no link

between these pictures

of silent,


lip biting women


so normal and every day

that they're published

in a national newspaper

and the lurid words

said to me

in passing

at the 3am on the street

before grabbing my hand

and laughing when I screamed

or the sixth form teacher

who asked me for naked photos

of myself

when I was 16.

They can see no link.

So when it turns out

that Page 3 is actually here to stay

and our one day

free of it

was just the tension

on the rubber band

at the back of the class

before catapulting

this joke

to the front.

Well, that's all it was,

a joke,

I mean,


why don't you try getting a sense of humour,