If you’ve been living under a rock, you may not have heard the rumour that Page 3’s run has come to an end. If so, don’t fret: it hasn’t.
Today The Sun’s page 3 was as normal. I say “normal”, but it really shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t be normal for a woman’s bare breasts to be printed in a newspaper (note newspaper- breasts aren’t exactly news: whether you believe in Evolution or Creation, breasts have been around for quite a while!) to be leered at. It’s just a bit of fun, though, right?
Wrong. While I’m sure many of the glamour models who pose for The Sun and similar publications- because, let’s be fair, The Sun is in no way the only media guilty of objectification and sexism- have fun and feel sexy being photographed topless, I’m equally sure that a fair few of them are vulnerable, in need of work, fame-hungry etc. Exploiting young girls so that letchy blokes can smirk at their tits is not, in my opinion, fun.
Nor is it fun for the people who have to sit next to people on the Tube who are reading The Sun. Or for the parents who have to explain Page 3 to their young children. I’ve only read The Sun around two times, when other papers have run out, and it made me feel really dirty. It’s not that I’m embarrassed by nudity. It’s more that I find Page 3 and its ilk repulsively degrading.
I know people are claiming Page 3’s “return” is a victory for the Free the Nipple campaign, but I disagree. In my understanding, Free the Nipple tries to make the point that women’s nipples are no more shocking than men’s, and therefore we shouldn’t be ashamed by women walking around topless. 100% correct in my opinion. Except, I don’t think people reading The Sun are looking at Lucy,22, from Kent and thinking, “You go girl” because she’s topless and not taking any rubbish about her chest being any more obscene than a man’s. The details “Lucy”, “22”, and “Kent” are irrelevant the second Lucy’s pictures hit the press. Lucy’s face is irrelevant. All that matters is her chest. She isn’t a person, she is two perky tits on a page. See: objectification.
I think both the End Page 3 and Free the Nipple campaigns go hand in hand. Yes, women should be able to walk around topless- depending on context, I should add. I don’t think ending Page 3 would hinder that aim. I think it would really help it. The problem, as I see it, stems from society’s opinions of women’s sexuality. On the one hand we should be sexually available and for the taking- hence the Page 3 pictures that send out the message that women are objects for men’s sexual gratification. On the other, we should be virginal and innocent and modest. Pretty straightforward, right? Ummm…
Breasts are extremely sexualised. Hence Page 3. Hence the general opinion that they should be kept covered up. It really grates, to be honest, because sexualised images of these balls of fat stuck to our chests are okay, but women are really shamed for publically using breasts as they are supposed to be used i.e. breast-feeding. I want to scream every time I hear that a mum has been asked to leave a restaurant because she was breast-feeding at the table. Cue the cries of “but it’s unhygienic!”. Um, no. What’s unhygienic is feeding a baby in a germ-filled toilet cubicle. Either look away, or grow up.
Yes, let’s free the nipple. Hell, yes! But that doesn’t mean we should allow objectification to occur as a result. It’s not progress otherwise- and the same applies to the topless pictures of tanned six-packed blokes in girls’ mags. You’re still reducing someone to an object if you letch at a six-pack and not at breasts!
I am curious to your thoughts, though. Are you happy Page 3 is back? Do you too want to have a feminist rant at Murdoch in The Sun’s HQ? Leave your comments below!