Since the start of October, I have been supporting the No More Page 3 cause. I had always thought it a bit of a weird concept: every day a new young lady gets naked in the most widely-read newspaper in the country. From birth we’re taught not to judge a book by it’s cover; to value people for their thoughts, actions, and abilities; that everybody is equal, regardless of race or sex or disabilities or otherwise. This is, of course, not a complete list but you hopefully get the picture.
Page 3 tramples over every single one of these. Although maybe ‘trample’ is not a strong enough word.
The ‘models’ are always white (bar 4 black women since it’s inception), 18-25 (since they stopped using under-18s in 2003 due to a change in the law), women of a certain body-type (long hair, hourglass figure, big breasts, no disabilities, etc.). And almost every day there is a new ‘model’ to fulfill the needs (overwhelmingly) of men across the country.
What kind of message does that send to people? I can spell it out if needs be:
“This is what is beautiful. Throw her away when you’re done, and tomorrow there will be someone new just for you.”
My view is that Page 3 creates an entitlement and demand for the objectification of the bodies of women. By no means is it the only source, and to make that argument would be naive. There are obviously far worse things, content-wise, out there in the world. But the everyday normal-ness of Page 3 is what makes it so insidious. Right now it is considered an institution, but were men to play cards with a pornographic deck in public there would be an outcry. Not so much if they look at teenage tits on the train, though.
Even The Sun calls for regulation on internet porn whilst promoting, to anyone that buys it, that Page 3 is now Page 360 on their website. Use your imagination, or rather, don’t.
The normalising effect of all this nudity over the days and weeks and months and years that someone will read it will (hopefully by now) obviously lead to an entitlement to female bodies, as documented by groups like the Everyday Sexism Project and Hollaback!
Anyway, the reason that I bring this all up is because of a contradictory opinion I read today. It was billed as a ‘feminist takedown of No More Page 3’ and I was fairly excited to say the least. Most criticism so far has come from people either completely missing the point and refusing to read any of our arguments, or, even better, outright attacking us.
So something a little more thoughtful and measured piqued my interest to say the least. But it was a huge letdown.
So many of the arguments miss the point that it becomes a joke. In fairness to Nanaya the post was written some time ago, and maybe by now she knows more about the campaign. For example, on the issue of Page 3 being removed:
Well, the obvious “what”, to me, would be “what will they replace it with?”. I doubt it’d be especially feminist-friendly, but perhaps that’s also unfair of me.
Surely it could be no worse than what is already there, short of becoming even more pornographic.
Nanaya then goes on to detail the various missteps commentators have made with regards to slut-shaming among other things. Whilst I don’t want to muddy the waters further (and derail my train of though even more than it is already) it seems silly to me to spend most of the post attacking others for separate viewpoints. I believe this to be an ad hominem fallacy, but what do I know? I’m a maths/science person.
As I’ve stated above, I think Page 3 is a massive gateway porn (if I could sound any more square). In this instance, I think her “salt water” analogy is wrong. It’s more like giving someone a glass of salt water every day and then wondering why they prefer salt water to regular.
I also feel that, in part, the point of the petition is totemic: i.e. that by taking down this juggernaut of sexism and objectification we will show people that in the 21st century it is not acceptable to consider women to be disposable and only of any worth if they fit a narrow idea of beauty. That is why other organisations are not named, but very easily could be. In fact I would prefer it if other groups started with the aim of ending the obsession with the looks of others. But, alas, that makes you “sex-negative” and a “prude”. Shame on me.
Personally, I would prefer it, too, if women did not feel the need to go into ‘modelling’ (note the use of quote marks) in order to make a living. Yes, that does mean helping with benefits, a living wage, etc. which perhaps people will not like. But that is a discussion for another time I guess. More interesting to me is this:
If the people you think you’re trying to help want you to piss off, that probably ought to tell you something.
I’m sure a lot of drug addicts would fall into that category. We’ve all been told, then.
My favourite part of the post, though?
I don’t disagree that Page 3 is sexist, and I also don’t disagree with Deborah Orr about the element of nastiness in the Sun’s editorial policies.
So let’s not get rid of it!
Anyway, I now have to run away to bed as I have work in the morning, so apologies for this not being the most clear/coherent post/argument in the world.
Please do respond with any corrections/counter-arguments etc. as I’m always interested in ways I could be enlightened or whatever.