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Bare boobs are not news

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NMP3‘If you don’t like it don’t buy it’ – Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that?

Guest post by Lucy-Anne Holmes, writer and actress currently working on the No More Page 3 campaign ‘to take the bare boobs out of the Sun’ newspaper.

This article appeared in The Huffington Post on 15 March 2013.

I’ve got a confession to make. I may have been a bit silly starting the No More Page 3 campaign. You see, someone just tweeted us something. “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it”, the tweet read.

There was I, ballistically campaigning about Page Three being damaging when, oh, I really am feeling very stupid now, because I could just not buy it and everything would be fine. So, I’ll be off then. Sorry about that. Or rather. No. Just no.

There are so many reasons why “if you don’t like it, don’t buy it” doesn’t work as an argument for Page 3, that I will be breaking out the big gun bullet points.

So, here goes. This is for you, Mr If You Don’t Like It Don’t Buy It and all the others before you, and that includes you, Nick Clegg.

1) I was most affected by these images at the age of 11 when my breasts were developing and my brother and his mates would be commenting on Page Three girls breasts everyday. I really looked up to my big brother and this situation taught me that my breasts were only there for men to look at. Mine fell short of the ones that were in the daily newspaper, therefore I was failing somehow and I was ashamed. I didn’t buy it.

2) Jo, a teammate on the campaign, used to work in a pub in North Yorkshire, where Page Three lay on the bar every evening. She was sexually harassed every day as comments were made about her breasts and the models, until she was eventually sexually assaulted. She didn’t buy it.

3) The school girl, who wrote to the Everyday Sexism project saying that the boys in her school hold up Page Three in the corridor and mark the girls out of 10 as they walk past, doesn’t buy it.

4) The woman who was made to look at Page Three while she was abused as a child, didn’t buy it.

5) When Clare Short stood up in the 80s and spoke out about these pictures being in the paper, she received thousands of letters of support. Twelve were from women who had Page Three mentioned to them while they were being raped. These women didn’t buy it.

6) The woman who sits in a staff room every day while a male colleague shows Page Three to all the men with the words ‘would you do that?’ doesn’t buy it.

7) The nurse who wrote and told us that she has to treat men as they comment on young women’s breasts, doesn’t buy it.

8) The mother who took her six-year-old daughter to a café for a treat and found Page Three lying open on a table and was asked “Mummy, why isn’t that lady wearing a top?” doesn’t buy it.

9) The father who felt outraged that a man was looking at Page Three while his three-and-a-half year-old daughter was having a hair cut, didn’t buy it.

10) The teacher who asks the class to bring in newspapers for painting and has to explain why there’s a naked woman in the ‘news’paper, doesn’t buy it.

And, as writer Lauren Bravo said, “if you can’t communicate the logic of something in simple terms a kid can grasp, there’s a good chance it might be completely stupid”.

We are all affected by Page Three whether we buy it or not, because we all live in a society where the most widely read paper in the country makes ‘normal’ the idea that women are there primarily for men’s sexual pleasure.

As one woman noted on our Facebook page, “if I lived in times of slavery, I wouldn’t be content not to buy a slave, I’d protest against it because I believe it to be wrong”.

‘If you don’t like it, don’t buy it’ doesn’t work, believe me. I wish it did.

To sign the petition asking Dominic Mohan to stop showing pictures of topless young women in Britain’s most widely read newspaper and to stop conditioning the Sun’s readers to view women as sex objects, click here.

  1. When my 6 year-old son is at a cafe with me, gawping at the page 3 picture on another customer’s newspaper. I don’t buy it.

  2. Melissa says:

    This is so true! I think the sexualisation of women is such a big problem in our society and I’m glad someone’s fighting it.
    Thanks for posting :)

  3. Jessica says:

    My friend’s Dad who read the Sun, and I remember Page 3 often being open on the table at their house, used to comment lewdly on my (and sometimes his own daughter’s) developing breasts. There was a clear link and he also used to show us the occasional picture – which he thought was funny. Neither of us bought the Sun. We were affected by its misogyny though. Significantly, we also thought this was relatively normal. We didn’t like it, but accepted it as ‘one of those things’.

  4. A lot of people seem to rationalise this behaviour by comparing it to something worse. Comparing one bad thing to a worse thing does not make the bad thing acceptable. Yes, there is gradation, but it doesn’t change WHERE things are on the scale. Good is still good, and bad is still bad. Dehumanisation – in ANY form – is unacceptable, and must be stopped.

  5. Thank you for this comment Jessica, I think it should be posted everywhere, it’s exactly the sort of subtle, every-day reason why Page 3 needs to get canned. It’s the normalising of this objectification that’s so damaging and the impact it has not only on those buying and viewing it, but, as you so clearly show, the effect it has on the younger people exposed to it.

  6. A Solomon says:

    Hi Melinda, In relation to your post about Page Three girls in Newspapers, I wanted to share the experience I had with the Australian Newspaper a few years ago now. Can’t believe I haven’t already shared this with others. I had been an almost daily reader of the Australian – it was the keeping me informed about the Iraq and Afganistan wars and Aussie politics better than any other newspaper. Plus I am a big fan of Janet Albrechsten! Anyway they made some major changes to the paper – they changed the section headings and the type font and all kinds of things. Quite suddenly, bare breassted women started appearing when they weren’t there before. Otfen it was subtle in artwork, but mostly it wasn’t. There would be a “news” article or add which included an open shirt woman somewhere in the paper, not usually page 3…maybe page 5 or 6!
    I started counting how often they were there, and after a period of six months, I realized they were so often they were there to stay.
    I decided to write an email to the editor. I said that I was an avid reader who bought the paper every day, but noticed that they were now making any excuse to put women’s breasts in the paper. I told them I started counting, but had now lost count. I said that I was saddened and offended and that the the pictures degraded the very high standing of the newspaper. I was very sad that I now had to go and find my news somewhere else. The breasts suddenly stopped appearing!!
    I was amazed a simple email complaint could bring such changes to one of Australia’s leading papers. I still keep an eye on the paper, and they haven’t returned. Needless to say, my loyalty to the Australian Newspaper is even greater now that I know how highly they value their female readers! It has been a great encouragement for me to continue to press for change. I hope my story encourages you too.

  7. A Solomon says:

    Hi Melinda, In relation to your post about Page Three girls in Newspapers, I wanted to share the experience I had with the Australian Newspaper a few years ago now. Can’t believe I haven’t already shared this with others. I had been an almost daily reader of the Australian – it was the keeping me informed about the Iraq and Afganistan wars and Aussie politics better than any other newspaper. Plus I am a big fan of Janet Albrechsten! Anyway they made some major changes to the paper – they changed the section titles and type font and all kinds of things. Quite suddenly, bare breassted women started appearing when they weren’t there before. Often it was subtle in artwork, but mostly it wasn’t. There would be a “news” article which included an open shirt woman somewhere in the paper, not usually page 3…maybe page 5, 6 or 10!
    I started counting how often they were there, and after a period of six months, I realized they were so often they were there to stay.

    I decided to write an email to the editor. I said that I was an avid reader who bought the paper every day, but noticed that they were now making any excuse to put women’s breasts in the paper. I told them I had now lost count. I said that I was saddened and offended and that they degraded the very high standing of the newspaper. I was very disappointed that I now had to go and find my news somewhere else.
    The breasts suddenly stopped appearing!!
    I was amazed a simple email complaint could bring such change to one of Australia’s leading papers. I still keep an eye on the paper, and they haven’t returned. I am now an even more loyal customer of the Australian now that I know they are very concerned about their female readers. It’s a great encouragement for me to continue to press for change. I hope my story encourages you too.
    Kind regards, Mrs Ann Solomon Kallangur Qld

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