Get your tits out for my son. Actually please don’t.

Image

Last week my nine-year-old son went for a bacon butty in the local café with his Granddad. When he came home and Granddad had left, my son told me how he had flicked through a couple of newspapers that were lying around while Grandad was ordering at the counter and went on to  describe the contents of Page 3 as ‘a girl in a bikini but she had no top on but why?!’ and he embarrassingly confessed to me his discomfort and disbelief as to what she was doing there and whether it was ok for him to see it, and what was it for anyway? and he looked to me for answers. I was lost for words. I am (on a good day) an articulate and intelligent woman and I was stumped as to where to start with this one. My son is still relatively innocent regarding his understanding of reproduction and sex and I wasn’t about to launch into a birds and the bees conversation that covered pornography and self-titillation. Several months ago he made an off-hand comment about women drivers (not sure where he got that one from) that triggered a discussion about sexism and the way that some incredibly ignorant people think women are less capable than men at some things, which for a moment I thought may have served as a useful jumping off point for me to explain the Page 3 issue, but even then I couldn’t really think of how to justify the nakedness without going into territory he is not ready to understand. Besides, Page 3 is not an example of a woman being represented as not doing something as well as a man, it’s an example of a woman not doing anything at all apart from flashing her tits. I suddenly had the eerie feeling that my son was slipping away from the safety of my protective maternal boundaries into a wider culture just waiting to get its hands on him to distort his attitudes to and ideas about women’s worth and sexuality. My son’s first experience of Page 3 was a significant moment as he caught a glimpse of the wider grown-up world where women are represented as something else, something other to what he has learned about women from the array of capable and intelligent women in his life so far. I suddenly became acutely aware that I was raising a little boy that is very soon going to be a man.

After a long pause and some very quick thinking I said something along the lines of: ‘The picture is in there because some people measure women’s worth only by how they look, and not by how they think and what they do.’ He mostly bought this, but then said ‘but that’s not news is it?’ which if course it isn’t. The conversation then petered out into a sour acceptance that sadly the world is a very strange place full of some pretty shitty attitudes. I feel deeply ashamed and angered to live in a society where the objectification of women is considered so acceptable that a little boy can stumble upon it while waiting for his breakfast.

 The No More Page 3 campaign is an important and worthwhile campaign and you should all sign their petition here. I have. Boobs are definitely not news.

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-dinsmore-take-the-bare-boobs-out-of-the-sun-nomorepage3

36 comments

  1. jinkerson

    Everything you say is true and well argued, but it seems that The Sun are not looking to have the debate. I can’t understand why they insist to continuing with Page 3 in the face of so much opposition.

    • Hannah Davies

      Thank you! There are a lot of depressing arguments in its favour, the ‘if you don’t like it don’t buy it’ one being one of my worst. Time for the media to wake up to the impact these types of images can have in daily life and on young and impressionable minds. I live in hope.

    • Michelle Ballard

      I think if they are suggesting things such as, giving up a seat for a pregnant woman is sexist (which is rediculous) then this should perhaps be given some thought as well……

      • Hannah Davies

        As I understand it the NMP3 campaign is focused on achieving the removal pornographic images from daily newspapers and putting them in a place where people can choose to access them if they want to. Not sure what that’s got to do with chairs or pregnant women… but I agree that sexism is a many headed beast and deserves debate on a lot of levels.

      • kirsty

        sorry michael, maybe i misunderstood u, r u saying its ridiculous to give up ur seat for a pregnant woman? or r u being sarcastic? :O

  2. Matt Tempest

    But these women seek this career. They are not “forced” to do it. They want to do it. People pay to see it. So the media don’t portray these women, these women do. Why do you feel that it is your right to say that their career should be stopped because you don’t find the pictures appealing?

    • Hannah Davies

      I am aware that these women are not forced to do anything and I am not suggesting they stop their careers in topless modelling, they all have the right to choose that path if they wish and there are lots of other paid outlets for it other than Page 3. I am not anti-tits in principal, tits are fine in the right place and context. I am saying that it is unacceptable for these images to be part of a daily newspaper. The newspaper provides a platform for un-monitored soft pornographic images that reeks of an over-sexualised and sexist culture that I believe is damaging to all of us.

    • PhD Student

      I think I might dispute the notion that it is *always* a choice. I might also dispute whether it is in fact good for the woman in question to do that kind of modelling. It might seem like a good idea at the time, it might even seem empowering or a way of building confidence with all that attention being thrown at you, but these testimonials from women who have previously been themselves, topless models, point to a far darker side: http://nomorepage3.org/news/comments-from-ex-topless-models/

  3. paulina

    Dear jinkerson,

    If activists were to stop every time there was opposition to much needed change that is long overdue, women wouldn’t be able to vote and we would still have racial segregation…

  4. Tony

    Why not just say that men like to look at female breasts from time to time? Is honesty really that bad? I mean – women ‘coo’ over pictures of semi-naked men without a 2nd thought and do we stand up and declare this to be demeaning to men? No. Why? Because it’s not – often it’s flattering, but mostly it’s just a part of growing up – something unless you’re very unlucky will happen to us all

    • Hannah Davies

      Men like tits, agreed. Is it bad? No, not at all. Is it news? No, not at all. Should they be in a format where children are able to access them? No. Do I think that that the media’s objectification of women is just a necessary part of growing up? No. Is the largest picture of a man in the newspaper one in which he is naked? No. Why? Do I coo? Only at babies.

    • marcia

      you’re right – let’s have 18 to 30 year old boy/men with their cocks out in ALL the papers and in the Beano (why limit it). I mean I’m a normal, heterosexual woman and I like cocks so why shouldn’t I have cocks in my paper? In fact, come to think of it, I feel it’s actually against my human rights not to have a cock on each page of each paper I read. And what about my daughter? How is she ever going to come to terms with current affairs unless she can look at cocks every day and learn that cocks are just a normal, healthy part of the news?

  5. Tony

    I agree it’s not newsworthy, but at the same time we ‘prudish’ Brits have a far worse sex crime rate and teen pregnancy rate than many of our European counterparts who are far more free with this kind of imagery. And why is a semi naked female (or male) objectification? Do you not teach your children that people are not objects in any guise? I did and mine know the difference. The term ‘mountain out of molehill’ comes to mind.

    • Kathy

      They don’t have soft porn sexualised images in newspapers though; it’s the inappropriate context of the image that is the key issue here.

      • Jonathan Cronin

        Page 3 just reduces The Sun’s credibility in all areas. It’s only a ‘newspaper’ if we call it one. Let’s call it a comic book. Or a ‘Lad mag’. Or ‘pornography’. They only have the power that we give them.

    • PhD Student

      There’s a difference between prudish and knowing when something is promoting unsustainable behaviour that discourages social cohesion and leads to inequality and thus hardship forced on a segment of the population. I could argue that british people are far to prudish about violence in relationships. It’s good to smack your partner around on the odd occasion, right? Lots of people do it, so that makes it normal, so that makes it right – right? Wrong. Some people do get off on violence, but I don’t think anyone would argue that from this day forth it should be declared “OK” for anyone that wants to have that in their relationship. So this isn’t a matter of not liking the image. It’s about something that is:

      A) promoting women as objects not people (and thus promoting the people interested in partnering with them to hunt for objects, not real women and treat them as such) and
      B) very firmly something that should be in the realm of sexually matured, consenting adults, yet being on display ready to be flicked through at eye height by the nearest 4 yr old and regularly used to carry out abuse.

      [Incidentally, age 4 was the age at which I first saw Page 3 and I'm definitely not in the minority for being a lot younger than 16 prior to seeing it.]

      Porn really doesn’t have to be bad for society. It’s an instinctive, natural pre-programmed reaction to get sexually aroused by knowing sex is going on, particularly if you have a partner yourself. I’d wager this comes down to actually promoting social cohesion through bonding – one pair bonds, everyone bonds, whole community feels chilled out and friendly afterwards and that rubs off on everyone too – we’re designed to be empathic to the thoughts and feelings of others, so arousal should be no surprise when included in that. But porn as it is today isn’t about real people having real sex that you *ought* to be interested in as adults, it’s about taking that one little instinct and boringly attempting to make money from it in the most monotonous, unimaginative, manufactured way possible, whilst trying to draw children into it as early as possible so that they can become dependent upon it when they become adults.

      You only have to look at the extremes to which (particularly western) society has gone in defining sex appeal – specifically for females. The more child-like a woman appears, sounds and behaves, the more sexy it is supposed she is. Images of women in the media are those of women who have (by whatever means necessary) kept the form and hip-to-chest ratio of that of a girl that has not yet reached full sexual maturity (fully grown women are properly pear-shaped, with hips that are bigger than all else regardless of whether or not their waist slopes inwards, oh and by the way, they’re in their late 20s-30s!).

      We also promote the removal of pubic hair, so called because it only starts growing when we hit *puberty*. Child-like shyness, coyness, begging and pleading, willingness to please… (don’t forget the dependency/being needy and vulnerable, and ease of being bought off with gifts) These are patterns of facial expressions, speech and behaviour widely considered ‘sexy’.

      Page 3 is pretty much a purified version of this – a girl (not a woman) just outside of school age, ready and wanting your sexual interest – that’s the only reason she’s there, and apparently, this is “new”(s)…

      Here’s some insight from ex-topless models on the matter: http://nomorepage3.org/news/comments-from-ex-topless-models/

      And here’s some insight into how it really *does* cause harm: http://page3stories.org/

    • kirsty

      but is there a topless women in a daily feature of a european top selling ‘family’ ‘newspaper’?…no. in fact i might go so far as to say that the messages p3 send out actively encourage these negaives u mentioned. and what we teach our children can be undermined by the media and a society that supports it :(

  6. Tamsin

    Agreed. We Brits are more prudish. The trouble is this means that, in the media, non-sexual nudity is very rare. This undermines your argument: publishing more and more sexual images of women will not make us relaxed Europeans, it will simply widen the gap between sexual expectation and sexual reality, and it is that which leads to unhealthy sexual attitudes which are contributors to sex crime etc. If there were plenty of non-sexual images of naked women in the media, I would not be as interested in this campaign as I am.

    • Hippasus

      Don’t like it, don’t buy it. Still have your child exposed to it in a local business anyway.

      You’re advocating an opt-out approach when there is no opt-out.

    • PhD Student

      I saw Page 3 the first time when I was 4. It was on my grandad’s dining table and he’d forgotten to take it out of the paper before covering the table in it to protect it from my painting antics.

      I saw it again *frequently* when I went around my dad’s workplace. I really liked the guys in the workshop, but looking at those pictures made me very sad. I just new at age 8, I probably wasn’t going to look like. So guys who were nice like they were, probably wouldn’t like me. Right?

      But it was also everywhere I went. I used to catch the bus to a friends house. Often it was left on a chair on the bus or someone on the bus would be reading it ahead of me. Hard *not* to notice nakedness when it’s so rarely visible in day to day life.

      It was on the floor where labourers had been working.

      It was at school where the boys would snigger and point and make snide comments about girls like me when we came walking by. I was told I didn’t qualify as female, based on those standards.

      When I was 14, I took a duck with a broken wing to our newly-appointed park warden (that park was my escape from home for many years previous before they brought in wardens). I went back the next day after school to find out what happened to it. I was an exceptionally bright girl at that age, confident to talk to anyone and everyone. I got talking to the guy. He seemed nice enough. Until I realised he’d got that open on the table and was standing between me and the door. He asked me if I’d ever considered oral sex, and showed me with his tongue what he might do to me. I had learned in the same conversation he has a 2 yr old daughter in Devon.

      When I was 16 turning 17 I went to college. I think there was a period of about 3-6 weeks where due to my friendliness, I had a conversation with every busdriver, unfortunately usually ending in my being propositioned by those bus drivers. The Sun… was pretty much always in view – propped up on the dashboard or against the window. I learned the association well. I also stopped being friendly in general, to any man I didn’t know.

      When I was older and working, bus stops became a scary place. I can’t count the number of time when some bloke has come up to me, usually having just had a good look over Page 3, and asked me if I’d like to have sex with him.

      So. I’d like you to tell me at what point during any of these occasions *I* bought The Sun.

      I didn’t buy it, but it still affected me.

    • kirsty

      steve that is really very rude, not agreeing with u does not make us stupid…it is most definitely NOT that simple…of course people who dont like it dont buy it but that does not stop us from seeing it or being effected by the attitudes that it spews into society through the people who do see it, and the impressionable young people who see it without choosing to either. perhaps we should flip the argument? if u do like it, go pay for it somewhere private and appropriate.

  7. Sarah

    One of my happiest moments as a mum was listening to my daughter and her cousin (aged about five and three) play with her Barbie dolls. As they undressed them one of them said, “Poor Barbie, she’s got no nipples” to which the other replied,”So how is she going to breast feed?”
    Job done! THAT’s what breast are for folks!

  8. Simon Young

    Tony, it’s not just about the sex-crime rates and teenage pregnancy issues in this country. It’s also about the fact of Men believing they own Women, like a piece of something rather than a human, like they can do whatever they want with them. Page3 is the lowest form of pornography and that leads to bigger things. You say we have a low sex-crime rate in this country? Well I’m sorry if I disagree, but I think that 1 in 4 women sexually abused (usually before the age of 16) is a pretty high number. As a grown man, you must know more than 4 women in your life who mean something to you. Mum, Wife, Sister, Aunt, Daughter etc etc. Then there is every chance that at least one if not more of them has suffered some kind of unwanted sexual advance during their lifetime. Now that’s a scary thought.
    Sticking with our National statistics, I also find extremely sad the fact that in the UK, 2 Women are killed EVERY WEEK by a current or ex-partner. These are statistics that are freely obtainable if you can be bothered to look for them, instead of looking at Page3!

    Steve Grout, just bury your head back in the sand. Comments like that are just immature and not worth the effort. Fool.

    I have pledged never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. Violence against women takes on many forms, not just physical. If more men cared enough to take this pledge, we wouldn’t be having this sort of conversation.
    http://www.whiteribbonscotland.org.uk/
    http://www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/

    • Hannah Davies

      It’s essential that men get involved in this debate so it doesn’t remain in the distant realm of ‘women’s issues’. The degradation and mis-representation of women is just as damaging to men. Thanks for the link Simon. :)

  9. Hannah Davies

    Jonathan Cronin -

    ‘Page 3 just reduces The Sun’s credibility in all areas. It’s only a ‘newspaper’ if we call it one. Let’s call it a comic book. Or a ‘Lad mag’. Or ‘pornography’. They only have the power that we give them.’

    It doesn’t matter how you choose to rename The Sun, it will still remain in fact a national newspaper. One which endorses and promotes out of date, institutionalised misogyny. It’s baffling that it still exists in 2013.

  10. Steve Grout

    Young,
    You may not agree with my stance, but I dont know who you think you are in making disgraceful comments, you ignorant troll.

    Feminist men like you are the worst kind.

    Page 3 is not responsible for people uncomfortable in their own bodies and it doesnt contribute to peoples behaviour. If it was to go, there would be no readical change in any of these. If you took your head out of your ass, you might come to realise this.

    Dont address me again.

    • kirsty

      to be fair, i dont think he was anything at all troll like, and u were quite rude to begin with…p3 does contribute to body image and behaviours and attitudes…when it goes, we’ll move on to the next lot of inappropriately public demeaning imagery…it is so important tho because it is so normalized and available.

  11. Steve Grout

    Kirsty
    I wasnt rude. I made short comments that didnt direct any offence to anybody. Young, however was quite offensive to me, and I wasnt standing for it.

    I disagree with your stance on P3. My viewing of it does not effect how I treat anybody, male or female in daily life. Sadly, people will always have body issues, as they would have done before it existed.

  12. Matt Tempest

    This has stemmed from one person looking after a child in a sandwich shop, and as they are ordering, the child has picked up the paper and started to flick through it. The guardian should have been keeping a better eye on the child or perhaps the child should have asked if they could look at the paper, as it definitely wasn’t theirs.

    • Hannah Davies

      Thanks, it’s all so clear now. It was my son’s fault that he stumbled across these images, and mine too for not teaching him better manners, also my father’s for not having eyes in the back of his head. Nothing at all to do with the decisions made by the publication or the wider culture that is saturated with overtly sexual imagery that seeks to undermine and demean women.

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