It’s that time of year. You know, the time of year when you spend money you don’t have on things people don’t need because you’re supposed to.
I’m normally quite calm and polite really but quite often I get my rage on at Christmas. This year it started, as it normally does, in a long queue waiting to pay for something. This queue came in at the 12-14 minute mark, and the man in front of me was buying a pillow that had speakers in it. I feel I have to repeat that, a pillow with speakers in it.
So yes there’s the usual festive rage and that seems to be fueling No More Page 3 related rage. I am currently working on a campaign appealing to the editor of The Sun to stop showing the bare breasts of young women in his family newspaper – a pursuit rife with opportunities for manifesting rage.
I’m using the word ‘rage’ here and what I’m referring to is that feeling which overcomes you, the one that makes you want to sink to your knees and wail in a voice close to tears ‘how have we let this happen and how can we stop it??’
I’m going to share with you other people’s words now, forgive me, but I want to take you inside the words and arguments that I’ve been surrounded by this week and see if you end up joining me on the floor shouting ‘bloody hell, what can we do to change this?!’ …
This was an entry two days ago to The Everyday Sexism Project – it is far from unusual
I’m 16 and have been receiving sexist comments from older boys since I was about 13, in school and out of it. They shout “rape!” if they’re in a group walking down the corridor and see a girl, loudly rate girls out of 10 while we walk past, look at Page 3 and compare girls to it if we walk past, discuss girls’ bodies, it happens literally every day and even worse is girls go along with it and sometimes JOIN IN to impress them. Boys in my year and younger boys make lots of comments obviously spurred on by the older boys. I never wear skirts to school anymore as it’d sometimes get lifted in the lunch queue ..how anyone can say it’s harmless I don’t get! Why can’t the editor of The Sun or a lads mag spend one day in a school and see what girls have to put up with in the culture they help create I challenge them to do it and still think Page 3 or their mag is harmless.
This was a comment left on the No More Page 3 petition last week.
‘I’m ashamed to say I was once a glamour model at the tender age of 18 my friend got me signed up to an agency and after about 6 months I was featured in nuts and the daily sport. I was unhappy with what I was doing but was considered ‘cool’ by many and ‘fit’ by men. My agency practically bullied me into things I didnt Want to do and the final
straw came when I went for a test shoot with the daily star. I was with a few other girls and when we walked in we was told to line up without indroduction and take our tops off, we were then told a simple yes or no one girl was so baddly insulted about her breasts that she ran out crying. we were disrespected , talked to like dirt and seen as a piece of meat! I’m all for the nomorepage3 campaign society needs a shake up!’
A chartered educational psychologist who had signed the petition, contacted me unsolicited and said:
‘I am often asked to comment on aspects of parenting and one of the most important points I try to communicate is that parents not only provide and shape their children’s context for development and learning but they are also primary role models of human behaviour and that their every action is a kind of communication about life, the best way to live and the values underpinning this.
I don’t think it is possible to have a publication like The Sun with its Pg 3 in a child’s home and maintain the position that people should be treated with respect, that we are not objects and that men and women should relate to each other as whole, unique people.’
A barrister who practices family law sent me this, unsolicited:
‘I cannot think of one case where, if parent were to expose their children to ‘soft’ pornographic images of women’s breasts, every single day, even if it is just one image, day after day, the court would not be critically concerned and social services would not seek to remove a child into care.
And in particular, if that parent failed to recognise the potential harmful consequences for a child, maybe even describing it as ‘harmless fun’, I also expect that child may remain in long term foster care or possibly even an adoptive placement.
BUT, if we call it Page 3 and show it to our nation’s children, day after day, on news stands, in cafes, in doctor’s waiting rooms, dentists and supermarkets, we say it is ok… well it is not. It is time to say No to Page 3 once and for all.’
Wowzers, with such articulate and professional testaments against Page 3, The Sun must surely have a powerful defence for it.
At the Leveson Inquiry, Dominic Mohan told us why his paper shows the bare breasts of young women. And he said….
‘I think it’s meant to represent youth and freshness.’
I feel a need to repeat that…
‘I think it’s meant to represent youth and freshness’ (I go on and on about this here)
The argument I hear repeatedly in support of Page 3 is ‘if you don’t like it, don’t buy it.’
But the 15 year-old-girl harassed with it at school above DOESN’T BUY IT. The 12 women who wrote to Clare Short in the 80s and told her that Page 3 was mentioned to them while they were being raped DIDN’T BUY IT! The women who have told us that their abusers made them look at Page 3 DIDN’T BUY IT! When I was 11 and my breasts were developing and my brother and his friends were talking about Page 3 and I felt shame, I DIDN’T BUY IT! I could go on and on and on here. You don’t have to buy this paper to be affected by it.
Actually ‘if you don’t like it, don’t buy it’ is one of the more polite arguments for Page 3.
You’re all a bunch of fucking fat feminist bitches whining because nobody wants to see you naked.
If some dumb slut wants to make money by degrading herself, who cares? It’s not The Sun’s fault that so many low self-esteem women have to get topless to deal with the fact their uncle touched them up as a child…
What is the Sun saying in response to all this debate about Page 3? Well, they haven’t directly….
But they did feature an article in defence of Page 3, which stated that the ‘nation’s intellectual elite’ are pro Page 3!
That’s interesting, isn’t it?
If Oxford University students like Page 3 it must be alright, mustn’t it?
Er, well, that’s not what the disgusted Oxford student who contacted us (unsolicited) about this said
“A reporter from The Sun loitered outside our College door for a day, asking each student who passed to give him a quotation about Page 3. It seems he didn’t get what he was looking for, because he had to ask one student for his mobile number. He then texted that student, instructing him to ask his friends to read out suggested quotations about Page 3. The student replied saying that no-one in College would take part, this is a College where page 3 is torn from The Sun by repulsed students. This was no barrier to The Sun’s reporter though, who published an article online anyway. Most readers would imply that Oxford students were campaigning for page 3, the opposite of the truth.”
I could go on…but I think you’re probably on your knees already. Shall we have a good old wail of ‘how have we let all this happen?’
People will look at us and think ‘those people on the floor have lost it’ but I don’t think we should give a speaker stuffed pillow because when I read all this I’m pretty sure the society we live in has lost it too.