No More Page 3; The Top 10 Excuses I Have Heard Against Signing It

At the time of writing the No More Page 3 campaign has achieved 81,585 signatures. Speaking as someone who signed it right at the start, I feel incredibly proud of this milestone. It is all because one woman, Lucy Holmes, decided to speak out against an outdated and demeaning section of the media.I am a passionate supporter of this campaign, which I believe has an excellent chance at removing soft porn from a family newspaper, not least because bare breasts have absolutely nothing to do with news!
In order to mark this occasion of surpassing 80,000 signatures I have compiled the top ten most common objections to the petition that I have had said to me over the past months:

10—“What have you got against bare breasts? Are you a prude?”
Answer: I have nothing against breasts! I love breasts! Mine came in rather earlier than all the other girls in my class and, as a bully magnet already, they served as yet another excuse for ridicule, so I hated my boobs for a while. I also had to deal with attention from grown men ogling my underage tits if I dared to wear anything with a neckline lower than my chin. I remember once signing for a parcel at 14 while my parents were out in a top with a scooped neckline and the postman watched me sign my name, slightly bent forward to lean on the pad and then said “That’s a nice top.” I flushed, said thank you and shut the door. Then I went to get changed. Thank you Mr Postman for making 14 year old me just that little bit more awkward and uncomfortable about my burgeoning body. Thank you The Sun for making it seem a-ok for a grown man to assess a 14 year old girl as a pair of tits only and then remark on them.
9—“I support local newsagents and paperboy/girls”
…seriously? Yes, I have seriously seen this excuse more than once! My answer to this one is that it may come as a shock to some people, but there are other newspapers and there are plenty of other things sold in newsagents. In fact, the newspaper as a tangible thing to buy in a shop is fading out of existence. How many of us get our news from the web now? Some papers, such as The Times require paid subscription, others such as The Daily Mail rely on advertising pasted all over their site. The Sun even has a website, and in fact they are very aware of the shift from paper to website as they have taken the time to create a special bonus “page 3” area on their news website. It’s called page 360 because you can swivel the photo of the model all the way around. Isn’t that a lovely thought…
8—“Lack of page three will put the women doing it out of a job”
Answer: Yes it will. They will no longer be able to pose for a national, family run newspaper in nothing but a pair of knickers and a smile. I think we will all survive. It is important to note that the campaign is strictly against The Sun having a page devoted almost entirely to a pair of naked breasts. Whatever the individuals feeling towards Lads Mags, they will not be affected. There will always be someone somewhere willing and indeed eager to slap a photo of a barely dressed young woman in a magazine somewhere.
7—“The women like doing it”
Answer: Good for them. No-one, not one single person I have spoken to who has signed the petition is making a judgment about any one of the models. They are all over eighteen and as such are free to make their own choices and I support them no matter what choices they make. This is not a slur against them; it is a judgment against a family newspaper that chooses to objectify women and girls in this manner. It is that which we are hoping to end.
Answer: Actually, no it isn’t. To those who point out that banning something from a newspaper is censorship, I direct to re-read the petition title. Dominic Mohan: Take The Bare Boobs Out Of The Sun. It is a pretty polite request, asking the editor of the Sun to stop showing soft porn to the nation in a family newspaper. That is all.
5—“There are more important things to be worrying about”
Answer: I hear this one the most. It makes me very downhearted to tell you the truth. For a start, signing takes very little time. Certainly less than a minute. Everyone has time to sign if they want to. Unless of course the person making this excuse is too busy campaigning for equal pay, or against female genital mutilation. Because of course they are, right? If there are so many other gender causes to get behind then these too-busy-to-sign people are surely out there doing just that.
I am also rather affronted by the assumption that I cannot concentrate on more than one cause at a time. Darn that pretty blonde head of mine; I just can’t keep my attention on more than one thing at a time! Of course I can raise awareness and sign petitions and blog and patiently explain the reasons for the millionth time to a nay-sayer for more than one cause.
Finally, suggesting that page 3 is a minor offence against gender issues is naïve and, I’m sorry to say, ignorant. I refer back to my point about the postie “complimenting” me on my “top”. I refer to any woman who has ever been wolf whistled at, had “get yer tits out!” shouted after her, tried to breastfeed in public to tuts and disgusted mutters. In fact, let me just refer you to the Everyday Sexism Project Page 3 is soft-core pornography normalised. It’s as simple as that. In one of the nation’s bestselling newspapers, women are considered little more than a sex toy, a masturbatory aid. While men get to boast about their achievements or hide from their misdemeanors they at least get to do it fully clothed. Page 3, if we succeed in getting it out of newspapers, will symbolise a cultural and societal shift away from the sexism that has blighted us all for so long and might be a crucial step towards a future of genuine gender equality.
4—“Kids see far worse than that these days on the internet.”
Answer: Apparently they do. Certainly they can. The internet is a powerful tool and can easily be used for searching out images and videos of much more hardcore porn with just a little exploration. But does that mean that we should just drop all pretense of innocence from day one? Should I sit down with my almost four year old and explain to her about sex? And not just sex, but pornography? I emphatically think not and I aim to keep porn away from my children for as long as I can, while they are still children. Page 3 makes that harder; while I don’t buy it, other people do and they leave it lying about and read it unabashedly.
3—“Bet you wouldn’t complain if men posed shirtless in the papers, too.”
Answer: Speaking for myself, not really. I’m rather blasé about a shirtless man. And in actual fact, they tried to get women interested in shirtless men in the 1980s, with the Page 7 Fella. This idea ran through the decade, but was abandoned due to lack of interest. Isn’t that telling? And besides, it is plain ridiculous to compare a woman’s breasts to a man’s. They are entirely different. If my husband wants to strip off and walk down the street in the summer with his shirt off, he can. If I choose the same and discard my top and bra I get arrested for public indecency. The only times I’ve exposed my boobs in public were to feed my babies and luckily I never had anyone confront me directly about this. But I know plenty of women who have been made to feel ashamed to bare themselves in public, never mind that quite usually a baby’s head is obscuring anything remotely titillating and in fact they are just using their breasts for their intended purpose. But doesn’t that speak volumes? That a woman choosing to breastfeed should be made to feel ashamed of doing so in public, because breasts have been so sexualised that their biological purpose is forgotten? My poor mother-in-law almost fainted the first time I started breastfeeding my daughter, because in her head breasts were so intrinsically linked with sexy time that having her son’s wife open her bra in her presence freaked her out. (I hasten to add that she quickly got used to it!)
2—“Women’s magazines are far more horrible to other women”
Answer: Yeah, they are. That’s why I don’t buy them. Women’s magazines are hateful, simply hateful towards women. “X is too skinny!”, “X is too fat!”, “X: why I love my curves!”, “X: my diet tips!” For goodness sake, leave women alone! But this preoccupation with body image, with how to look good naked, with how to perfect the best diet is all down to a national insecurity about beauty. Beauty is not an absolute; it is entirely down to opinion. Yet the view of what beauty is has been narrowed so tightly down to this ideal look and Page 3 plays a big part in that.
1—“Just don’t buy it”
Answer: I don’t buy the Sun. Never have, never will. So why do I care about Page 3? Well, because Page 3 affects me whether I buy the damn thing or not. Page 3 is demeaning to all womankind, it objectifies us and reduces us to the sum of our (sexual) parts to be tried and assessed and potential found wanting. I don’t care that I do not look like a Page 3 model. I have huge thighs and droopy boobs and stretchmark’s and cellulite and have never plucked my eyebrows in my life and often don’t bother shaving my legs. I don’t care that I fall waaaaaay outside of the narrow beauty margins. But I want to live in a world where that doesn’t exist. Where beauty is assessed on more than body fat percentage. I don’t want to hear “nice tits!” shouted after women. I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that she is not as important as her brother or that he should judge all women on their physical attributes. Of course as their parent I have a massive amount of responsibility on my shoulders to teach them that the opposite of those things is true. I am by no means trying to shift responsibility onto anyone. But I am asking for a little help along the way. I want to tell my children that the world regards them equally and I want that to be true. It isn’t yet and that is partially the fault of Page 3.

Page 3, if we succeed in getting it out of newspapers, will symbolise a cultural and societal shift away from the sexism that has blighted us all for so long and might be a crucial step towards a future of genuine gender equality.

Discuss (and please, if there is an excuse you know of or are using that I have not addressed, please post it in the comments and I will respond gladly)…

Also, if you haven’t signed it, but want to here is where you need to go:

20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chaskanawi
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 11:30:21

    Thank you for this article. I just wanted to clarify something about No.8 “women will be put out of a job”. Actually, many of the women who pose for page 3 receive little or no money. I’ve known a couple of women who are glamour models and when I asked them why they work for free they say “I’m not in it for the money, I’m in it for the fame”. However, only a tiny minority of the 365 women a year who pose for page 3 achieve even a small amount of fame. Most just end up disillusioned.


    • Charli
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 14:04:18

      Thank you for your comment. That is a very excellent point to bring up. I look forward one day to a shift in society that means that women do not feel that their best chance to achieve “fame” (and more needs to be said about the allure of that fame…what is the fame for? Fame for the sake of fame is not something we should idolise in my opinion) is by shedding their clothes in a newspaper for little to no money.


  2. Dawn
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 11:39:08

    Keep up the good work… you are an amazing women that gives hope to others.


    • Charli
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 14:00:53

      Thank you for your comment. *blush* It is Lucy Holmes who deserves the greatest praise for tackling such a controversial issue. The rest of us are just trying to raise awareness for the cause.


  3. Trumpit
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 12:50:58

    How much i could bet that a lot of women have gone and watche “MAGIC MIKE” at the cinema… Isn’t this the exact thing your talking about but the opposite? You think them women watched that movie for the developing story line…Or to look at men in a sexual way…Hmm


    • Charli
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 13:58:30

      Thank you for your comment. You make a very good point that women like to get their rocks off, too. Unfortunatly your comparison is flawed:
      Magic Mike is a fictional film (based on true story or not) and this is not a campaign to remove nudity from films, where it is appropriate to show to adults, rather than a newspaper where they are supposed to be reporting about news, not showcasing nudity.
      The issue with the campaign is the level of inappropriateness of the naked boobs. As I mentioned, Lads mags are not targeted, being out of the reach of children. A pair of boobs in a family newspaper–one which offer family holidays at a reduced rate and gives away lego in a promotion–is not appropriate.
      A better comparison, though still flawed, is the page 3/page 7 fellas which I did address in the blog post.


  4. Andy Burge
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 13:12:45

    Hi and thanks for such a great article. Like you I signed this very early on and have done a little to help Lucy and the team. We will succeed and your article will help. There are some men who respect women for their intellectual capabilities and support the feminist movement wholeheartedly. I’m one.


    • Charli
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 14:00:24

      Thank you for your comment. It can be hard to know how best to help a cause you believe in and I am happy to have done a little bit to help out. I am always pleased to hear of men supporting this campaign; most I have spoken to get an almost harder time than the female supporters. Thank you for your support!


  5. LizyPulp
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 14:10:17

    Thank you for all your hard work! keep it up, i hope someday things will change for the better as soon as possible, I want my future children to live freely without social pressures, it’s tiring and demotivating whenever I spot page 3 girls, where i work waitressing I constantly see men glued to that page, it makes me feel really uncomfortable in that moment. Keep going!<3


    • Charli
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 14:49:24

      Thank you for your comment. Its just shocking to hear about the amount of women who are stuck at work with men around them reading the Sun or leaving it lying around, open on page 3. We should not have to work in an enviroment where normalised porn is on display and we’re made to feel uncomfortable.


  6. Emily Grenfell
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 14:42:38

    Hi, another interesting point I heard lately – women who have had breast enhancement surgery are statistically more likely to commit suicide than women who have natural breasts. Now doesn’t that just speak volumes.


    • Charli
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 14:50:51

      Thank you for your comment. That’s a worrying statistic. I’m not surprised, though; the pressure to be “perfect”, or societies version of it, can be great and pressure can lead to unbearable suffering.


  7. Izzi
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 18:05:39

    Wow this is a really good article. I am 15 years old and I have signed the No More Page Three petition. Even as a teenager I often feel objectified and me and pretty much all my friends, even the ones who should definitely have no concern over their looks, often talk about insecurities and how we hate our bodies. This is really wrong and I think eveyone is doing a really good job spreading the message that we are more than our bodies. Well don and I hope someday girls will be able to feel happier and more confident. 🙂


    • Charli
      Feb 19, 2013 @ 21:52:48

      Thank you for your comment. I wish I’d had as much sense at 15 to understand the issues women face as a gender, and yet I am also terribly sad that this is the case for you and your friends. We’ll get there one day!


  8. ?
    Feb 20, 2013 @ 01:11:51

    I have a serious question to ask coming from a biologist and psychologist, I am not trying to be difficult, just ask for your honest opinion.
    It may be true that it is bad to treat women as sexual objects. However have you ever stopped to think that:
    1. women actually are “objects” just as men and stones are (we are all made of matter – all humans are) Definition of object: ob·ject /ˈäbjəkt/Noun
    A material thing that can be seen and touched.
    2. Women are “sexual” (just as men are) we have evolved to have sex – we are sexual beings – women have sex, enjoy sex, are attractive to men (and women) and some enjoy showing off this attractiveness.
    So you say you are against “conditioning your readers to view women as sex objects.” but I would say that this conditioning is in fact true isn’t it?
    This is of course assuming that men could ever be conditioned to believe it isn’t true – I think we will find it VERY difficult to convince men that women are not things which are sexy and which they want to have sex with (and vice versa) ….. don’t you? I think no matter what we do to the media – remove all the pictures of any women and men will still find them sexually attractive and see them as something to have sex with – thats not going to go away just because you take away the pictures is it?

    Another point is that you do not want women to be judged by their physical attributes – but that is simply human. Taking down all the pictures will not change that – men will always assess a woman’s attractiveness based on their looks (and of course some other things) – taking the pictures down will not change that.

    In fact what we should be campaigning against is the acceptability of people making other people feel uncomfortable when they walk down the street by shouting things – and here I agree 100%!


    • Charli
      Feb 20, 2013 @ 07:16:10

      Thank you for your comment.

      1. The fact that you use quotation marks around the word “objects” shows to me that you already see the issue with this word describing humans. Yes humans are objects just as tables are objects, but humans are also animate, living creatures, unlike a table so they cannot be defined in the same way. Humans can be seen and touched, but describing them as “material things” is not something I agree with. In fact it is part of the campaign to STOP women from being seen as purely material things. Taking away humans humanity and reducing them to “material things” or “objects” leads to treating fellow humans like dirt.
      Of, relating to, or characteristic of people or human beings.
      A human being, esp. a person as distinguished from an animal or (in science fiction) an alien.

      2. Yes, men and women are sexual beings. We use it for procreation and unlike other animals, we also use it for pleasure. This is not an issue. What is an issue is seeing men and/or women as PURELY sexual objects, merely there for someones viewing pleasure, submissive and available. That is Page 3. It is inappropriate in its location (the family newspaper with no age limit for purchase) and normalises soft porn, but I explained this in my article.

      This is of course assuming that men could ever be conditioned to believe it isn’t true – I think we will find it VERY difficult to convince men that women are not things which are sexy and which they want to have sex with

      This…this is a worrying statement. I have seen it too many times to excuse rapists behaviours under the adage of “they couldn’t help themselves”.

      Humans are objects, but they are human, too, and humans have rights that objects do not.
      Humans are sexual and they are animals, but they are human, too, and therefore ought to know better than to debase and demean half the population.


  9. Stephen Wells
    Feb 20, 2013 @ 08:38:33

    In relation to point 3, it is not the case that you would be arrested for public indecency if you were to walk down the street topless. There is no such offence in English law. Section 66 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 only criminalises the exposure of genitals with intent to cause alarm or distress. The reason women keep their breasts covered as far as I can see is not that there is a law against exposing them, but because men are likely to read such exposure as an invitation to comment or worse. Page 3 is at least in part responsible for that.


    • Charli
      Feb 20, 2013 @ 15:22:03

      Thank you for your comment. I must say I am not aware of a law against female breasts being exposed in public and a quick google proves that there aren’t any. This has actually given me some food for thought as, like you say, it appears that breasts are not legally required to be covered in public. Yet laws have been brought in to protect breastfeeding mothers (already covered by the Sex Discrimination Act) who feed their children in public. I might have to investigate this further and perhaps even write a further article on the matter. Thank you for planting this idea in my head!


  10. Emily
    Feb 20, 2013 @ 20:56:35

    Ha ha, but, the only one you missed was ‘jealous’. My experience on the NMPT FB page tells me, that if at first you can’t win a NMPT supporter round, just ignore the rationality of her points and call her jealous/ ugly/ single/ etc etc. I’ve had this from both men and women who’ve concluded i must just be very bitter. Nothing sexist about that then is there… YAWN.


    • Charli
      Feb 20, 2013 @ 21:26:35

      Thank you for your comment. Oddly enough I’ve not had that directly. I wanted to mention it though and talk about Clare Short and the hateful way she was treated when she tried to bring up Page 3 in Parliament, but I felt bad just touching on what she went through instead of giving her experience the attention it deserves.
      But yes, I have seen the argument of “oh you’re just jealous you don’t look like that” and so on and it’s just utterly ridiculous!


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