Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Page 3

From the Guardian

It may seem misjudged to herald the disappearance of the Page 3 girl as a victory when pornography is probably more easily available than at any time in history. Yet this is a fight that will be won skirmish by skirmish, and the fight against Page 3 has been more than a skirmish. It matters because this is not some small elitist publication but Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper. It matters because it was made to matter through the efforts of brave and resolute women like Clare Short and Harriet Harman, campaigning unflinchingly through 40 long years of sneering and jeering to make people see why it is an outrage in a society that purports to believe in equality between the sexes. It matters because – even when it is subsitituted, as the Sun intends, with more images of airbrushed beauty – it is a reminder to girls worrying about the gap between their own body and some version of perfection that there is an alternative view. It matters because it means that it is now generally recognised that pictures objectifying women – even when she is a willing partner in the objectification – are demeaning and damaging to wider society.

To anyone who thought that this was really just about public displays, think again.  This is, to the campaigners, the first step on a road to further censorship and interference. As it happens, I don't think No Page 3 actually won anything. Naked breasts just stopped being any sort of big deal when you can click a button to see them.

But for a supposedly liberal paper to write that paragraph is particularly insidious. Even if you choose to get naked for money, you shouldn't have a right to, because of how it damages others. How is that any different to the way that some Christians talk about how homosexuality damages society, even if two people do it in private?

And what are they saying about women here? That women will be damaged by looking at other women topless? No-one says that this effect occurs on men looking at handsome muscle men, so what's the Guardian suggesting about women? It seems to me that they're saying that women aren't equal to men. Bit sexist, isn't it?

3 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

This is the sort of crap we expect from the Guardian, and we only read it to remind ourselves why we don't read it.

paulc156 said...

It seems pretty clear that Murdoch chose to finish with bare breasted girls on page three because the majority of their readers either don't particularly want them in the paper or at least don't give a monkeys if they aren't there in future. Also a few old dinosaurs who bought the paper specifically for page three have probably kicked the bucket or at least are too old and poor to appeal to the sort of advertisers they hope to encourage. They expect to lose some readers to the Daily Star and don't appear to mind. So it's a business decision. He's probably indifferent, but the campaigning has just made his decision a little easier if anything.

That said, people exercising free choice clearly can and does have societal effects.

"And what are they saying about women here? That women will be damaged by looking at other women topless?"

These sorts of claims are difficult to evaluate but but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence which would suggest that this is indeed the case. There is also some logic to the claim.
'Portraying women as primarily men's playthings or sex objects' in a mass circulation newspaper 6 days a week for a generation might reasonably be expected to influence impressionable teens and pre teens of both sexes who routinely see such images. I don't think they should be outlawed [though some pornography available on line might be better legislated against] but nor can one 'reasonably' argue that such images don't have some harmful effect in the wider population.

Bayard said...

"It seems to me that they're saying that women aren't equal to men."

Well, they may be equal in some respects, but they sure as shit aren't in appearance. Nobody would be interested in a page three man, because men don't have any parts of their body that are only mildly taboo to display. A topless man is "yawn".