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No More Page 3: What do you think?

November 23, 2012
A man reads the Sun newspaper

The Sun: Don’t like it, don’t buy it? (Image: Flickr, Creative Commons, by ‘Vapour trail’)

“No more Page 3.” It’s a plea becoming ever more familiar, both online and off, as thousands of women (and, it’s fair to say, men) decide that enough is enough.

For 43 years, The Sun newspaper has shown an image of a young woman, in pants but no bra, bearing her breasts in full technicolour glory. The accompanying ‘News in Briefs’ (a pun on ‘News in Brief’…geddit?) is always a short analysis of one of the day’s serious stories, supposedly but often doubtfully from the girl herself, apparently spouting erudite analysis on current affairs while simultaneously removing her shirt.

A fair-enough addition or a further insult to the idea that ‘beautiful’ women can’t possibly have anything useful to say?

This is the idea behind No More Page 3: a petition to The Sun editor Dominic Mohan, asking that he remove the page once and for all.

Run by Brighton-based Lucy-Anne Holmes, the campaign is gaining widespread support and has amassed 58,000 ‘signatures’ already – although many have pointed out that that is a tiny amount compared to the millions who read the paper every day.

Sabrina Mahfouz, who describes herself as a poet and performer, is just one of the women speaking out loudly and strongly against Page 3 (see her strong-worded poem, below), while famously outspoken and controversial journalist Caitlin Moran tweeted “Teenage tits aren’t news OR a feature”. Fellow journalist Janet Street-Porter asked “it’s hard to see how a pair of nipples can sell a paper in 2012.”

Yet, many (men and women alike) have said they disagree entirely. Surely, they say, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. The women arguing against it, they argue, don’t even read the Sun, aren’t in its target audience, and are casually ignoring the fact that millions of women read the paper everyday without so much as blinking an eyelid.

Is Page 3, compared to all the other kinds of pornography, a non-issue? Are people getting worked up over nothing?  Telegraph blogger Brendan O’Neill called the petition ‘censorious’ and argued that it’s much more about patronising snobbery than about concern for women or the men than see them.

And what is it about breasts that symbolise what it means to be a woman today?

Is it really demeaning to appreciate the female form, ask critics, especially in this not-especially-pornographic, ‘tongue-in-cheek way? Is this petition arguing that women’s breasts are offensive? Does listening to what women have to say, rather than how they look, really mean that they need to cover up from here on in?

What, big-breasted, young women are quite within their rights to say, does this mean for me and my boobs?

Supporters of the campaign, however, say it’s nothing to do with forcing women indoors – simply that Page 3, which is published in the most-read newspaper in Britain, presents women in a sexist light, valuing them only for their looks – and only when they’re young, smooth, exaggerated and fertile, at that – and disregarding their intellect or wit.

Alongside a media that still features more men than women writing about the so-called ‘hard-hitting’ subjects such as politics and economics, surely the first step to valuing women as people rather than objects is to remove an image that objectifies them only for the two things sitting on their chest?

The Boob Blog is a place to discuss boobs. And this issue has, quite literally, put boobs at the forefront of the agenda.

What do you think? What does Page 3 mean for booby women – or women in general? Should Page 3 be removed? Do you want to sign the petition? Or do you think people need to just lighten up and not buy what they don’t like? Join the debate below.

More to read: Decide for yourself

See the petition 

Lucy-Anne Holmes talks to the Independent on why she started the campaign 

Martin Robbins calls the campaign ‘sinister’ in the New Statesman

Telegraph blogger Brendan O’Neill says it’s just all about snobbery

See No More Page 3 on Twitter 

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