The Page 3 debate continues - and I'm not done yet

If The Sun wants to be outraged at people disrespecting their Page 3 girls, it would be a good idea for them to have a word with some fans

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I’m going to write an article about The Sun newspaper.

I’m going to try to keep it upbeat.

I’m also going to try to refrain from banging my head upon my keypad whilst whimpering the word, ‘help.’

Wish me luck.

It’s all been going off a bit of late. Rupert Murdoch tweeted that he’s thinking of dropping the Page 3 topless pictures.

Responding to a Twitter user who described Page 3 as "so last century", Murdoch tweeted:

"page three so last century! You maybe right, don't know but considering. Perhaps halfway house with glamorous fashionistas."

Things have been busy for us at No More Page 3. I’ve even been on Mexican telly. Global. Blimey.

And then The Sun decided to drop Page 3 last Friday. It dropped Page 3 and instead showed a huge picture of Reeva Steenkamp in a bikini, on the front cover. She had been killed in horrific circumstances less than 24 hours before. Personally, when I saw the cover, it made me feel sick, a tight retching feeling in the throat, and the realisation that ‘yes, even in death, a woman is just tits and arse and newspaper sales’. It was tweeted to us repeatedly throughout the day, the responses ranging from rage, to the sad ‘I actually don’t know what to say.’ A petition was set up appealing to The Sun for an apology to her family.

Marina Hyde wrote an article about this. She’d been employed by The Sun. She knew how it worked.

"I remember a man from the circulation department giving a presentation to editorial staff on how to maximise sales. ..and if you wanted to ensure the regular, bread-and-butter circulation boosts on which the paper relied, a female celebrity in a bikini was what was needed."

I read the article and thought it was a brilliant. I felt that Marina was experiencing the frustrated passion and outrage that myself and so many other people were feeling that day - it was shared over 8,000 times on Facebook alone. She used this anger and her characteristic sarcasm to write an extremely powerful article.

But then I saw that managing editor of The Sun, Richard Caseby, had written a response to this article.

And now I need that deep breath and the zen pill, and to repeat the mantra ‘keep it upbeat, Lucy.’

He was demanding an apology from The Guardian because Marina Hyde apparently called Page 3 girls ‘downmarket scrubbers’. Now, I, and everyone else I knew who read the article, recognised that she was blatantly employing irony, something she’s widely known for, when she used those words. There was only one complaint made about the article, and it was from, you guessed it, the managing editor of The Sun. Marina Hyde was mocking Murdoch and his ‘glamourous fashionistas’ comment by saying that what he wanted ‘a better class of tit.’ Roy Greenslade put it well:

"Entirely missing the point that Hyde was mocking Murdoch's class condescension, Caseby denounced her for it."

So, The Sun is outraged that The Guardian disrespected Page 3 girls.

God, I really want to do some head banging. Because if The Sun wants to be outraged at people disrespecting their Page 3 girls, it would be a good idea for them to have a word with some Page 3 supporters. I’ve been working on the No More Page 3 campaign for six months now, and I have been shocked at the lack of respect these women receive from the pro Page 3-ers.

One of the lowest moments of the campaign for me was reading this.

"If some dumb slut wants to make money by degrading herself, who cares? It’s not The Sun’s fault that so many low self-esteem women have to get topless to deal with the fact their uncle touched them up as a child…"

That one made me cry, so did the teenager who told me, "if a woman wants to do that and voluntarily risk sexual assault, it’s up to her."

Former Page 3 girl Alex Sim-Wise is not a fan of the campaign, but she writes brilliantly and is very open about the experience of glamour modelling. ‘You’d get a message from a fan and they’d be like "Oh, you’re amazing, I want to wank over you." But if you turn around and say anything negative, they’ll be like, "You’re a bitch, you’re a whore, you only got what you have because you got your tits out."

The lack of respect that some people have for the models has been one of the most surprising and saddening parts of the campaign for me.

Last week a petition to keep Page 3 appeared, possibly because there was no Page 3 girl for one day. When I looked at it I saw someone had put 'wanking material' as a reason for signing. Then I noticed the name of a convicted sex offender under another comment.

Oh, I really wanted to keep this upbeat. But it’s difficult sometimes trying to be chipper, when you really believe that the largest female image in the paper shouldn’t be of a young woman in her pants. 

So, I think I’ll save my little rant about the way News International disrespects the Page 3 models, their readers and the gobsmacking argument they keep peddling out about class for now. And my big rant about how The Sun is in an incredible position to do something amazing here, by changing things for women in this country, and presenting them in an equal, non-objectified way.

That would just be too much ranting in one article.

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