MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Tue 04-Mar-14 16:19:47

Guest post: Page 3 versus breast cancer - a cynical ploy?

Today, The Sun launched their Page 3 versus breast cancer campaign - aimed at encouraging women to check their breasts more regularly.

The call to "check 'em" was accompanied by an image of "the most famous boobs in Britain". In this guest post, MN blogger Glosswitch questions the motives of Sun Editor David Dinsmore, and argues that raising awareness of breast cancer by parading 'perfect' boobs is misguided at best.

What do you think of The Sun's campaign? Do read the post and add your thoughts on the thread below.

Lead photo
Glosswitch

Glosswatch

Posted on

Tue 04-Mar-14 16:19:47

(65 comments)

Page 3 versus breast cancer - a ploy to silence the critics?

Where do you stand on No More Page 3? Think carefully before you answer. If you are against boobs as news, there's always the chance that you're just against boobs. And if you're against boobs, you probably don't care about breast cancer sufferers. That, at least, seems to be the message conveyed by the front page of today's Sun.

Page 3 V. Breast Cancer screams the headline, accompanied a photo of the owner of “the most famous boobs in Britain”.

The contrast couldn't be clearer. All of you who've been supporting No More Page 3? Turns out you were on Team Breast Cancer all along! Unlike NMP3, the Sun likes breasts. It is breast positive! And while such positivity may reduce women to silent objects of the male gaze, it's better than making them desperately ill (these are, apparently, the only two options).

While I support the objectives of Coppafeel!, the charity involved in the Sun’s campaign, I have to say I'm wary of the Sun's motives. According to editor David Dinsmore “we thought we could do some real good with Page 3.”

The juxtaposition of “perfect” breasts – tits for the lads - sits uneasily alongside the need to recalibrate our ideas of beauty, strength and womanhood in the aftermath of illness. The impression I get is not that the Sun is working on behalf of breast cancer sufferers, but that their
suffering has been co-opted by Dinsmore in an attempt to silence critics of his own paper.

Many of the responses I have seen are, however, less than positive. The juxtaposition of “perfect” breasts – tits for the lads - sits uneasily alongside the need to recalibrate our ideas of beauty, strength and womanhood in the aftermath of illness. The impression I get is not that the Sun is working on behalf of breast cancer sufferers, but that their suffering has been co-opted by Dinsmore in an attempt to silence critics of his own paper.

This isn't the first time that breast cancer campaigning has made women feel uneasy. The "pinkification" of all things breast cancer-related hasn't always chimed well with those most in need of support.

Crass gender stereotyping is not always the most effective way to restore self-esteem. Ultimately, what is presented as a confidence boost can feel more like emotional blackmail. So you don’t want to focus on plump, pert tits when you’re recovering from your double mastectomy? Find the cutesy, girly merchandise nauseating? Well, maybe you’re just not feminine enough! Try harder! You should be grateful we’re still giving you the chance!

There can be a cruelty behind all this. Just when you need to be reminded that your identity is not contingent on superficial ideas of femininity, you are being asked to buy into the very stereotypes which threaten to exclude you. It comes across as a form of penance: hyper-girlify your illness and we’ll forgive you for failing to maintain the so-called “ideal” female form. Celebrate the “perfect” bodies of other women and we won't assume that sickness has made you bitter.

If The Sun’s collaboration with Coppafeel! does encourage more young women to check their breasts, there is a chance that it will save lives. On that score alone, I would say that it is worth any offence caused. Of course, in an ideal world cancer would not be used to defend sexist wank- fodder, but this is not that world. Charities need to grab what attention they can and one Sun front page will reach more people than a thousand leaflets could.

But the manipulation remains, as does the fact that this could have been done differently. Boobs are not news, breast cancer affects men, too, and looking after our health shouldn't be something we do only in response to titillation, objectification and body shaming. A culture which encouraged people to love their bodies, whatever their shape or size, wouldn't depend on “the most famous boobs in Britain” to persuade individuals to take care of their own.

By Glosswitch

Twitter: @Glosswitch

ummlilia Tue 04-Mar-14 16:53:10

I have seen a petition circulating on facebook today about this.. goo.gl/zANjYg

emcwill74 Tue 04-Mar-14 16:54:19

Until we have Wobble 'em Wednesday, where the Sun has a bloke on the front page cupping his scrotum in order to raise awareness of testicular cancer and the importance of checking for that, I cannot see this as anything more than a cynical excuse to get more naked female flesh on the front page to shift papers, and stick 2 fingers up at the No More Page 3 campaign. 'Don't like Page 3?' The Sun asks us, 'then you must be pro-breast cancer now!'

Stenduffy Tue 04-Mar-14 17:24:58

The Sun has slumped to an all time low. And I didn't think that possible.

Rooners Tue 04-Mar-14 17:28:04

Yes I can't imagine them putting a photo of someone who has had a mastectomy on page 3. If they did it would be met with disgust and derision by the largely uneducated readership of course.

What a load of (sorry) bollocks.

iklboo Tue 04-Mar-14 17:34:06

Since breast cancer can strike at any age and men as well as women I'm waiting for them to print a photo of a 70 year old bloke checking himself.

meditrina Tue 04-Mar-14 17:34:22

Check'em Lads is a testicular cancer charity and support group.

I am cross that The Sun has ripped off a charity's strap line.

ballsballsballs Tue 04-Mar-14 17:47:51

It's a cynical excuse to put a bare breasted woman on the front page.

And don't get me started on breast cancer being the only cancer worth curing...

BinkysMom Tue 04-Mar-14 17:51:53

I was shocked when I saw the display at my local Asda. Using breastcancer in this way in an attempt to salvage their page 3 is beyond offensive. I have friends who've lost their breasts to cancer. Page 3 has always made them feel like less of a woman by only celebrating women's breasts and nothing else.

StephanieDA Tue 04-Mar-14 17:52:13

The Sun really don't care about that other 80% of women who get BC do they? Is it because those women are over 50 and their breasts are no longer worth saving? Or is it because the Sun don't even realise that women who are not young, slim and sexy with large pert breasts actually exist? Otherwise, they would never do something so crass and insensitive would they.

ITCouldBeWorse Tue 04-Mar-14 18:00:38

Utterly pathetic. If they were showing some post mastectomy patients regaining their health and confidence, they might just about have a point.

Surely if David dinsmore gave a shit about checking for cancer he would be backing a campaign to get men to check themselves or a prostate cancer awareness campaign as his key demographic is men?

This just smacks of let's shut the little wimmen up when they complain about us objectifying women.

Givemecaffeine Tue 04-Mar-14 18:51:50

Excellent post. I have lost two close family members to breast cancer before they were 35, and I find the cover of the Sun profoundly offensive. I guess the only thing to be optimistic about is that it smacks of desperation, which means the No More Page 3 campaign must be having an effect.

kim147 Tue 04-Mar-14 19:06:51

There are so many cancers they could have chosen. Why not testicular cancer? That kills young men who are probably a large part of their readership.

But would he put a picture of a hunky naked man holding his balls on the front page?

Alljazzdup Tue 04-Mar-14 19:08:58

I am a breast cancer survivor. I have had a mastectomy. I am absolutely spitting feathers at this disgusting attempt by the Sun to justify the soft porn they offer up to the nation on a daily basis. Seriously what the hell has a sexed up picture of a topless model got to do with this devastating disease? How many of their so called target audience will read this? How many male Sun readers will just find it an excuse to ogle yet another pair of tits in public? Disgusting doesn't even cover it!!!

Darkesteyes Tue 04-Mar-14 21:09:35

I never got to meet my biological mother in law. She died of breast cancer in early May 1973...six weeks before i was born. She was only 46.
DH told me she was one of the first people in this country to undergo the reconstruction procedure.

What the Sun have done in disgusting. Its thanks to Page 3 and their ilk that women who have had to undergo treatments and have mastectomies are made to feel less of a woman.
I also saw a rather disturbing survey last year that said some patients were choosing not to complete their treatments due to fear of weight gain.
Just another way in which this "campaign" will not help.

Darkesteyes Tue 04-Mar-14 21:10:49

Sorry That should read DHs bio mum.

RandomMess Tue 04-Mar-14 21:13:22

I actually felt sickened when I saw it at the supermarket earlier, not sure why but probably all of the reasons quoted above - just some excuse to have a page 3 feature on the front page sad

SpinningFates Tue 04-Mar-14 21:56:36

Does being "breast aware" actually reduce mortality rates? Is there any evidence?

Creeping Tue 04-Mar-14 22:06:31

I think the association that especially young, pert, Page-3 girl breasts should be saved from breast cancer is lurking large with this campaign. Because we wouldn't want the guys having to go without, do we? It infuriates me.

weebarra Tue 04-Mar-14 22:06:31

Fuck that. I'm 36. I'm currently undergoing chemo and will have a bilateral mx in may. I have 3 children, 6,3 & 6 months. I also consider myself to be a feminist. I think what the sun is doing is nonsense. Breasts are great and useful things. They do not belong in a daily newspaper.

Creeping Tue 04-Mar-14 22:11:17

Plus my first thought when I saw the headlines was that "Check 'm Tuesdays" were an invitation for the lads to check breasts. Even the name of the charity "Coppafeel" is very unfortunate when it's associated with a display of seemingly willing half naked ladies.

I wonder how many girls will have to hear this slogan on Tuesday.

janmoomoo Tue 04-Mar-14 22:19:43

Couldn't avoid seeing this on the train this morning. Anyone who says if you don't like page 3 don't buy the Sun can forget it - you can't avoid it when it is on the front page and bloke next to you on the train is reading it.

This is blatantly using a truly worthwhile cause to justify their outdated, sexist and misplaced page 3 which should have been abandoned in the 70s.

Ever wondered why women with breast cancer/mastectomys feel so devastated and unfeminine? Could it be the perpetuation of the myth of the "perfect" body shape, promoted by the Murdoch press?

NiceTabard Tue 04-Mar-14 22:21:31

I was ranting on the other thread.

So much wrong with this.

I would have thought a campaign around testicular or prostate cancer would be much more effective, for lots of reasons.

Do they honestly think that women under 35 are the main consumers of page 3? That's just ridiculous. If they want to target breast cancer, then they need to do it with something that the target audience are very interested in. Hence, a male cancer teamed with page 3 would have been a better match.

Also, and as Creeping mentions. Coppafeel are I'm sure a great charity, who I imagine are advocating women checking their own breasts? The juxtaposition of Page 3 with the slogan "Cop a feel" is likely to result in a bad time for lots of young women. I can imagine it being used to legitimise causal assault "don't get upset love just checking you for cancer" and so on.

It's a really unfortunate combination. And it's targeted at young men (as they are the ones who look at page 3).

The whole thing is just awful.

kim147 Tue 04-Mar-14 22:21:46

I wonder if anyone at the Sun office actually said "You know what, this might be a bad idea. " And then suggested why it might come across as incredibly insensitive.

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