No More Page Three – Frequently Asked Questions
We put these questions – and No More Page 3′s answers – here, in the hope that they will persuade you that it is totally reasonable to ask Dominic Mohan to take the bare boobs out of the Sun.
Q. Who is behind No More Page Three?
A. The founder of the campaign is writer and actor Lucy Anne Holmes, who started the campaign because she became sad that the most prominent (excuse the pun) photograph of a woman in the widest circulation British newspaper is of a young woman in just her knickers. The team is now 10 strong and growing you can read more about us here.
Q. You people are just prudes who hate sex, aren’t you?
A. No! We love it! This is not about sex, as such, it’s about the appropriateness, or not, of sexual imagery in a national daily newspaper which is seen, according to market data, by 7.5 million people per day. Many of them have not chosen to view these images, but they can’t be avoided!
Q. So why are you trying to get Page Three banned?
A. That’s not what we are doing. This is not about censorship, or passing an Act of Parliament to force Dominic Mohan, the editor of The Sun, to scrap Page Three. We are asking him – politely – to remove it voluntarily, because it mocks and disrespects women, and tries to teach Sun readers to do the same. It is also so outdated! The Daily Mirror used to feature topless Page Three girls in the 1970s. It dropped the feature in the 1980s because it realised that, culturally, the rest of Britain had moved on, and to keep on featuring bare breasts in a family newspaper would make it look like a dinosaur…
Q.Is there any political or religious affiliation behind No More Page Three?
A. No. It’s just us, with no particular guiding philosophy, other than respect for women.
Q. So… if you don’t like it, don’t buy it…
A. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for us. What we are worried about is that The Sun, unlike ‘Lads’ Mags’, has a circulation of about two and a half million copies a day, and our supporters tell us they regularly see copies in restaurants, takeaways, pubs, on buses and trains, in workplace canteens and common rooms. Images like those in The Sun used to be commonplace on ‘girly’ calendars in the workplace. Thanks to employment legislation, most of the calendars and pin-ups have gone, leaving The Sun as one of the few places in Britain where you can encounter pictures of topless women in the workplace, and in places where children might see them. The Sun doesn’t run Page Three pictures at the weekend in case children see it. It makes you wonder how children are miraculously protected from seeing Page Three on a weekday.
Also you can have a look at this lovely article by Lucy on the Huff post website for a more in depth answer to this question.
Q. Aren’t you just a bunch of Guardian-reading, wheatgerm-eating wimmin who don’t even read the Sun – what gives you the right to have an opinion on this?
A. No, we are not Sun readers – gosh – can you imagine why that might be? But your argument seems to be that only Sun readers are entitled to a view on Page Three. It’s an argument devoid of logic! It’s like saying that only smokers can have a view on whether cigarettes are harmful. So no – whoever we are – and our supporters come from a broad demographic of women and men – we are entitled to form an opinion on what the daily exposure (pardon the pun again!) to women stripped to their knickers might have on society’s views of women and their capabilities.
Q. You are just jealous because you don’t look like the women on Page 3!
A. Sadly, not many women do, and the men we know don’t have perfect bodies either. But we’ve got over it, and the campaign isn’t primarily about our feelings. It’s about what we should say to young women and girls – daughters, nieces, sisters, friends and work colleagues, about where to obtain their self-esteem. Page Three teaches them that a woman’s worth is all about the way she looks and her sexual availability to men. We like to think that worth is about achievements, aspirations, values, and relationships. There’s not much about that in the newspapers.
Q. But there will always be pornography, won’t there? You can’t get rid of it all.
A. We’re pragmatists. Yes, there will always be pornography, both in print and on line. But let’s make sure that people who view pornography have made a conscious choice to look at it. When it’s in The Sun, it’s in the face of lots of people who don’t want to see it at all, especially women, many of whom feel uncomfortable seeing these images. This is not an anti-porn campaign, it’s a campaign against women’s breasts being acceptable daily content for a family newspaper. They are not. Boobs aren’t news.
Q. Nobody is forcing these women to model for Page Three. Aren’t you going to put glamour models out of a job when they are only trying to make a living?
A. There are plenty of opportunities for glamour models in other magazines (which incidentally, we think should be on the “top shelf”). Our campaign isn’t focused on them or the complex reasons that they do what they do. Former glamour model, Alex Sim-Wise, in an interview with Vice magazine (don’t ask us how we found that!) says:
‘There are definitely negatives from working in glamour. A classic example is that you’d get a message from a fan and they’d be like “Oh, you’re amazing, I want to wank over you.” But if you turn around and say anything negative, they’ll be like, “You’re a bitch, you’re a whore, you only got what you have because you got your tits out.’
Not much respect for Alex from that ‘fan’, is there? Alex’s open letter to The Guardian is also really instructive, and lifts the lid on the ‘glamour’ world.
Q. But Page Three is a bit of harmless fun, isn’t it?
A. We don’t think so. Publishing soft porn in a daily newspaper, along with the TV guide and the footie scores, makes it ‘normal’ to see porn in everyday life, and it shouldn’t be. This is the place where young girls’ body image anxiety begins if they don’t look like the Page Three girls, and where young boys get their ideas that women’s bodies should be instantly available as a resource for men‘s sexual gratification, because, be honest, that’s what these pictures are used for.
Another point is – we’d love to see more positive pictures of successful women (with clothes on) achieving things. In our newspapers we tend to see scantily clad women, looking sexy, and fully dressed men doing stuff. Is that what our world is like? Is that the way it should be? How do those pictures shape our attitudes?
Q. Haven’t you got bigger problems to think about? World hunger, war, climate change… by comparison, this is trivial, you should stop wasting time on it.
A. We don’t think it’s trivial. It’s the most in-your-face incidence of soft pornography in British culture, and we believe it shapes men’s attitudes to women, and women’s attitudes to themselves. We don’t think it belongs with the news; Page Three gives us all the misleading impression that treating women as objects is normal, when if you stop to think about it, it isn’t. What do children think when they see these pictures (and they do)? Men in clothes, making the news because of the things they do. Women without clothes, only featured because of the way they look?
As for other causes – well, just because you support this one doesn’t mean you can’t support many others. Some of our supporters are very active in other important campaigns. We’re multi-tasking here.
Q. I bet if it was half-naked, sexy men on Page Three you wouldn’t complain.
A. We’d like both women and men to be treated with respect, so “getting our own back” by ogling photos of men is not a great idea. Two wrongs don’t make a right! Besides, the two situations are not equivalent. There is evidence that sexually charged photos of women are likely to lead men towards thinking of women as permanently sexually available, and to more harassment of women. Unwanted sexual attention directed at a woman always has overtones of physical threat. It’s difficult to think of pictures of half-naked men taking on that threatening aspect.
Q. You can’t prove that the Sun causes men to treat women badly.
A. No, but we are living in a country where the government’s official statistics show that there were 60,000 rapes in England and Wales in 2011 and 300,000 sexual assaults.* And those are just the ones that were reported. In addition, our friends at The Everyday Sexism Project (www.everydaysexism.com) are collecting women’s accounts of the discrimination, threats, abuse and violence they are exposed to at work, in class, on public transport, in clubs and bars, and in our streets. Read that website and you will see that the problems are widespread and often non-trivial. Perhaps we should wonder whether daily exposure to pornography in an ordinary newspaper might make this shocking situation A) better or B) worse.