Ban them? It's all a matter of taste

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The Independent Online
Context is all. Spotty 14-year-old boys sniggering at lewd pictures of nude women is harmless enough. But those same pictures pinned up in a public place make another statement - a challenge, an aggressive proclamation that this is a male supremacy zone.

Clare Short, who twice attempted to get Page Three girls banned by law, never wanted pornography banned. She saw nothing wrong with men quietly indulging in their private masturbatory fantasies. Under the counter was fine, but displaying it on the shelves was not.

Girls they are - pouting, protruding, mindless, malleable, cheeky but willing. If the world were peopled by females such as these, men would have no problem with their shrinking role. These images keep women in their place, as objects designed for men.

There is no conclusive proof that pornography incites men to rape. Most of the evidence we sifted through on the Williams Committee on Obscenity and Film Censorship suggests that rapists sought it out. Although given tortuous evidence to suggest sex crime rose wherever pornography was most available, that correlation never stood up to rigorous scrutiny.

No, the offence is not the existence of pornography, but the triumphalist flaunting of beastly images of women in public places. What could be more public than page three of theSun? It doesn't much matterhow much nipple or crotch is on show. What matters is the culture the pictures promote - a culture of abasing women.

Ban it? It was a bold campaign but doomed, and rightly. Bad taste and ideological affront are hardly sufficient grounds for censorship. Perhaps the Page Three girl will simply become an increasingly bizarre anachronism, the dirty delight of a shrinking band of inadequate, frightened little Sun men.