Don’t get me wrong. I love boobs. My own in particular have nourished my two children, provide a useful extra storage space for small toys, loose change and my car keys, and have probably saved me from drowning on a couple of occasions. Other people’s boobs, too, are fine in as far as they concern me at all. And if men find boobs sexy, well, great I suppose.
I’m not objecting to boobs, naked or otherwise.
All my knowledge of the life of a page 3 girl comes from a soft porn book called Shameless that Sausage and I found in a holiday cottage once. Its heroine was discovered at 16, left home, changed her name to ‘Honey’, and shacked up with the photographer who spotted her. Then she went on to shag descriptively a succession of rich but sleazy men before eventually fleecing one for millions of pounds, enrolling on a business degree course and settling down with her old Geography teacher with whom she’d been in love all along. Realistic? Doubt it. Many people argue that getting your tits out for a newspaper is empowering, and that page 3 girls choose to do it, make a good living and are not exploited. Not sure who first thought of the word ‘empowering’ to describe wapping your baps out for the breakfast-table crowd but I’ll bet he’s bubbling in a golden jacuzzi, one of his investments on each gouty paw as I write this. I sincerely doubt that no page 3 girl was ever underpaid, or groped during a photo-shoot, or exploited in some other way. However I’ll accept all this if necessary. In some ways I hope it’s true. It’s beside the point really.
I’m not complaining about the women who get their boobs out.
Objectification is one of those words that’s chucked around so often we’ve forgotten what it means. The definition from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary: to treat (someone) as an object rather than as a person. And when someone is running their eyes over the topless form of, let’s say, Danni Wells, I’m not convinced they’re thinking about the fact she’s from Coventry and was training to be a beauty therapist when her ‘potentials’ were spotted. Nope. She has become a body rather than a person – specifically, she has become a pair of boobs. (It’s worth noting here that while I was doing my research on Danni Wells a). I could only find her vital statistics and b). I came across a wiki called ‘Boobpedia’, two facts that really got on my, er, tits but rather illustrate my point). And if one woman has become a pair of boobs, then what do the rest of us become? How do we differ?
I’m not arguing against porn. As long as it’s viewed in private by adults and made by adults who are themselves not being exploited it’s a different beast (with two backs, fnurp). I don’t believe that most porn is made without exploitation and I do take offence at the grotesquely submissive nature of porn’s portrayal of women, but ultimately I can avoid it. And I can avoid my daughters seeing it.
Not so page 3. A busy commuter train, filled with professional, capable women going to work. A cafe, where my young daughters are enjoying fish fingers and chips for lunch. A van outside a school, where teenage schoolgirls jostle each other on their way home, hemlines high. All places I have seen men ‘reading’ page 3, enjoying the 45p thrill of seeing a pair of knockers with legs and a face. Surrounded by women and girls who are no different from those with their breasts exposed in the newspaper. Women and girls whom men have a perfect right to view as items for their sexual perusal: permission is granted by the easy and mainstream availability of images like these, right next to a news piece about David Cameron’s last speech, in a newspaper sold on eye-level shelves in the newsagent. The men know it and the women know it: We Are Our Tits.
‘Don’t buy it then’ is more or less what Cameron himself has to say on the subject. Here he spectacularly and no doubt intentionally misses the point. Nobody can be arsed to deal with this issue. Page 3 is so low-level, so inconsequential, so vote-winningly popular. Politicians don’t like to spar with The Sun and politicians like Cameron don’t have to think about its wider impact on women. I’m sure he’d tell me to calm down dear.
Anyway nobody can be arsed except Lucy Holmes who started the No More Page 3 petition about a year ago and the women and men who’ve signed it. It needs more signatures. Please sign it.
I feel very strange talking about Ziggler and Pickle’s tits. I hope when they develop them those boobs give them all the joy and handiness that mine have given me over the years. I hope, though, that it’s a personal joy and they don’t feel that their boobs make them fair game for a bit of a leer and a squeeze. And I want them to know that the whole of their person is important — how sexy they are, not so much.
If getting rid of page 3 is a single step on the way to our girls having that knowledge then let’s begin the journey. And if it isn’t, what do we sacrifice? A few men’s midday stiffies and some bubbles in a tycoon’s jacuzzi?