So, it turned out that The Sun was trolling us all along. Although it seemed for a moment that Page 3 had reached its demise, it was reinstated within a week with a cheeky wink from a Page 3 Girl and a cackle from newspaper executives that Page 3 is very much here to stay. Although they succeeded in getting the publicity they were looking for, that’s not all that has come of this; the No More Page 3 campaign has equally been revitalised and there is more talk than ever about this outdated, sexist institution.
To say that this is an issue which divides opinion would be a massive understatement, and there are plenty of people willing to speak out both for and against Page 3. But, is it really still worth fighting?
When it looked like Page 3 had taken early retirement, former glamour model Jodie Marsh spoke out against the move, saying that “telling girls they shouldn’t do Page 3 is not being a feminist…Women should empower and encourage other women. For that is the only way to be truly ‘equal’ and have rights.” Leaving aside the obvious fallacies in that statement (since I’m not sure ‘encouraging’ each other will actually provide constitutional rights…), this is a common criticism of campaigns of this nature.
People are quick to judge feminists for ruining the fun – but let’s be clear, this campaign isn’t about the Page 3 Girls themselves. Whilst I’m loathe to generalise, I’m sure that most of them enjoy their work and have made an active choice to appear semi-naked in the paper, and until proven I wouldn’t dispute otherwise.
That said, let’s not kid ourselves that Page 3 has ever been about empowering women. These women may have made money, they may have had a blast on their shoot, they may have found the whole thing personally empowering, but as an institution Page 3 is outdated, sexist and certainly not designed with women’s liberation in mind. Just because the bosses jump onto empowerment narratives to justify their choices doesn’t make them so. That there are only ever Page 3 Girls and never Page 3 Guys is just one indication of that.
Why is it that women always have to get naked to be empowered, but men can find their empowerment in other ways? If getting naked in a national newspaper is really all that empowering, surely men should want in on the action. And whilst we’re at it, why is it only women who fit a narrow mould get to be empowered?
Boobs Aren’t News
Feminists love boobs as much as the next person. They’re leading the charge on the #freethenipple campaign, are big advocates of public breastfeeding, and are generally just boob-friendly. But No More Page 3 has never been just about the boobs – it’s far more about the ways in which women are consistently objectified in the media.
Page 3 is just one small part of a much larger culture, which treats women’s bodies as public property. To have this so blatantly demonstrated in the most-read newspaper in the country is symptomatic of how normalised this has become. It is not only children who are being taught something by the presence of Page 3 (although much of the objection against it takes a ‘think of the children’ line), its effect is widespread. Women are for public consumption – a theme which is sadly mirrored in other, more serious, problems: lad culture, street harassment, rape culture and domestic violence.
To see just one part of this complex puzzle topple would certainly be a victory for women (and men – you’re more than just animals salivating over body parts, aren’t you?!). This isn’t just a petty fight, it’s part of a larger struggle.
The Sun has made it pretty clear that they have no plans to get rid of this outdated feature any time soon, so is the campaign still worth it? It can be dispiriting to see defeat. It can be frustrating when change moves slowly and doesn’t go exactly as you want – but it is still worth fighting for. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the saying goes, and Patriarchy won’t be smashed in one either.
Page 3 is demonstrative of the sexist attitudes which still pervade society, and that can be a hard thing to shift. No, The Sun will never become a feminist publication – or at least, I’m pretty sure I’ll never live to see that day – but change can still happen for the positive. This is just one blow in a longer fight. There’s no doubt that more people have been persuaded by the case of No More Page 3 in the past week, and there is strength in numbers. Bit by bit, the battle can be won.
So, what do you think? Is it worth fighting against Page 3?
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