Almost half the population have them, they can be too big, too small or surgically enhanced and for the most part, are seen in private quarters only. That is except for the third page of the nations most popular tabloid, The Sun. We are of course talking about boobs and the notorious Page 3.
Over the past week debate around The Sun’s Page 3 has resurfaced with a vengeance. It began with a momentous tweet from Rupert Murdoch responding to an accusation that Page 3 was out-dated with: “You maybe right, don’t know but considering.” A couple of days later, Reeva Steenkamp had been killed and The Sun announced her death on the front page alongside a full-page bikini shot of the model. Cue widespread furor. And then this Wednesday, the boobs were absent. Despite reaction on Twitter The Sun played down any meaning behind it.
Around 2.5 million people read The Sun everyday, 45 per cent of which are women and none of whom seem to be complaining too loudly. This is a point picked up by Page 3 defenders along with claims that those with a problem are middle-class, Guardian-reading, raging feminists who have never bought The Sun.
The Save Page 3 campaign being pushed by the models on social media at the moment has taken the stance of ‘save our jobs’ and ‘support our girls’. The online campaign has attracted more than 1,400 signatures so far (they’re aiming for 100,000) and a message from the girls reads: “We bring a smile to millions of people’s faces everyday. We boost morale among the troops.”
This is all true. It is also true that this is a career choice for these women who want to model. They’re being paid for something they want to do, so they are not being exploited in that sense.
It’s important that the actions against page 3 are not morphed into personal attacks against the models themselves. It’s an unfortunate consequence that they could lose their job, although the page 3 franchise is an entity in it’s own right (the website is quite separate to the paper) and there’s nothing stopping Murdoch from creating its own self-contained publication.
Because this isn’t a fight against glamour modeling. Elena Cresci is a Cardiff based newspaper journalist and she said: “The problem I have with it is it doesn’t have a place in an allegedly family newspaper.”
If it’s about access and designated spaces for this type of imagery, then where do you draw the line? Men and women are increasingly being sexualised in a culture where the ‘sex sells’ mantra continues to prevail. But it’s the shameless blatancy of page three that riles so many people. It comes down to taste, which has been explored more by male critics. It’s out-dated style was the very response which prompted Murdoch to react.
As Elena points out “It would never happen the other way round.” There are never any half-naked men featured alongside a ‘News In briefs’ with a banal commentary on a news issue with the sole purpose of proving you have some intellectual capacity in spite of your appearance.
This can’t be made into a class issue, or a women’s issue – it doesn’t matter what I think or what the model thinks because neither can speak on behalf of the women of our society and that is who this has an effect on. It infiltrates back into our society and feeds into a culture where it is OK to define and judge a woman by her body and appearance, which is undoubtedly prohibitive. Reducing a woman to a pair of t*ts is damaging for everyone and not a part of British culture we should be proud of. Only time will tell where Murdoch’s “considering” will leave us.