Page 3 – Is there life on Mars?
I am posting this on behalf of an ally who has asked to remain anonymous.
I have read a lot about the “No More Page 3″ campaign recently, mostly from those in favour of the abolition of Page 3. This is probably because the only argument in favour of keeping Page 3 will come from men who like looking at bare breasts for their sexual gratification which isn’t really the stuff that detailed and informative blogs are made of. Is there any other reason to keep it? I can’t think of one, so I thought I would throw my hat into the ring and document my thoughts on why I think Page 3 needs to disappear.
I should mention the following for context if nothing else:
1. I am male, and not one of those “jealous women who can’t deal with Page 3 girls being more attractive than they are” (a vacuous argument which has no place here or anywhere else)
2. I am not adverse to female nudity (far from it!) nor am I anti porn (though I do have views on porn, but here is not the place for them)
3. Despite being a man, I consider myself a feminist, in that I believe that men and women should be afforded equal rights and opportunities (and that includes the right of Page 3 girls to do what they do)
4. I have asked the lovely @seja75 to publish this for me so there is some chance of it actually being read.
So, the issue is of course the publication of pictures of topless women on Page 3 of what I understand is Britain’s most popular newspaper. Why do this? Topless women are not modelling clothes, jewellery, or makeup, but are instead displaying themselves. The only logical argument for this is to titillate The Sun’s male audience (please pardon the pun) in the same way that the sea of porn online is there to titillate those who wish to view it.
I have no problem with the publication of female nudity as a concept, nor any problem with women who want to model topless. However, I do believe everything has its place, and a so called “family newspaper” is, in my opinion, not the appropriate place for pictures of semi-naked women.
My personal opinion is that The Sun has no class, and it’s penchant for the words “paedo” or “sicko” in it’s recent pieces about Jimmy Saville is just one reason why I have this view and I believe the paper has a lot to do before I will think it fit to be labelled a “family newspaper”. You could argue that I am biased, but my dislike of the Sun’s inflammatory language is not the reason I support the “No More Page 3″ campaign. I support it because I simply cannot think of any good reason why Page 3 should remain. Can you? What about the view of the man at the helm?
Whilst at Leveson, The Sun’s Editor Dominic Mohan reportedly said that Page 3 is an “innocuous British institution” and his argument in favour of Page 3 seemed to be based on the fact that it has been around since 1970. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the 70′s. It is the decade in which I was born. In my opinion it produced some of the finest music ever recorded, including the brilliant song “Life on Mars” by the legendary David Bowie. The chorus has the line “Oh man, look at those cavemen go – it’s the freakiest show” which resonates quite strongly with me when I think of Page 3 and Mr Mohan’s argument to keep it. Hopefully you will be able to hear that chorus in your head as you read on.
That song was released in 1971, the year after The Sun introduced Page 3, so Mr Mohan is quite right – Page 3 has been around a long time. However, let’s have a look at some other things that were happening in the 1970′s. Musically, it was an amazing decade, but in other areas it was seriously lacking. At about the same time Page 3 was introduced, women were staging a protest at the 1970 Miss World Contest at the Royal Albert Hall. In the 70′s, women were not afforded the equalities that they rightly enjoy today. Their banners read “we’re not beautiful, we’re not ugly, we’re angry!” because when Page 3 was introduced things like equal pay for women, equal education and jobs, and the right to an abortion barely existed. If the information online is correct, The Sun’s major concern at the time was that it was going to be “a long hard winter” because the “lovely miss world girls have abandoned the mini skirt for the midi!”
Yes, in the sexist 70′s the demise of the mini skirt was apparently a bigger deal than the rights of women and their protests. That was the environment which spawned Page 3. Men would have to look at longer hemlines and have less leg to gawp at! However did they cope? We can excuse it though, this was the 70′s after all. Can you hear that Chorus? It hits the nail right on the head doesn’t it? Look at those cavemen go, it’s the freakiest show!
I am sure these days The Sun would take such protests more seriously. Although it has not done so in the past. Page 3 came under attack in 1986 by Clare Short. The Sun’s response was an aggressive one, publishing a picture of Clare Short’s head on a topless woman’s shoulders with the headline “Fat, Jealous Clare brands Page 3 porn!” Even Mr Mohan can’t argue that that was a disgusting nasty disgrace unworthy of the word “journalism” – Look at those cavemen go, it’s the freakiest show!
It was pleasing to hear Mr Mohan tell Leveson that he would not have run that Clare Short piece now. It was pleasing to hear that the Gordon Brown cystic fibrosis story would have been treated differently. It was pleasing to hear Mr Mohan tell Leveson that he wanted The Sun to be “a powerful force for good.” Does Page 3 fit into this vision? I don’t think that it does.
You don’t have to get the history books out to look at how bad the culture of the 70′s was. I have mentioned that David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” is a fine song, and you only need to look at the BBC TV show of the same name for a snapshot of the era that is responsible for Page 3. The show’s writers Chris Chibnall, Julie Rutherford, Guy Jenkin and Mark Grieg deserve to drink free for the rest of their days for bringing us a brilliant piece of TV. The beauty of the popular cop drama set in 1973 (apart from superb acting from all concerned) was how it portrayed sexism, racism, misogyny and the mocking of the disabled as part of its weekly menu to show the viewer just how much society has moved on since 1973, (a time when Page 3 had been around for 3 years). The principal character Gene Hunt was brilliantly portrayed by Philip Glenister whose delivery of one liners was a joy to behold – Here is one of my favourites:
“the paki in a coma is about as lively as liberace’s dick when he’s looking at a naked woman – all in all this investigation is going at the speed of a spastic in a magnet factory!”
I couldn’t help but like Gene Hunt, a great fictional character. But in real life I would struggle with him – he was a complete caveman, as the above quotation demonstrates. The Police cannot behave like that today, and I doubt The Sun would print anything that would accord with a Gene Hunt view of the world. Of course not – that was the 70′s and we’ve moved on since then! Yes, we have moved on in some very big ways, (apart of course for Page 3) so let’s have a look at some of them.
In the same year that Page 3 was born, the Equal Pay Act 1970 came about – legislation that recognised that the sexes should not be treated differently when it came to pay and conditions of employment. The Act didn’t come into force until 1975, 5 years after the birth of Page 3, which in itself demonstrates the way that women were treated differently in the era that spawned Page 3. Even today, the Fawcett Society is reporting a 14.9% pay gap between genders, so imagine how badly women were treated in the 70′s… Look at those cavemen go, it’s the freakiest show!
When Page 3 was introduced in 1970 the term “Sexual Harassment” did not exist. The Discrimination Act was not established until 1975, and it was not until 1986 that it was modified to include references to “Sexual Harassment”. I’m sure that Mr Mohan and The Sun would agree that Society is better off with that legislation than without it. I again think of Gene Hunt and a scene where a female witness comes forward to make a statement. Gene is excited, not because he is going to get a lead that might help him solve his case, but because his witness is “tits in a jumper!” – that was the 70′s! Look at those Cavemen go, it’s the freakiest show!
It was only 2 years before Page 3 that the 1967 Abortion Act came into force in 1968, a symbolic advancement for women’s rights. There were still significant limitations on abortion in the era that spawned Page 3 and it was not really until the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act made the legislative changes that allow pregnant women (subject to various legal safeguards) to have the freedom to determine the destiny of their own bodies that is, in the main, available today. (Northern Ireland, everyone is looking at you right now – wake up!)
When one looks at just the legislation that been introduced since the birth of Page 3, one can see how restricted and patriarchal society was when Page 3 was spawned. For Goodness sake, just 3 years before Page 3 there was no drink driving limit, and when Page 3 was introduced, breath testing didn’t even exist! Can you hear that Chorus, that was the 70′s – look at those cavemen go, it’s the freakiest show!
So, you see, Page 3 may have been at home in the 70′s, but society has moved on. The Gene Hunt’s of this world have no place anymore, other than to remind us just how lucky we are to live in the society of today. Page 3, in the context of the 70′s, fitted like a glove. I do not believe the same can be said in 2012 and if Mr Mohan really does want make The Sun a “powerful force for good” and be at the helm of a relevant, modern, forward-looking newspaper, he should, in my opinion, ditch it. This is what the German equivalent of the Sun, “Bild” has done, presumably recognising that it has to move with the times, and behave in a way that reflects decent values held by modern society. Why did “Bild” do this? Reportedly to capture a female readership. Why should Page 3 be despatched?
The lovely, forward thinking, Lucy Ann Holmes has given plenty of reasons why Page 3 should be canned, but since you’re reading, I will repeat them:
1. Page 3 gives the impression that The Sun is a paper for Men. Look at those cavemen go!
2. Page 3 is misogynistic. It suggests that a woman’s primary place is to be looked at by men, for their gratification. This limits women. It’s the freakiest show!
3. Page 3 encourages Men to view women as sexual objects. Perpetuating this culture will contribute to instances of sexual assault. Look at those cavemen go!
4. Page 3 is confusing to young girls who may get the impression that exposing themselves is ok, “because that’s what the ladies in Daddies newspaper do!” It’s the freakiest show!
5. Page 3 does not celebrate Beauty. It creates a false ideal of how women should look, with young perky breasts implying that all others are ugly – and challengers having previously been branded by the sun as “fat and jealous” rather bears this out (pun intended) Look at the cavemen go!
6. Page 3 suggests that women should value themselves based on their appearance and their sexual attractiveness to a man. It’s the freakiest show!
In short, Page 3 should follow all of the other bad cultures that were prevalent in the 70′s, and it should be put to bed. If you’re reading this Mr Mohan, don’t be one of the Cavemen! Make The Sun a powerful force for good, make The Sun an example of a Modern forward thinking newspaper that cares about its readership and wants to move with the times. Follow the example of the Germans, and move your paper forward with the changing times. Don’t argue in favour of the 70′s. That is not the behaviour of a progressive, forward looking Editor. Do the right thing. Send Page 3 to Mars.