International Women's Day: The week we found out about ‘Keep Calm and Rape A Lot’ t-shirts

Sometimes I find people arguing against the No More Page 3 campaign entertaining, but some things just aren't funny

Share
Related Topics

I have a sense of humour. I do.

An ex boyfriend used to tell me I was ‘quite funny for a girl’. Contrary to popular belief, senses of humour are very common amongst feminist campaigners. (Without them we would all be on our knees tearfully wailing the words, ‘when will society listen to women?’ but that’s another matter.)

Sometimes I even find people arguing against the No More Page 3 campaign entertaining, the chap who wrote ‘tits, tits, I love walking over tits’ made me laugh, for example. There’s nothing like a typo when you’re trying to write wanking. ‘You may as well campaign for people to stop breathing,’ raised a smile too.

Last week I wrote here about The Sun and sexism. I tried to keep it upbeat and I managed it. Just. But this week I’m not sure that’s possible.

You see, I’ve been trying to keep things upbeat, perky and polite for six months since I started the No More Page 3 campaign. But my perky polite dam is perilously close to bursting after a weekend of reporting T-shirts with slogans that say, amongst other things, ‘Keep Calm and Rape A Lot’.  My sense of humour is liable, at any moment, to up it and say ‘Luce, how am I supposed to work under these conditions?’

It’s been quite a week.

First there was ‘We saw your boobs.’ The opening song and dance number at The Oscars ceremony. ‘We saw your boobs’ (‘We’ presumably being ‘men’) listed Hollywood actresses, starting with Meryl Streep, and the movies in which their breasts were revealed, i.e. ‘Jodie Foster in The Accused’ (yes, the film where she was gang raped, hence showed her breasts) Although Scarlett Johanssen was also featured in the song, she hadn’t revealed her breasts in a movie, rather her phone had been hacked and photos stolen and posted online.

It wasn’t funny. There was no rousing verses of ‘We saw your scrotum on our phones, Matt Damon’ Not that that would have been funny. After about the age of eight that sort of thing isn’t really, if at all. As Jane Martinson put it, ‘we all saw the boob’.

Now, some say that the song wasn’t sexist at all, but was in fact a satirical look at the way ‘that in Hollywood, women — even when playing victims of violent crime — are reduced to the sum of their body parts, not the sum of their movie parts.’ That’s probably true but it’s a sad indictment of the culture we live in when we can’t be sure if something that sexist is satirical or not.

Before I go on, we should probably stop and rest here for a moment. This is but base camp. We haven’t really got going yet. I haven’t told you how our most widely read family newspaper, The Sun, reported this. Have some energy drink. You’ll need it.

Now, in case you’re reading this thinking The Sun isn’t a family newspaper,’ I’d best just point out that it’s latest advertisement on television stars a toothless little girl and last week (half term) they gave away free LEGO.

The Sun covered this controversial choice of Oscar song by revealing the ‘nude babes’ from Seth's 'We Saw Your Boobs' Oscars song. ‘Nude babe’ Hilary Swank’s picture showing a cut and bruised breast, post brutal rape in Boys Don’t Cry for which she won an Oscar.

It gets worse. In the same edition as this spread of breasts was pullout section which included a massive LEGO free toys promotion, so that pictures of ‘nude babes’ or actresses showing their breasts whilst depicting rape scenes, could be seen close to pictures of LEGO toys. On the day the ad appeared, Lego issued a statement:

“We know that activities like these are good opportunities for families to get acquainted with our product. Through this promotion we will be able to provide millions of LEGO play experiences to children nationwide through their parents. We listen very carefully to the opinions and input that people share. We will continue to do so as we develop our communication in the future. We will therefore take your thoughts and opinions into consideration when reviewing our promotional activities”.

While LEGO don’t seem to me to care too much, a petition set up by a concerned father appealing to LEGO to stop partnering with The Sun has garnered over 12,000 signatures in a week.  Steve Grout who started the petition says he has received no response from LEGO despite emailing all the email addresses he could find for LEGO UK and Denmark:

‘Zero contact from them. I got more response last year from Waitrose HQ when I complained about out of date butter.’

It’s interesting that LEGO apparently chooses to be so cold regarding this. I’d be surprised if they liked seeing their beloved LEGO brand depicted in this way. It’s interesting but not surprising. I’ve long realised that if people could make money out of helping women achieve real equality we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Editors and staff at The Sun don’t even like the Page 3 content. I’ve spent a fair few hours over the course of this campaign outside News International, where staff going into work at The Sun have told me how they agree with the No More Page 3 campaign. Roy Greenslade has stated how Page 3 ‘has been an embarrassment for several editors and many of the journalists down the years.’

It’s quite hard to stomach all this, isn’t it? Mind you, the fact I find hardest to stomach about The Sun and Page 3, is that when Clare Short stood up and spoke out about these pictures, she had thousands of letters of support. 12 were from women who had Page 3 mentioned to them while they were being raped. Yet The Sun branded her a ‘killjoy’

The editorial team knows that Page 3 is sexist and they don’t want to expose their own children to it. They know that they are bastions of misogynist culture that makes life for many of our daughters a dangerous and uncomfortable place. But they don’t care. Well, perhaps they do care, but just about profit margins, not about women.

There was a moment this weekend when I put my head on my keyboard and just started sobbing. I thought, ‘I’m campaigning because the largest female image in our most widely read family paper is of a woman in her pants and now I’m frantically sending complaints about a T-shirt that says ‘9 out of 10 people enjoy gang rape. How is any of this even possible?’

Oh dear, I so wanted to end on a positive note.

Anyone know any jokes?

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Rohingya migrants in a boat adrift in the Andaman Sea last week  

Burma will regret shutting its eyes to the fate of the Rohingya boat people

Peter Popham
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor