Last week, the subject of an explosive Newsnight (I promise I don’t watch that all the time!) was the apparent removal of topless Page 3 models from The Sun, only for the feature to be reinstated just days later. This sparked outrage from feminist campaigners who believe that the feature is dated and degrades and objectifies women. Sounds fair enough, right?
I’ve never really had a problem with Page 3. I think it’s a choice of those women to do that and it’s a long standing rather innocent feature in what is a popular UK newspaper. I understand that the connotations of it could be understood to be a view of women which is far from desirable – women portrayed simply as sex objects and nothing more. Of course that makes sense.
However reading a few articles and listening to the arguments put forward by campaigners on Newsnight, I couldn’t help thinking that they were a little misguided, narrow minded and quite mistaken that in thinking that scrapping Page 3 would have as large effect as they are saying it will on the way women and young girls see themselves. What about everything else? Was my honest opinion.
You’ll know from reading this blog that I am keen to highlight the fact that the media plays a huge part in how we view ourselves as people. Part of that is Page 3, of course, but that’s really quite an insignificant part when you look at the whole picture. Almost every single image we see is photo-shopped. Every single image is of somebody who is deemed by society to be ‘beautiful’. Celebrity culture has created a raft of youngsters who equate success with fame. And despite this, certain women are standing up and saying that it is Page 3 which is predominantly responsible for women not becoming rocket scientists? More likely that it may make women with small breasts feel inadequate – but then if we’re going down that route then why not name and shame every celebrity magazine which features women with large breasts, every TV show, every
My point here is that we, and our children, are exposed to this sort of damaging media every day, all day. The Sun and see Page 3, I feel, are a very small part of that. I was sad to see MPs and ministers falling over themselves to take a shot at The Sun for reinstating Page 3, yet not addressing more dangerous forms of such as all the fad diet adverts we are subjected to, celebrity fitness DVDs, dubious diet advice and pro-ana websites. (I shudder just saying that word). There’s no uproar over the models in the huge amount of Victoria’s Secret adverts which young girls aspire to emulate (they might not have their tits out but they’re still in lingerie) – at least Page 3 girls are realistic.
Which brings me on nicely to this: I actually have something positive to say about Page 3. And that is that the girls used are always voluptuous. Granted, this may be a surgically-enhanced curviness, however that’s never the focus (if you get what I mean!). The whole ethos of Page 3 is the ‘girl next door’, ‘pretty yet attainable’ and of course, big-breasted ideal. A lot of Page 3 models I see are naturally curvy girls. They have stomachs and thighs and yes, they’re photo-shopped in many of their portfolio photos but you can still tell that they are natural, beautiful women. Women who, like all of us, have choices and are free to choose what they want to do with their lives, women who are lucky enough to be recognised as beautiful and have curves and exploit those financially. If you were going to slam them for making other women feel bad, then you’d have to concentrate your anger equally to all models, all ‘beautiful’ women in the public eye, all retailers, all advertisers, and so on. I can’t say that what these girls are doing is as damaging as the Victoria’s Secret models, I can’t say that I really think all this time and effort that ministers are putting in to squashing Page 3 is warranted, nor do I think it’s the best use of their time.
What would I like to see? I’d like to see the female MPs, ministers and campaigners who are spending so much time talking negatively about The Sun and its effect on women actually spend that time changing the media and making positive steps to help all women to feel good about themselves. I don’t think this is a feminist issue – women know that we can be who we want to be and in honesty we’re all fried trying to do it all and be it all! I think if this is to be an issue at all, it is one which needs to be addressed across the board, and not just aimed solely at The Sun.
What are your opinions on this? Do you think Page 3 really is an isolated case of degradation and objectification? Or can more be done across the board to help women feel better about themselves rather than a confusing offensive of ‘feminism’ and ‘empowerment’?