whoever you want to be…

Bare Boobs In The Paper

I’m not going to write about sex this week.

I’m not even going to write about wanking.

I’m going to write about boobs.


Recently I’ve become a bit obsessed by boobs.

I started off being obsessed by the Olympics.

But then my obsession switched suddenly to boobs.

You know how it is.

I blame Dominic Mohan. He’s the Editor of The Sun.

He trapped the boobs in my head.

The swine.

You see, I bought a copy of The Sun.

It’s not my usual paper so perhaps I should explain the circumstances.

It was a quick purchase on a train station platform.

I only had the right money for The Sun and my train was approaching.

I can’t buy The Sun, it’s got boobs in it, I thought. Oh, but I so want to read about Britain’s Olympic gold rush.

I was in a bit of a fix.

So, I picked up The Sun and opened it.

But there weren’t any boobs on page 3!

Wowzers, they’ve done away with the boobs while the Olympics is on, I inwardly whooped.

But I checked page 5 too just to be sure. I’m cunning like that.

The Sun was hastily paid for and I Usain Bolt-ed it out of the shop to catch my train.

So I’m on the train reading The Sun and I turn to page 13 and there she is. Emily, 23, from Warrington with her boobs out.

And…oh…you might think me stupid….after all they’ve been there for over 40 years…perhaps I’m supposed to be used to them by now…perhaps I should accept them…but I felt so… sad.

Blimey, those bare boobs made me feel sad to my core.


Why did Emily from Warrington’s very nice bare breasts upset me so much?

Hmmmm…lots of reasons.

And the more I thought about the issue, the more my reasons seemed to breed and the more the sadness seemed to settle.

  • Perhaps the sadness stemmed from my own experiences as an 11 year old. I went into the shower after ballet one evening and I was washing my newly emerging boobies when I noticed red marks on them. They looked as though they’d been clawed by a great big bird. I’ve scratched myself, I thought. Only the scratch marks didn’t go. Days later they were still there and I was in a silent panic. My brother used to get The Sun. The girls in there didn’t have these marks. I was supposed to have boobs like theirs. But I didn’t. I felt flawed and, oh, so ashamed. I didn’t tell anyone and it marked the beginning of a sad and complicated relationship with my breasts. (which I talk about here)
  • Perhaps it was the fact that Jessica Ennis was featured in the paper too, because she’d won a gold medal for her country, but her picture was much smaller than Emily’s. In fact, the largest image of a woman in that issue of The Sun was Emily with her clothes off. The brain processes visual information 60,000 faster than text, and in this case, the lesson that is quickly absorbed is that a woman’s primary place is to be there with her clothes off so that men can look at her.
  • I remembered a conversation I’d had, not long ago. with a friend. She told me she had taken her 6-year-old daughter to a café for a treat. The Sun newspaper was on a table and her little girl had seen the Page 3 girl and asked my friend why the lady wasn’t wearing her clothes. Suddenly the nice treat was hijacked as my friend found herself wondering what to say to her little girl.
  • Then I thought back to numerous conversations I’ve had with various breastfeeding friends about the weird stigma surrounding breastfeeding. How is it that we live in a society which makes women feel uncomfortable breast feeding in public but is happy to show the bare breasts of teenagers in it’s biggest selling newspaper?
  • I thought about the men who looked at these pictures. I remembered the phrases cor, look at the tits on that’ (THAT)  or ‘I’d give her one’ I’ve heard men say when they’ve been looking at these pictures.
  • Then my mind settled for a long time on the fact that Emily’s nakedness is there for no other reason than the sexual gratification of men. The Department of Health website taught me that approx 10,000 women a week are sexually assaulted (although the figures could well be much, much higher because so many incidences go unreported) Dominic Mohan described Page 3 at the Leveson Inquiry as ‘a bit of harmless fun’, but in a society when so many women a day are sexually assaulted, perpetuating the belief that women are there for men’s sexual pleasure doesn’t seem harmless to me. At all.                                                                                                                                                 
  • The Sun had put this quote next to Emily.

Emily hopes Brits will be inspired by the success of our Olympic superstars. She said “In the words of German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ‘The important thing in life is to have great aim and to possess the aptitude and the perseverance to attain it.’

I love a Goethe quote me. Did Emily really write this? I wondered. Er, no, was the answer that Google quickly gave me.

I’ve asked my source at News International [with regard to the ‘News in Briefs’ editorials on Page 3 in The Sun]… and my source says the deputy editor who’s in charge of Page 3 decides the topic and then one of the subs writes it. The girls have nothing whatsoever to do with it, because apart from the one with a degree, they’re as daft they look.” – Olly Mann. (I found this quote here)

Wowzers, disrespect for women was happening on so many levels it was hard for me to get my head around.

Anyway, I could go on and on. And probably on and on a bit more.

But this article is already longer than it should be.

And you’re probably getting the point by now.

I’m sad.

And the sadness isn’t going away.

I’m also curious.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

And if I’m not, can we change things?

Most of all I feel passion.

My goodness, I feel passion like a fierce flame in my chest, on this issue.

What do you think I should do with all this passion?

Because I’m thinking I should start a campaign.

A big, fun, heartfelt, tenacious, beautiful campaign to make The Sun take the bare boobs out.

I have heard people say ‘The Sun will never drop Page 3’ but currently I’m more inspired by Emily/one of the subs/Goethe’s words.

The important thing in life is to have great aim and to possess the aptitude and the perseverance to attain it.

About Lucy

Writer and campaigner. Currently it is all about sex.

16 comments on “Bare Boobs In The Paper

  1. Keris
    August 15, 2012

    Oh god, I love this post. I spend so much time fretting about gender imbalance and pinkification and @Everydaysexism, and hardly ever give Page 3 a thought. Maybe because it’s so well-established and we’re all just used to it. Or maybe it’s because I know that people (women as well as men) roll their eyes when women complain about Page 3 – complaining about it seems somehow retro. But, honestly, we really shouldn’t have to put up with this shit.

    So what I’m saying in a waffly way is that I’m totally on board with a campaign. Although I’ve no idea how to go about it.

    Are you familiar with Miss Representation? http://www.missrepresentation.org/about-us/ They seem to be doing v good work and may have some, um, tips.

  2. howtostartasexualrevolution
    August 15, 2012

    Keris..I LOVE YOU!!!! I have a few (many) ideas up my sleeve…and I’ll check out that link pronto….

  3. Sarah
    August 15, 2012

    I love this post and I completely agree with you. I am also saddened by page three but realised, after reading this, that I deal with it by pretending that The Sun (and the Daily Mail, but that’s another topic) don’t exist. Which is a bit crap, lazy and selfish now that I think about it. What can we do?

  4. howtostartasexualrevolution
    August 16, 2012

    Thank you, Sarah!

    Well, I think an online petition, a facebook group, T shirts, posters that you can print off and put up, the key I think is keeping the argument for No More Page 3 coming whilst still making it a fun campaign…so I’m also thinking theme song with pop video ….also a list of 10 things that people can do if they agree….

    I’m thinking the petition and facebook should start on Monday, the 20th, sounds like a powerful date.

    How does this sound?


    • Keris
      August 16, 2012

      This all sounds excellent. Let me know what I can do (although I won’t actually be around on the 20th – I’m in London) (are you in London, cos maybe we could meet up?)

  5. Sarah
    August 17, 2012

    Fabulous list! I’m going to try to think of some (funny) t-shirt/slogan ideas over the weekend and count me in for the Monday launch. x

  6. howtostartasexualrevolution
    August 17, 2012

    Ladies, your support and enthusiasm is giving me tingles…THANK YOU!!!

    Keris, yes, I am in London, Monday, and will be free from 4ish I think….maybe a late afternoon coffee/brainstorm?….other than that it will just be a case of sharing and sharing and sharing and then sharing some more the online petition and facebook group to get support and some wind behind it all….

    Sarah, ooo lovely, THANK YOU! would you be able to do some(as much as you can) of sharing the petition and facebook group on Monday, via Twitter, FAcebook, email, carrier pigeon..anything!??….i was thinking it would be good to set a challenge…see if we can get so many signatures in one week…an inspiring/empowering number….drawing a bit of a blank on that at present…but like the idea of having a challenge there…might get people going…!!

    Obviously we can ask other people to act as sharers to spread the word too!

    Let’s not forget!

    The important thing in life is to have great aim and to possess the aptitude and the perseverance to attain it.

    and as my friend says,

    Say no to the wrong things, the right things can happen.


    • Keris
      August 18, 2012

      8008? 😉

      Will email you re Monday.

  7. sketchesofthislife
    August 19, 2012

    How important are Emily’s boobs in the real world? Reckon studies would show that a Page 3 girl isn’t going to be a major cause in anyone to be sexually assaulted….. shouldn’t we be more concerned with ensuring our daughters grow up confident and healthy? A Page 3 girl isn’t going to change much but ensuring normal sized women are featured in fashion and so called health magazines would… at the end of the day the Page 3 girl is put there for the visually stimulated male….worry about the stick thin “models” who our daughters look at everyday as role models… and ultimately, the Page 3 girls are usually “full figured” and that isn’t such a bad thing….

    • howtostartasexualrevolution
      August 19, 2012

      Well I definitely agree with your point about the damage that stick thin models in the media do to young women’s self esteem and body image, and I would also site the running down of women that we see constantly in the press as really really harmful. In fact, if this campaign could get some serious wind behind it then i think we could use that power for further campaigns tackling those subjects too. I would love to see a mobilization of men and women saying ‘Enough is Enough’.

      However, I believe that showing a massive picture of a young woman’s bare breasts in a widely read national ‘family’ newspaper is very powerful. It’s can’t not be. She’s there exposing herself while the rest of the paper shows people dressed and going about their various businesses.

      And I do think this can have an impact on young women’s self esteem, I mention my own sad and complicated relationship with my own boobs that was definitely impacted by Page 3 above…but also if young woman’s father is reading that paper and looking at those boobs, what is this saying to his daughter, if he says, ‘cor, look at the tits on that’ which seems to be the current cultural response to these pictures, how does that young, developing woman feel?…it is unlikely that her own boobs look like that, so she probably feels inadequate. Now, that man probably doesn’t want his daughter to feel insecure about herself, he is just acting out of his own conditioning…and how then does the same dad feel, when his daughter goes out on a Friday night dressed in very little…’put some clothes on, you’re not going out like that,’ he says, but by reading that paper he’s been conditioning his child from an early age that, as a woman, she is a sex object…it’s definitely complicated…but as i said i think it’s really powerful, because it’s there in a daily paper.

      hmmmm…sorry, this is getting long…just one more thing..because you mentioned that there could be no connection between Page 3 and sex attacks…it reminded me of when Clare Short tried to get a law passed to ban these sorts of pictures, I think it was 12 letters she received from women who were raped by men who mentioned Page 3 in the attack, ‘you could be a Page 3 girl’ they said, and things like that.

      What I think is interesting is that as a society we have somehow accepted the fact that so many women are sexually assaulted on a daily basis. Young girls grow up knowing they shouldn’t walk home after a certain time, they might carry a rape alarm….oo just reminded me of a bit in an article I saw here


      in particular when the guy is at the workshop …..the leader “posed a question to all of the men in the room: “Men, what things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?”

      Not one man, including myself, could quickly answer the question. Finally, one man raised his hand and said, “Nothing.” Then Katz asked the women, “What things do you do to protect yourself from being raped or sexually assaulted?” Nearly all of the women in the room raised their hand. One by one, each woman testified:

      “I don’t make eye contact with men when I walk down the street,” said one.
      “I don’t put my drink down at parties,” said another.
      “I use the buddy system when I go to parties.”
      “I cross the street when I see a group of guys walking in my direction.”
      “I use my keys as a potential weapon.”
      “I carry mace or pepper spray.”
      “I watch what I wear.”

      I just think it’s sad that this is somehow accepted as part of life..

      Am i drifting off point?? sorry..i just believe that Page 3 powerfully says that women are sexually available for men, and really do believe that to be wrong.

      Anyway, thank you for your comment, it’s definitely a controversial issue!

  8. Pingback: No more Page 3 « Keris Stainton

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This entry was posted on August 15, 2012 by in Bea Feminist, Bea Inspired.
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