Ban Page 3, Lord Leveson, and put an end to upskirt shots, media sexism and discrimination

The CEO of OBJECT makes the case for regulation to curb sexism in the press

Share

Women make up half of the population, and if we care about ending discrimination and violence against women and girls, then we must reject the reduction of women to sex objects, and challenge the rape myths and victim-blaming attitudes too often peddled in our national newspapers. We will not achieve equality whilst we are either made invisible, or are trivialised, objectified, and vilified on the basis of what we look like, and if crimes against women and girls are not taken seriously in their reporting.

Sexism in the British press is endemic. That was the finding of a report launched this week by OBJECT, Eaves, End Violence Against Women Coalition, and Equality Now. The joint report examined 11 newspapers over a two week period in September 2012. It found alarming levels of: inaccurate and victim-blaming attitudes in the reporting of violence against women; persistent objectification and sexualisation of women based on sexist, racist and ageist stereotypes, including Page 3 images, up-skirt photography and explicit advertisements for the sex industry; and examples of women in public life being subjected to ridicule and humiliation on the basis of their appearance. All of which were unparalleled for men.

This portrayal of women is not an issue of “taste and decency”, it is a form of discrimination. This discrimination has direct implications for women’s participation in the public sphere, and for issues related to self-esteem. It has implications, too, for male attitudes about inequality and violence against women and girls.

The need for guidelines and restrictions to address media sexism is clear. Such guidelines would ensure that images so degrading that they had to be censored by the Leveson Inquiry when submitted as evidence, and which were removed from Facebook are no longer contained in mainstream tabloids sold on the bottom shelf of newsagents without age restriction. And ensure that parts of the press no longer mis-report rape in a way that the Chief Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, Alison Saunders, described as undermining justice by prejudicing jurors and discouraging victims from coming forward.

The Leveson Inquiry is a historic opportunity for media reform. If we are serious about eliminating discrimination and tackling the attitudes and behaviours associated with violence against women and girls, then it is imperative that we take this opportunity to ensure that the portrayal of women remains on the “Leveson agenda”.

This is not about censorship, it is about establishing a press that serves the public interest and a press that, at the very least, does no harm. This is the press that we deserve.

Anna van Heeswijk is CEO of OBJECT which campaigns against the objectification of women  in the media; www.object.org.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Separate lives: Boston’s streets illustrate the divide between the town’s communities  

Migrants have far more to offer than hard work and wealth creation, yet too many exist in isolation from the rest of society

Emily Dugan
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 40 million copies  

Go Set a Watchman: Harper Lee’s new novel is more than just a literary event

Joseph Charlton
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'