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 It is all because one woman, Lucy Holmes, decided to speak out against an outdated and demeaning section of the media.I am a passionate supporter of this campaign, which I believe has an excellent chance at removing soft porn from a family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: