No More Page Three? No thanks
Whatever you think about topless pictures in daily newspapers, the feminist campaigns against them send a woeful message.
The No More Page Three campaign has recently gained momentum, with over 100,000 signatories to its petition. It’s true, as the campaigners claim, that ‘boobs aren’t news’, and sure, you may not want your children seeing Page 3. But for campaigners to say that a series of mild, topless pictures encourages violence against women, leads to a ‘society where newspapers are primarily there for men’s sexual pleasure’, and has a ‘negative impact on both the aspirations and self-esteem of women’ is three steps too far.
Firstly, such claims are perpetrating a very low view of the male sex; secondly, they are patronising to women.
I, for one, am indifferent to pictures of topless women in the Sun. I don’t feel less of myself because I don’t have a body like theirs. And I’d like to think many men do realise that not all women ought to look like the women on Page 3 – and respect them for their differences. Personally, I don’t think a newspaper is the place for such pictures, but I absolutely do not want the government to intervene in the editorial decisions of the press based on what could potentially be seen as offensive by a minority of people.
As Professor David Gauntlett has argued, to censor the media based on the fact that Page 3 might have a link to increased sexual violence is like ‘arguing that the solution to the number of road traffic accidents in Britain would be to lock away one famously poor driver from Cornwall; that is, a blinkered approach which tackles a real problem from the wrong end, involves cosmetic rather than relevant changes, and fails to look in any way at the “bigger picture”’.
Thank you for your concern, but not all women are so self-conscious that they are constantly troubled by topless pictures, nor are women merely helpless victims of tabloid editors. Equally, very few men are rapists. You may not like Page 3, but the campaign against Page 3 helps to promote these negative views of men and women. This movement, that poses as feminist, is potentially further degrading. As David Cameron articulated, somewhat limply, this is an area which should be left to consumers to decide, not regulators.
Saira Khan is a student at the University of Oxford and a spiked intern.