I like Russell Brand.
I remember the first time I saw him on the telly presenting a program about Big Brother. 'Wow, he's great,' I said to the guy I was seeing at the time. I don't know what it was, eloquence, life spirit, charisma, mischief, but he seemed refreshing. I suppose I followed his career from a distance, watching the odd bit of stand up and laughing.
Time went on, I read his articles and agreed with a lot of things he had to say about the state of the world. He talked about meditation publicly at a time when I was curious about it. I did a TM meditation workshop after reading about his work on it with David Lynch. I love mediation, it's changed me from someone who can get paralysed with panic and fear, to someone who does stuff and trusts that it will all be alright. Russell Brand talked about consciousness and it inspired me that someone with a lot of public clout would venture into that territory. He seemed like someone who was in love with living and I was definitely down with that.
But, and there was a but, in the midst of all this talk of consciousness and revolution was something else and it was a strong diatribe about sex and women. Women, when you listened to him, were there to have sex with men, in particular him.
'Come on, Russell,' I'd think. 'You're such an intelligent man, a brilliant man, surely you can see that if we're talking about shifts in humanity to create a fairer, more peaceful, sustainable, unified whole, we have to recognise that we're totally out of balance in terms of the power between the men and women, and do something about it.'
All my life I'd watched the news, and seen men with guns fighting and men in suits talking and as a rule it was the women I saw who compromised their own needs and personal journeys for men, rather than the other way round. I agreed with so much he said, but for me, feminism had to be acknowledged in it.
Recently the No More Page 3 team noticed that @rustyrockets had been responding to our supporters, saying he was behind us and expressing how he wanted a T-shirt. Did this surprise me? No. If anything I'm surprised it took him as long as it did! You don't have to look at the state of the world for long to notice a clear imbalance and to realise that feminism is a human rights struggle that we're not done with yet.
I'm not saying here I agree with all Russell Brand does or says, he's definitely done things that I wouldn't be able to align myself with at all, prank calling a rape helpline being one.
Would I like Russell Brand to articulate the problems with Page 3? Undoubtedly. He's quite brilliantly placed to communicate the dangers of a media, which offers one gender up as bodies to be consumed and judged by the other, in a witty and accessible way that could reach millions.
Some people have said he can't change and have not welcomed him speaking out, I can understand this, but I can't join them. Surely what we're doing here is raising awareness in the hope that people will change. One of the most important moments for me over the last year and half has been seeing my father who, at the beginning of the campaign, told me 'you should get some big breasted women in the photos or people will think you're jealous' and other clangers, to someone who debates with friends about the media's representation of women. We're trying to get The Sun to change. We're trying to change a culture which says 'shut up girls and get your tits out' to one which values and respects women.
Championing change and evolution is, and has to be, at the heart of campaigning.