Friday, 21 November 2014

Why Page 3’s departure is long overdue

The Sun newspaper has featured topless women on Page 3 since 1970, meaning bare-breasted women have been gracing the eyes of readers for over 40 years.  Now, in the 21st Century, I feel Page 3 has more than outstayed it's welcome.

Why?  Well, some may argue it’s a bit of harmless viewing that’s easy on the eye.  It isn't demeaning women; it’s celebrating them, what's so wrong with that?  These women are choosing to display themselves in this way, no one is forcing them to take their clothes off and get their breasts out.  They’re also real women, smart women; women like Sabine, 23 from London who’s ‘a bookworm on a mission to beat bullies,’ making her both respectable and interesting. This is really important because ensuring that these women are viewed as people, and not objects, is clearly imperative for The Sun.

The only thing is, it’s not harmless… in fact it’s actually doing quite a lot of harm.  Today, when women are still striving hard for equality, Page 3 is a prime example of how we are still very much, living in a patriarchal society.  The fact, let’s face it, softcore porn is circulating in a national newspaper says a lot about our society.  When did it become acceptable and appropriate to dedicate a page to a bare-breasted woman in a newspaper and for people to think that was OK?

Furthermore, why does the act of breast-feeding in public often generate so much uproar when women on Page 3 are casually getting their breasts out on the regular.  Somehow it doesn't quite seem right that women are being frowned upon for feeding their child (a very natural thing), yet it's perfectly acceptable to bare them in a national newspaper for scopophilic reasons.  The sexualisation and objectification of women’s bodies is what has made actions like this taboo when it should be the other way round.  By allowing this page to continue, it is perpetuating the idea that it is OK for women to be looked at like sexual objects, to be leered at and to be enjoyed.  It is also feeding children, especially young lads, with the idea that it’s normal to look at women in this way, a perception that they may well carry with them throughout their life.

Page 3 is a clear culprit of sexism; we don’t see men sprawled seductively in the middle of a national newspaper with their penises on show, accompanied with a cute little degrading memo highlighting their 'hobbies and interests,' so why is it acceptable to have women displayed like this?  The fact men feel comfortable buying and reading this paper for the ‘perks’ of Page 3 feels incredibly childish and almost embarrassing.  The need and desire to look at women in this way seems somewhat primitive, outdated and really needs be addressed.

By all means I am not saying nudity is a bad thing or that women shouldn't be able to display themselves however they want to, but this is a matter of time and place and The Sun newspaper isn't one of them.  Page 3 highlights all that is wrong and unequal about society; men as the dominant and powerful gender in a patriarchal society.  It is an insult to women, to feminists and even to men.  Men are labelled as perverted and uncouth and are potentially stereotyped as a result of reading The Sun (even if they take no real interest in Page 3). Unsurprisingly, The Sun's readership statistics from March 2014 show that 57.6% are men over 42.3% of women.  The Sun clearly appeals to their dominant reader and this is most likely down to their 'USP' of Page 3 (well it's hardly down to their trustworthy and compelling content). 

In addition, the fact half-naked women are still appearing in UK’s most popular paper, and has been made popular by the majority, gives reason as to why there is still so much sexism and misogyny circulating in society.  By letting Page 3 stay, we are fuelling sexism and inequality, we are saying yes, as a nation, to the objectification and sexualization of the female body, and more importantly, we are ridiculing any progress that has been made by feminists in an attempt to become equal.


  1. I agree with you, page 3 has no place in a modern national newspaper. On the other hand if every woman who went around ranting about equality in the work place handed a baby back to its father instead of its mother once in a while, or asked daddy how she was sleeping (cos yano, he lives in that house too and even gets up in the night!) the our society would be a lot fairer and less hypocritical a place.

    Yes, undeniably page 3 has an effect on how women are view, it sexualizes them. Maybe it is the reason the glass ceiling still exists. However when was the last time you saw a manly nappy bag?

    I put it to you that however hard it is for us to break into the patriarchal corporate world, it is just as hard for men to break into our "areas of society". It saddens me deeply that my partner is expected by my friends to have more interest in his Xbox, his job or his Saturday football game than is our daughters latest developmental milestone. Men are not expected, in fact they are often actively discouraged from taking an interest in their off springs child care, schooling and even their emotional well being. I have seen how hard it is for dads to break into a group of "mummys"

    I think we would all do well to remember that equality is no longer just about Womens rights, it is about making sure that any child, boy or girl can fulfill their dreams. Whether that be as a stay at home parent or an operations director. After all arnt we supposed to be fighting to make the future brighter for everyone, not just us ladies?

  2. Think I strayed a little off topic in my tired state there. anyway my point was that yes, sexualization is awful and it damages society. But it isn't necessarily the fault of these dominant and powerful men. Too many equality articles these days stray so far from supporting true equality it's laughable. In fact in most I have ready lately go as far as to slate and/or blame men for something that is largely in the control of the woman. In this case being photographed naked.

    Phrases like "women are striving hard for equality" really get my back up. The savage Joe bloggs is more than happy for you to have your equality, but let's try sharing that around so we are truely fighting for equality and not the right to become the dominant sex.

  3. Thanks for your reply

    However at no point do I say we, as women should become a dominant sex or try to 'rule the world' but instead; that we clearly live in a world that isn't equal and Page 3 is a prime example of that. I feel men are becoming just as sexualised as women in general, but not via a national newspaper. I also don't feel that women control this, look at the people who own the paper, people who dominate our government, these are people majorly made up of men and choosing not to address this sexism.

    I also agree with you that any child - boy, or girl should be able to fulfil their dreams, but with representations such as Page 3, still present in a national newspaper, it is making this harder for them both.

  4. I agree with you, as I said that your main point is more than valid. its just some of the outdated and overused cliche support arguments i have issues with.

    As for page 3's effect on young boys, the countries with the best statistics on safe and consensual sex of young adults and lack of underage pregnancy have a lot more soft core porn thrown around than the UK. Its not about the quantity, or even where they see it, but instead it is about how they are taught and encouraged to view it. I would much rather see page 3 transformed into something that represents modern times, that see it removed all together so that all the sexual education of the public is done behind closed doors online where the is no monitoring and women may be objectified to the content of the user.

    I take your point about the executives all being men, however 7/12 of their senior management team are women. Not exactly a fair split but still a pretty estrogen heavy environment. And each of those women on page 3 has consented to having her image used.

    Personally I think page 3 is more of a symptom of our unequal society than it is a cause. If more women were open about their own feelings and desires instead of being taught, and continuing to hide it away like proper ladies then im sure there would be men on page 3 too.