Is this what one calls a progressive society?
So now we have The Sun calling Heather Mills’ nanny ‘mucky‘ because she has had pictures taken of her in her underwear and topless!
“Sara Trumble, 26 – seen proudly posing in undies but who also had TOPLESS snaps taken for a portfolio”
The hypocrisy of this misogynistic newspaper is absolutely astounding. Not only do they label this woman ‘mucky’ for being photographed in this way, but they also put the word ‘topless’ in capitals, as if to emphasise this ‘muckiness’ further and to also suggest that it’s something to be ashamed of.
They also manage to sneak in a topless photo of Heather Mills taken from the soft-porn movie she once appeared in for which they labelled her ‘depraved’. (See previous blog).
Page 3 models:- The Sun is overtly ridiculing you. Please turn your backs on your evil oppressors once and for all!
I was honoured to be invited to a meeting with a group of vibrant young women of the YMCA in Southend on Sea to discuss the ‘Turn Your Back On Page 3’ campaign as part of their ‘What’s The Point?’ project; – a project to raise political awareness in young people, which includes meeting MPs, campaigning, visiting parliament and eventually creating a booklet outlining the agendas of the main parties which is to be distributed in school and colleges.
The group – although open to boys – comprised of 7 very lively and very opinionated girls; Sammy, Helen, Fiona, Abi, Sarah, Simone & Monique, all aged between 20 and 23 and from very different backgrounds, however, like a large proportion of the nation the girls felt disillusioned about politics and wasn’t sure which way to turn in the next general election.
My mother always stressed to me the importance of voting because, in her words, “there was a time when women didn’t have that right, so you mustn’t take it for granted”. But what are you meant to do if none of the parties represent your own values & beliefs? Out of respect for my sisters of the suffragette movement I most certainly would never waste my vote but that doesn’t mean to say that the party I do end up voting for will be the one I believe in and respect. However, political impact doesn’t have to begin and end with your lone vote at election time. You can make your voice heard in other ways and part of my discussion with the girls of the YMCA was to highlight the importance of grassroots activism; that is, action taken by ordinary citizens where-by you raise awareness and build public support in order to influence legislative change. And of which, if it is something an MP feels strongly about, he or she will add support to it. Such is the power of this form of political expression, two very important laws (thanks to Fawcett, Eaves & OBJECT) were recently changed because of it, and the great thing is – anyone can do it!
The Turn Your Back On Page 3 campaign was borne out of the blatant sexist attitudes and behaviour that I was subjected to growing up, which I believe is the direct consequence of our pornified society. Page 3 is at the heart of this degrading, yet accepted culture, and I felt compelled to do something about it. Since starting the campaign I have made friends with, and joined forces with like-minded activists and regularly converse with MPs and visit parliament to debate the questions and issues raised in it.
The girls from the YMCA personally related to this and all told their own stories of how they had been in the past, and are currently affected by sexism. This ranged from being physically attacked by a member of the opposite sex, to succumbing to the pressures of beauty regimes (“you’re not looking after yourself” was a comment made by one of the group’s boyfriend’s if she chose not to wear make-up), to body issues such as feeling insecure about one’s own breasts, which this particular group member linked to seeing Page 3 when she was 11 years old. The same girl also added; “you never see glamour models photographed having one breast larger than the other”, which – of course – most, if not all women actually do have, and that was something I, myself, had actually never thought about.
These young women may not have questioned any of this before as they might have thought of it as ‘normal’, but by the end of the discussion, because of consciousness-raising, they recognised the sexism underpinning their experiences and wanted to do something about it. The talk had, to my delight, fired them up and by the end of it proclamations such as “I’m never buying The Sun again” and “let’s grow our armpit hair for when we get our backs photographed!” were being made! Quite radical statements to be hearing after an hour’s meeting!
Quite simply, this shows the importance of grassroots activism: spreading the word, influencing, empowering and ultimately, progressing and I thank the girls at the YMCA for inspiring me and welcome them aboard the journey for the fight for gender equality.
“Whether you come from a council estate or country estate, we need strong, smart and competent young women to stand up and take the reins”. (Michelle Obama)
A survey by the University of Plymouth, in Devon, and the South West Grid for Learning found 40 per cent of teenagers saw nothing wrong with sending topless pics to their partners.
The Sun reports that experts warned that ‘humiliated’ victims are often taunted or bullied, that these images lead to a desensitisation of young people to issues of intimacy and that the snaps could end up in the hands of paedophiles.
So tell me, The Sun: why is it that you continue to encourage this very same thing every day on Page 3?
“The glamour girl, real name Katie Price, dressed up as a sexy school girl for heat magazine”.
What does it say about a newspaper which deems it ok to sexualise school-girls?
If you use the term ‘sexy school-girl’, you clearly view school-girls as ‘sexy’. But at what age, according to The Sun, does it stop deeming school-girls as ‘sexy’, as children start school around 4-5 years of age?
Come on The Sun, where do we draw the line here? I’m intrigued.
This is simply pandering to, and sexualising paedophilia.
‘Bubbly & Boobs are pulling Britain out of the recession’ according to The Sun’s Steve Hawkes as he proclaims that the numbers at topless dance clubs are back at pre-crunch level.
This frivolous attitude to the sex industry has to stop. This is Britain’s most read newspaper.
This is dangerous.
To be flippant about an industry which systematically oppresses, abuses & degrades women is unacceptable. Stories such as these are perpetuating the idea that buying sexual services from women is just a bit of ‘harmless fun’ – when it is so evidently not. Lap dancing clubs are a breeding ground for sexism, exploitation, harassment, trafficking & prostitution both inside and outside of their premises.
To add insult to this assault, the industry has become celebrated and glamorized within popular culture largely due to the proliferation of pornography in our press & media. Inevitably, so have society’s liberal attitudes towards selling and purchasing women for sex. But as research consistently shows, it’s women who are paying the price.
How many women have to live in fear of violence or be victims of violence before the government starts taking notice?
When I ask how people feel about The Sun’s Page 3, the most common response is: “I don’t really feel anything … if the girls want to do it then that’s up to them?”
If only it were that simple.
If you believe women are now equal in society then you are wrong. Most of the atrocities inflicted upon the female of the gender go unrecognised, unreported and thus, unnoticed. Whether it’s low self-esteem and body image problems, sexual violence, domestic violence, female genital mutilation (the list goes on), women are still not enjoying the most basic of human rights here in the UK and across the globe.
The UN, however, does appear to take the equal rights of women seriously and 30 years ago adopted an international treaty known as CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women); – a global bill of rights for women.
Part of the Convention aims to highlight the negative impact that gender stereotyping has on men and women. This applies directly to pornography because pornography promotes and glamorises an industry that treats and values women as nothing more than submissive sexual objects, to be bought and sold purely for male sexual gratification. This is degrading and dehumanizing and needs to be addressed immediately. There is too much cruelty inflicted upon women and girls every day of their lives to justify any real argument as to whether or not pornography has any place in society at all; – least in our press and popular culture. Wouldn’t time be better spent finding out why women face these injustices, and then asking ourselves the question “is it ok that they do”? I’m sure the response to this would differ hugely from the initial opening question asked.
Our government needs to start taking notice. We need to act and we need to act fast.