February 11, 2013

can page 3 be re-branded?

I’ve been following the @nomorepage3 campaign for a while now. It’s amazing to see a campaign started on change.org rapidly spiral through the Internet and be endorsed and encouraged by many women I admire.

Before I’d heard of this campaign, page 3 seemed pretty normal to me. I was never pro it, but I didn’t have a burning hatred towards it either because I already had my personal conceptions of what the Sun newspaper was all about: trashy stories, brash statements and mainly just a bunch of crazy headlines (like people marrying their pets) without much substance. I met some guys from the Sun once at my old job and they fitted the stereotype perfectly: beer drinking louts who starting bragging about “choosing the page 3 girls being such hard work” whilst scoffing Walkers crisps. So, I just sighed and accepted it for what it was. To shove some boobs in your face after a few flicks of the paper I thought alright, fine, obviously these so-called journalists don’t really care for sophisticated content, they’ll just go for whatever sells.

After following the passionate campaign fronted by Lucy Anne Holmes I realised what a big deal this really was. It is not really OK, for a highly circulated (apparently family read) newspaper to make people feel uncomfortable when they catch someone perving openly on a pair of giant boobs on a seemingly very young woman. As a kid I remember noticing someone reading the Sun on holiday and when the page blew open one windy day landing on that infamous third page and I locked eyes with the 2D half naked girl and felt instantly awkward. My first thought was shock, but also thought for some reason that it was glamourous – because if you’re in a newspaper that means you’re famous and everyone wants to be famous right?

Wrong – this is not the message you want to give young kids about glamour and aspiration. For a young child to even get a tiny fragment of a thought in their heads that to be cool and glamourous you have to pose naked in a newspaper there’s something seriously wrong. Or to give kids the impression that you must look exactly like that in order to be labelled attractive. I also overheard someone calling Katie Price a successful business woman; “but to get her name out there she had to do a Page 3, you see”. Not exactly the career advice you want to hear so early on. After that I remember being so grossed out and wanted to buy one of those t-shirts that read across the chest “my face is up here”.

What annoys me to date about the page 3 fiasco is that it is down to a few individuals to make the decision whether to get rid of it. A small group of people have the power to stop a lot of young people getting the wrong idea about glamour modelling. They could try and become respected and relevant. In my opinion, if your charming customers are only buying your newspaper just to turn to page 3 then I’m sure they can fill that void by searching for boobs on Google. This is the whole crux of the argument, a very simple one at that: boobs are not news.

rupeesmduc.pngYesterday, Rupert Murdoch sent a tweet back at the @Nomorepage3 group saying who told him page 3 was “so last century”. He responded: “page three so last century! You maybe right, don’t know but considering. Perhaps halfway house with glamorous fashionistas.”

“Glamourous fashionistas?” There’s something really weird about a grown man trying to be hip by now calling glamourous women ‘fashionistas’. I don’t think he quite understands that the campaign is fronted by spirited feminists who want him to stop objectifying women. Full stop. Not turning it into a tacky fashion show on page 3 instead.

Page 3 is so engrained in the media culture that to simply change it to a cheesy fashion shoot each day is not going to cut it either. What makes me angry about his tweet is how he is trying to compromise. It’s as if he’s saying ‘alright, calm down ladies, I’ll remove the boobs, but I still want a glammed up woman poking her bum out, have we met half-way now?” This is the point: that no one really takes it that seriously – the solution here isn’t to try and haggle with the public, it just makes him look like a moron. Proposing a ‘half-way house’ is not going to change a thing: Murdoch back down, accept that it’s out-dated and no one wants to see it.

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