I’m not sure what I’m crosser about. The fact that The Sun tricked us, or that it was only revealed that they had tricked us right after I had written a column praising them. Of course I was cross; I had used the very witty line “Lorks! No More Norks!” and then had to delete it.
Call me cynical, but when I heard that there was to be no more Page 3, I picked up The Sun and turned to page 4. I thought surely that haemmeroid-faced old Aussie wouldn’t bow to pressure from a feminist campaign, surely he’d think outside the box, and simply move his girls to another page, just to stick a massive antipodean finger up the tight behinds of the ‘sexless humourless braless glamourless men-haters’ who had been making a complete and utter fuss about nothing. But no tits were to be found.
To gauge the sitch from the horse’s mouth I read a few of Murdoch’s tweets, which almost without exception read like he’d typed them on a bed with a gaggle of giggling bikini-clad girls bouncing around him. A load of barely literate mumbo jumbo. Nothing massively illuminating about his plans. The tweets have since been deleted.
I then read some of the tweets of former Page 3 models.
Former topless model turned bodybuilder and personality Jodie Marsh said “So called feminists really annoy me. Telling girls they shouldn’t do page 3 is NOT being a feminist; women should do WHATEVER they want!!”
And former topless model turned tv regular and devoted mum Nicola McLean said “I don’t think it is outdated. I think the girls still look fantastic on the page, they still clearly enjoy what they are doing, people still want to see it.”
Presumably they are now credited as being ‘former’ Page 3 models because they seldom get their actual bangers out anymore. Because they don’t have to. They have other work, that fulfils them more as women.
(Further note: They have either opted not to do it anymore or they have been moved on to other pastures because they’re not in their twenties anymore. Another strand of the same problem.)
Also, they are rather missing the main point.
‘No More Page 3’ is not about Page 3 girls (and their girls), their female rights to bare whatever they like, or how good they look. It is about bigger things than Kaylee from Hull’s 32DDs.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with making your money in glamour modelling. We all get our kicks from different things. That’s fine; erotic images are a natural and vital part of our highly sexualised race. I would also like to state that I ruddy love boobs. (They are marvellous, aren’t they?) So it’s wrong for models to claim all nay-saying women are jealous of them or that feminists who want to see the end of Page 3 are the dreary ball-breaking kind of feminists who’ve never had a good fuck. I am glad the female form is a beautiful thing. I think women are beautiful. I admire women who are in far finer form than me and a million others and do not feel jealousy, but can objectively appreciate their shape, just as I can look at a curvy girl down the pub and think her non Page 3 friendly extras are just as gorgeous.
But boobs must be contextualised properly; bare boobs don’t belong in the national press for people with working retinas of all ages and beliefs to be able to see everywhere every day. Placing affable topless women next to ‘the news’ sends out messages to sharp, bright, and savvy people, as much as it does to vulnerable, naive, and downright stupid people. The message that women are fleshy commodities and not people with opinions or a better place within the news itself cannot fail to sink in slowly over time (and they’ve had since 1970. A pretty decent run.) And vice versa, that front page news is as to be read as trivially as the nip-perk butt-thrust of someone who was born after Thatcher resigned. That surely must be just as damaging.
The Page 3 models don’t need protecting. That is not the point of the No More Page 3 campaign. It is not about the girls, or their boobs, or their slimness, or their jobs, or their personalities, or their choices, or their love lives with footballers. We are not judging them or patronising them or trying to ruin their fun. We just want them to find another mantelpiece for their jugs. It’s not enough to say “if you don’t want to see it, don’t look.” We all know it’s bloody there.
Because the damage isn’t being done to the poor defenceless models ‘being objectified’. By the time they reach the heady heights of Page 3 they are being well-paid for their liberality; well protected, photographed well, and protected by the watertight contracts drawn up by lawyers and the top notch studio conditions bankrolled by the biggest news group in the world. They no doubt encounter very little bother as women during their working day. They are in control. If only that could be said of all the lower rankers working their way up the sticky rungs of wank mags and wider modelling, being goosed and groped, forced into uncomfortable situations, demeaned in reductive images, made to feel like they cannot speak up for themselves if they want to progress in their chosen career (which might be less of a choice than they think). By the time you’ve made Page 3, you’re alright. You’ve paid your dues, stand a good chance of moving on to other well-paid work that doesn’t involved standing on a pier in November in little white panties, and you are reaping the rewards of the more demeaning work by being allowed a little star next to your minge with your name, age, place of birth, and if you’re very lucky a funny little quote – which was very kindly written for you, probably by a man (because they’re so funny and clever aren’t they?).
It is the women who see these boobs in every shop that sells milk and might perceive baring breasts as the height of our value who need to be protected.
It is the women who feel sad about their own bodies every minute of every day, and unempowered in their environment, and uninspired by their opportunities, and doubtful of their potential, who feel all these things most when they pop up the road for some gum.
The girls who every day stare at their own breasts and wonder why they are not perfect, who will stare at the homogenised form of the slim-waisted full-breasted girls on Page 3 and base their whole sense of ideal proportion around it, who will pinch their waists and punch their fat and hate their hair and faces. Who will read the chirpy expressions of these amenable girls in knickers and maybe take a little of that pressure into the bedroom. Whose sexual encounters might be tinged by them thinking they have to please and not make a fuss. That what men want is what’s on that famous page and that if you are not that then the men are merely settling. You are something to be settled for. You are real and not being plucked from the crowd to be a model and that is not as good.
Also to be protected are the men and boys who form unrealistic expectations of women, who could be forgiven for forming worrying generalisations about girls and sex and relationships. The men and boys who might even see these promoted pictures of perfection and begin a sexual identity that is based on insecurity that they will never attain or satisfy any woman, let alone those that our popular culture deems to be beautiful.
It is the future boyfriends who should know how to make ordinary girls feel extraordinary,
the future husbands who should know how to make women feel loved,
the future colleagues who should know how to make women feel valued and equal,
the future bosses who should know how to help steer a woman to her fullest potential,
the future fathers who should know how to tell their sons and daughters that they are beautiful and deserve the world and can do anything.
They’re the people who should be protected by a bit of thoughtful, responsible, kind, logical, modernised media placing, and The Sun’s recent up yours has made it seem like we’re further away from achieving it than we thought. It’s bad enough women have been treated as tits, but now it feels like we’ve been treated like cunts too.