I’m in my final year of university now and to my memory the No More Page 3 (NMP3) campaign has been around for my whole time as a student. I hated Page 3 before this campaign, and I hate it just as much now, but my outward support for the NMP3 campaign has definitely waned over the last few years- mainly because I was studying abroad in the U.S for a year (“You put boobs in the newspaper in the U.K?! Awesome!”) but also because I feel pretty strongly that it is so anachronistic and at a fundamental level quite wrong that it will just inevitably disappear as the times change, which is why when I saw that the Facebook page for the campaign had posted a triumphant status saying that the Sun had finally decided to ditch Page 3 I felt a little inward smile of relief that this world may have just become a slightly better and more equal place for women. But also, I’m sad to say, a small tug of disbelief.
And I was right to be sceptical. The campaign Facebook page later followed with confirmation that the Sun had indeed decided to ditch the topless model on Page 3, in favour of one in lingerie. There was a veritable twitter storm of #nomorepage3 hashtags celebrating this ‘success’, but personally I can’t help but think this is a extremely clever editorial move on behalf of the Sun.
Firstly, women (and men, for that matter) in their underwear really are everywhere in the media (in tabloids, on the side of buses, on T.V or, shockingly, when selling underwear) and if the campaign continues to press for the complete removal of Page 3 in light of this recent change to the feature then it will look very hollow and as if the Sun is being unfairly targeted.
Secondly, this move has divided opinions within the campaign, and certainly to me, demonstrates that a lot of support for the campaign came from people with a fundamental objection to nudity and not to the sexualisation of women in national news.
In my (admittedly very brief) involvement with the occupation here on campus, I remember a speaker warning the occupiers not to get caught up in small victories and remain focused on the wider picture.
After years of pressing the NMP3 campaign I understand why it might feel important for the leaders of the campaign to embrace any kind of victory.
It’s true that thinking back to what made me uncomfortable about Page 3 when I was a child it was undeniably the in-your-face nudity – on the train, on the bus or being blown down the street in the wind. But we have to focus on the wider picture.
It seems a little ironic that as the conversation about why it is that women’s naked breasts continue to be a source of shock and shame grows, and #freethenipple gains traction, that the fact that the Sun are no longer printing bare breasts is considered a victory.
It should really go without saying that breasts are natural, normal and can be completely unsexual (such as when being used to feed a baby) and promoting the idea that it is even a ‘step in the right direction’ is suggesting that having ‘em covered up is preferable to having them on show, even when the purpose is still to present a sexually objectifying image of a woman as the largest and most important representation of women in a national newspaper.
Tarn Rodgers Johns