Monday, September 17, 2012

No more Page 3 petition flies past 10,000 signatures - advertisers' boycott planned

Last week when I wrote about why I support the No More Page 3 campaign, the petition started by Lucy Holmes only had around 1700 signatures. Now there's not far off 12,000, with 2,000 of them being added in the last 16 hours.

The campaign is taking off now. Lucy Holmes has featured in the Guardian, was on Radio Leicester this morning and will, hopefully, as a result, attract more national coverage.

I hope that there will be efforts to get more signatures at all of the Party Conferences coming up. It's not a party political campaign, but there are people there who are likely to be motivated to sign.

I thought I'd do a quick round up of some fabulous articles and blog posts I've read on the subject.

First of all, Deborah Orr in the Guardian says Page 3 is the tip of the iceberg of misogyny.

Context is important. The Sun is packed with news about successful men – sportsmen, politicians, businessmen, war heroes. For some of the far less successful men – reading these exploits – it must be a comfort to be reminded so graphically that while they themselves are not movers and shakers, they are at least not women, not just a couple of mounds of flesh on a body. Their gender is something they have in common with the men of whom they read. Women's only contribution, in Sun world, is to look pretty and prompt a penis-twitch.
Surely Page 3 caters only for men who don't have relaxed, healthy, mature relationships with women. I don't mean just sexual relationships, though that is a given. Can men who need a fix of tit each day really have healthy relationships with their mothers, sisters, daughters, let alone female colleagues or any possible female friends? Page 3 tells these men, very clearly, that their misogyny is OK, something they don't have to question or change in themselves, just part of being a man.
I might have known author Keris Stainton would have been one of the first people to sign up to the petition. She wrote way back on 5 September how the feature affected her as she was growing up:
When I started writing this post, I googled Maria Whittaker because I remembered her being the Page 3 Girl I most wanted to look like (the women with the unfeasibly large boobs were always my favourites, because I had unfeasibly large boobs – or, at least, I thought I did – so they gave me hope) and I learned that she made her Page 3 debut in 1985 when she was 16. I stared at that for a long time, blinking. She was 16. She was in a national newspaper, topless, for men to drool over and say “Look at the tits on that.” That’s what she was there for. There’s no possible other interpretation. (Is there?) A sixteen year old. In a newspaper. For the sole purpose of sexual objectification.
Tillyjean at For What it's Worth touches on something I had raised in my blog post - the dangerous sense of entitlement that men have towards women and how that's fuelled by things like page 3.
Furthermore, it gives men an entitlement to women that is, frankly, dangerous. Suggest that there should be no more Page 3, and you will inevitably have men say “you can’t rob me of my daily tits” or something similar. As if a man has a right to look at a woman’s breasts. There is no such right. They are not yours. They are the woman in question’s, and while she may well have opted to show them to you, this gives you no more right to them than if she hadn’t. According to government statistics, 300,000 women a year are sexually assaulted, and 60,000 are raped. Is it really harmless to put forward the idea that women exist for the sexual pleasure of men, and that this is a thing that men are entitled to, given that context?
Hayley Devlin is a friend of Lucy Holmes' and is helping with the campaign. Her own blog is The Hayley Diaries and she did this guest post, A Breastside Story,  for London Feminist.

I’m not even entirely sure what’s worse, being a girl and having Page 3 in your face every day making you question your own womanhood or having Page 3 in the face of young boys every day and have them grow up to, perhaps subconsciously, see women as little more than objects of sexual desire.
When I think about, is it really that much of a surprise that 98% of the boys I come across would rather chat to my chest than to face, whether I have the girls on show or not? When from a young age, and long before they start using Google for more sordid searches, they are being presented with a nice, very pretty, half naked lady on a daily basis?!

Over at Talatyaq, the author ponders how to explain the existence of page 3 to her hypothetical children.
Perhaps I would spend some time creating an elaborate, potentially newsworthy, story about why this woman appears to have lost her clothes in between questionable journalism on immigration and cringeworthy headlines about politicians. If it was just bad journalism, I’d let it be. I’m not a fan, but I wouldn’t question its existence. But it’s not bad journalism, It’s an entire page spread, that could actually be for, well, news,  instead being used to objectify a woman.
And, finally, the blog that started it all off. Lucy Holmes' original blog at Bea magazine. That mirrors my own experience of being told not to nurse my baby in a tea room where they had the Sun available for customers to read.
Then I thought back to numerous conversations I’ve had with various breastfeeding friends about the weird stigma surrounding breastfeeding. How is it that we live in a society which makes women feel uncomfortable breast feeding in public but is happy to show the bare breasts of teenagers in it’s biggest selling newspaper?
It's great that this campaign is getting people talking about page 3 and maybe thinking again about why it's really not a good thing. But won't the Sun just ignore it? Well, they might. But if it looks like they might lose money, they might be prepared to think again. That's why the next stage, according to the No More Page 3 Facebook page, is a boycott of the Sun's biggest advertisers for one week. I'm not sure sure about tackling all of them at once. It might actually be a better idea to take one or two a week for several weeks. I mean, if you're used to shopping in supermarkets, boycotting all of them at once might just be too difficult. It might increase participation over a longer period. Anyway, here's what they say about it:
We are inviting supporters to refrain from spending their money with The Sun’s biggest advertisers, Tesco, Morrison, Sainsbury's, Asda, Argos, DFS, for one week. Oct, 29th Oct-4thNov. We will be bigging this up more and more...oh yes, indeed, but for now please let this information wedge itself in your brains so you can think of alternative big shop arrangements oh and please, please SPREAD THE WORD!!!!
Let's hope this campaign is the one  which finally shames the Sun into ending this deeply unpleasant feature. If you haven't yet signed, there's a great big box in the right hand side bar which will take you straight to the petition, or you can simply click here. And in the time it's taken me to write this post, 2000 signatures have been gained. Amazing stuff.

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