A different take on Page 3
Posted on November 17, 2009
I’m not going to add too much to what’s already been said about the 40th anniversary of the Sun (I was going to put newspaper at the end there, but, well, it’s not one really is it, so I won’t). Suffice to say, I don’t think 40 years of Page 3 sexist demeaning shite is anything worth celebrating or even acknowledging unless it’s in a head in hands “OMFG have we really not moved on from this crap yet!” kind of way. However, I was interested to see Tim Ireland’s take on the issue of Page 3 ‘girls’, and I think his post warrants some attention in the feminist blogosphere rather than just passing us by unnoticed in the more male dominated so-called political blogosphere, or blokosphere. (And a note to whoever’s responsible for the Wikio blog categorisations – feminism is politics, so please please please stop putting feminist blogs under the “general” blog heading)
Anyway, click here to watch Tim’s video, or alternatively you can see it by clicking on my shiny new vodpod widget in the side bar.
And here’s the text of the A4 insert Tim and others would like to see left inside copies of the Scum:
Since 2003, the Page 3 feature in The Sun has carried an item called ‘News in Briefs’ instead of the usual pun-filled caption of days of yore.
Even the title itself is a lie; this ‘news’ item rarely carries news, and instead carries an editorial/opinion (an important distinction to make, especially when dealing with media owner Rupert Murdoch, the father of FOX News).
We are not saying that a young woman with her tits out is not allowed to have an opinion; far from it. We are instead asking, if Page 3 is as ’empowering’ as some people claim, then why aren’t these women allowed to choose which issue(s) they discuss and/or express their own opinion about that when appearing on Page 3?
At present, they are clearly often (if not always) compelled to echo/repeat the opinions of Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Wade, Dominic Mohan, Graham Dudman, or whoever else is calling the shots that day. This is not empowerment; rather, it is exploitation.
We challenge The Sun to allow Page 3 girls to use their paid appearance(s) in that tabloid as a personal/political platform, just as they do for columnists such as Jeremy Clarkson, Jon Gaunt, Lorraine Kelly and Jane Moore.
If there is to be editorial content on Page 3, then it should be clearly labelled as opinion (not news) and it should always be the heartfelt, unprompted opinion of the woman whose name, face and tits are being used to sell the idea. End of.
Any standard less than this exploits these women and cheats the readers.
Now obviously I don’t entirely agree with the approach Tim’s taken, in that personally, as a feminist, I’d prefer to see Page 3 ‘girls’ consigned to history, or failing that, as per the request of this Number 10 petition, I’d like to see the Sun and the Sport, along with Lads Mags like Nuts and Zoo, regulated and put on the top shelves in newsagents along with all the other porn. But just because Tim’s isn’t exactly what I’d regard as being a particularly feminist approach to a now 40 year old problem, that doesn’t mean I also think it’s one that’s entirely without merit, or that I think it should be dismissed out of hand because of its lack of feminist analysis.
Because while Tim obviously omits to mention or even find issue with the sexual exploitation and objectification of women that the Sun and others help to perpetuate, sometimes I think it’s well worth having more than one type of weapon in your arsenal. And that’s exactly what Mr Bloggerheads has come up with here. In the video in particular he’s also raised a very interesting and in my view entirely valid point about the subtle use of pornography (or women’s tits as he prefers to call it), as a tool for propaganda.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, as the saying goes, and if our way isn’t working, or hasn’t got enough popular support to make it entirely effective, then shouldn’t we also be welcoming of other approaches? By which I don’t mean to suggest that feminist activists should abandon our arguments and adopt Tim’s instead, but more that perhaps we should seriously think about using those arguments as well as our own and collaborating more closely with those advocating alternative strategies. If the end result is that the Sun is forced to abandon the Page 3 ‘model’, then surely it’s job well done and congratulations all round?