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.

Glosswitch

Glosswatch

Posted on: Tue 04-Mar-14 16:19:47

(65 comments )

Lead photo

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

Microbe Thu 06-Mar-14 01:12:39

It should be renamed 'The Scum'.

weebarra Thu 06-Mar-14 07:26:40

Fallon - I'm having my mx next month and fall into the demographic of women the sun are aiming at. Maybe I should offer them my newly deboobed body if they really want to raise bc awareness.

gedhession Thu 06-Mar-14 22:57:51

Lovely? Is it really?

gedhession Thu 06-Mar-14 23:01:07

Well fallon , weebarra , send selfies of you boobs and bums and email them to a few select mags. You just never know your luck!

NumanoidNancy Thu 06-Mar-14 23:55:24

It wouldn't have been so obvious that it was just a cynical two fingers up at the NMP3 campaign if they had actually included a proper guide on what to check for, how to do it etc. They didn't.

emcwill74 Fri 07-Mar-14 08:10:52

There's a picture made by one of the BC charities where they've photoshopped 6 oranges to show what to keep an eye out for: inverted nipples etc that I've posted on my fb page before. The Sun, as far as I know, didn't show that, they just had Rosie with a hand on one of her boobs. How is she helping by doing this? I'm sure she thinks she is and someone on Twitter asked if the models had been thanked for taking part in this great inititiative, but thanked for what? What is Rosie adding? For me this is what exposes the cynicism behind the campaign as just a way of putting tits in the paper and pretending it's for a good cause. I've no reason to doubt Rosie wants to help fight BC and save lives, of course she does, why wouldn't she, but I fail to see how her pics do this in any way!

CaptChaos Fri 07-Mar-14 19:38:51

Dear lord, please don't send in pictures just in case they do take you up on your offer and the resident stalker finds you.

I didn't read the actual article, as I refuse to up The Scum's readership figures, but please tell me that as well as the cynical naked woman pictures, they actually told people how to self examine? Because then I could maybe suspend disbelief for a couple of seconds and try to see that they were actually trying to help?

No? Quel surpris!

terricotta Fri 07-Mar-14 22:53:16

I would like to see something, anything to raise awareness of testicular or prostate cancer. But I never do.

CaptChaos Sat 08-Mar-14 12:15:28

terricotta.... as I mentioned upthread, there is Man United. My DH is involved with them, as is Bill Bailey. Amazed that you haven't found it, if you say you've looked. If that doesn't appeal, why don't you start something for yourself? Men didn't raise awareness of women's cancers, not that breast cancer is a women's cancer, women did, with some stiff opposition from men who wanted tits to be playthings, so why do men think that women should do their awareness raising for them?

You could even get the Scum involved. Given that they want to save women's breasts from cancer, I'm sure they'd be happy to back initiatives to save men's testicles and prostates from it too, I look forward to the pictures for those campaigns on the front page.

gedhession Sat 08-Mar-14 13:37:28
kim147 Sat 08-Mar-14 14:08:04

Why don't you think you see awareness of testicular and prostate cancer?

Awareness needs people to make people aware. It doesn't just happen. Just like breast cancer awareness didn't just happen.

vesuvia Sat 08-Mar-14 14:41:03

terricotta wrote - "I would like to see something, anything to raise awareness of testicular or prostate cancer. But I never do."

That is a very sad indictment of the efforts of all those men's health organisations such as Prostate Cancer UK, Mowvember, Orchid, etc., which spend lots of money advertising their campaigns to improve men's health.

grimbletart Sat 08-Mar-14 15:04:46

People like terracotta who claim never to see awareness campaigns are people who go around with their eyes closed. Also funny that they expect other people to do things. If you (wrongly) feel there are no awareness campaigns about testicular or prostate cancer (obviously never saw the ones I was involved in years ago when I worked within medical research) then why not bloody start one instead of whinging?

CaptChaos Sat 08-Mar-14 15:05:31

How could I forget Movember? Every single male I know growing tashes to raise money and awareness for male cancers. Do you live on the moon, terricotta?

deepcastrato Thu 20-Mar-14 23:31:31

As a man who has lost both testicles, I am glad there are no campaigns where virile looking men hold their balls. It's bad enough struggling with thoughts of being less than a man and coming to terms with having an "empty sack".

dreamin Thu 27-Mar-14 02:12:29

Is The Sun paying you for the advertising you are giving them?

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