I have long been a supporter of the No More Page Three campaign. Tits aren’t news. Sadly, the reduction of women to sexual objects isn’t news either. Page three has been around my whole life, shaping my views of what a “sexy” woman is before I even knew I had them.
I wasn’t sure this was a campaign I expected to be successful. The Sun may have lost some of it’s cache, but it’s still pretty powerful. It’s still the paper with the highest circulation. Page three has many vocal champions in powerful places. The succession of editors who have run the paper are simply too intransigent, too unwilling to be persuaded as to what is right by a bunch of uppity women.
The No More Page Three campaign is – by contrast – a scrappy insurgent. II was satisfied that the campaign was fulfilling many secondary objectives. It allows a space for the discussion of female objectification. It offered an alternative viewpoint so young girls might be allowed not to believe that naked and pouting is the role of women in public life. That alone is worthy of the attention that this David and Goliath contest has had.
However, it turns out, David is Davina, and she has a great, clunking birth canal.
Today, the Sun have launched a campaign against breast cancer. Sorry, no, Page three of the Sun has (this was announced on page one).
Tying this campaign explicitly to Page Three is – presumably – intended to make Page Three harder to attack. I’m guessing the line will run: if you attack page three you want women to die of cancer. It’s a very, very poor move on the part of the Sun.
Firstly, it acknowledges for the first time the strength of the opposition to Page Three. Until now, the Sun and it’s supporters’ tactic was to shrug off the campaign as marginal. To sideline it just as they mainstream soft porn. His volte face shows they are running scared. Shows they feel the need to protect Page Three – to attempt to legitimise it. This may look like an aggressive counter move, but make no mistake – it is a retreat.
Secondly, the Sun are the ones trying to play games with cancer victims. Let’s suppose that the wonderful women behind the No More Page 3 campaign don’t instantly capitulate like the weak little girlies the Sun clearly think they are. What if they keep going and eventually, the Sun do bow to the pressure to do the right thing. Are the Sun really going to withdraw funding from Breast Cancer care and research (as the Sun’s campaign is behind a firewall I don’t have the exact details, the Times I will pay for, but this is a step too far even for you my dear readers!) ? And do they think that by doing so, they will be able to shift the blame on to the anti-page three campaigners? Hardly seems likely!
Finally, what about women who are survivors of breast cancer? Has anyone asked them how they feel about this move? Or about page three more generally? I’d be willing to bet some – particularly those who have had more severe surgical treatments – might not have a 100% positive attitude to the objectification on display. Some might want to see a greater variety of women’s shapes and sizes recognised as sexy for example. Not just the same pert parade day in day out. One of the sexiest things about the human race is our capacity for variety. This is overlooked by the hard of imagination editors of the Sun.
I used to be a resignedly sceptical supporter of the campaign to end Page Three. As a republican it’s a feeling I am used to. But this move shows how rattled the Sun truly are. How close therefore we are to victory. One last push (up) women. We’re with you!