I hate Page 3.

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?

About vickola

Oops! I seem to be a stay at home mum. I'm writing about it to try and slow down the brain freeze.
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13 Responses to I hate Page 3.

  1. Dan Birkin says:

    The problem(s) with this argument are many fold. One is of freedom. One is of censorship. The one I want to mention in detail however is the contradiction.

    If you mention the way a woman dresses as a possible catalyst for unwanted attention. You are attacked for perpetuating ‘victim blaming’ (an argument itself riddled with obvious flaws) but, if you take a picture of that same woman then you are contributing to ‘rape culture’, devaluing women to the point where attacks on them are encouraged (apparently).

    This is quite obviously a double standard.

    Either the sexualised image of a woman (in the real world or on a flat bit of paper) encourage ‘rape’ or ‘Sexual harassment’ or they don’t. You can’t pick and choose psychological responses to the same stimulus just because you find one morally repugnant and the other Ok.

    • vickola says:

      By saying an image of a woman that is designed to be sexually arousing is the same as a human woman going about her business dressed as she sees fit, you are doing exactly what this piece is talking about. That is, turning real flesh-and-blood women into objects.

    • Tracy says:

      On freedom: the campaign is concerned with the freedom of adults and children to be able to go about their day without facing images which are simply inappropriate in public, and would be considered so in any other context (daytime TV for instance).
      On censorship: the campaign is not asking for a ban. We all moderate our behaviour every day in the name of community, we are simply asking The Sun to do the same.
      Regarding your main argument, I don’t really see the connection – I’ve never seen a woman sat around in public topless, posed to show how available she is with her boobs on display for anyone who walks past. A Page 3 image is not the same as a woman wearing any kind of outfit. It’s by definition the (almost) nakedness that makes Page 3 what it is and that’s why I find it inappropriate and that’s why it makes me uncomfortable.

    • Tracy says:

      Also, if I pose for Page 3 (or by publishing it) I actively invite comments on my appearance from strangers. The normalisation of this (the right to comment on a stanger’s appearance) is what becomes inappropriate when it’s someone walking down the street, who hasn’t asked for anyone’s opinion.

  2. Tracy says:

    The petition does not ask for a ban! It asks The Sun to make the decision themselves to stop being a dinosaur. It does not ask for legislation. It may be a subtle point, but it is a significant one I think.

  3. Great post! If men’s magazines have to be sold in plastic bags so no one can see the boobs in them, how the hell do The Sun continue to get away with this?

  4. ticobas says:

    I found this the most revealing paragraph of the blogpost:

    “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 [..]”

    It goes to the heart of why I won’t get on board with campaigns like NoMorePage3 and LoseTheLadsMags. Let me deconstruct:

    1. “Surrounded by women and girls who are no different from those with their breasts exposed in the newspaper.”
    A woman choosing to pose on Page 3 invites sexual attention to herself, particularly but not exclusively because of her bare breasts, whereas the women and girls in the train / shop most probably do not. This is a massive difference in terms of personal boundaries. Suggesting that the ‘surrounding’ women and girls are no different actually vindicates the attitude of those men who do not appreciate and/or respect the concept of personal boundaries and consent.

    2. “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”
    I asked you on Twitter and I’m asking again: How does mainstream availability of images like Page3 grant men permission to view women and girls as items for their sexual perusal? What about the preconceived ideas of other people’s personal boundaries, self-responsibility and consent that men hold? Is it not more plausible that these attitudes are a much more reliable predictor of attitude towards women rather than photos in a tabloid of women showing their breasts?

    Once the assumption (i.e. that mainstream availability of images like Page3 grant men permission to view women and girls as items for their sexual perusal) is abandoned, it should become clear that ‘losing’ the lads mags or Page 3 will not change this problem. I believe that investing in/ expanding appropriate sex and relationships education is a much better solution to the problem of (young) men trespassing women’s personal boundaries than a campaign based on social pressure / harassment.

    • vickola says:

      1. In terms of personal boundaries, I don’t think there are two kinds of women. I think a person’s boundaries are exactly what they tell you they are. The woman who poses bare-breasted for page 3 is consenting to have her image published in a newspaper, nothing more. She is not necessarily sexualising herself as a person. I am talking about the image, not the person, as I think I made clear.

      2. I think displaying women as sexual objects in freely available, mainstream media makes it acceptable for women to be seen as sexual objects. I think it influences everyone’s ideas of personal boundaries – men and women. If (when) my daughters come across these images how do I explain that it’s not normal for women to present themselves invitingly for the male gaze in their everyday lives? This idea is presented in an everyday ‘family’ newspaper.

      So I don’t abandon this assumption (and it wasn’t clear on Twitter that that’s what you were suggesting). I certainly agree with appropriate sex and relationships education for young people. Who wouldn’t? Why should this be instead of me stating my opinion that the existence of page 3 pisses me off?

    • Tracy says:

      My comment in response to both your points is that viewing Page 3 every day encourages a habit of viewing women in that way. That habit can spill over into daily life and affect all of us. It’s not inevitable, but I think it does make it just a little bit more likely; encouraging the “men who do not appreciate and/or respect the concept of personal boundaries and consent” that you talk about.

  5. Seth says:

    I’m never sure whether Page 3 is a) a woman showing off her body – particularly her breasts, or b) actually a largely naked woman whose lower private parts have been censored.

    I feel that the latter is somehow just as odd as the former, why should the rest of the body be on show but not that one little area. Either way, the parts that are (or aren’t) being shown, are not being shown (or not shown) in a way that helps create a positive environment for women to live in.

    In short, I’m against it.

    • vickola says:

      I must admit I have never thought of it like that. I can’t decide if I agree with you. I do think they are very odd photos, though. Often the woman’s facial expression seems completely disconnected to the rest of the picture. Like the model hasn’t really noticed her tits are completely exposed.

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