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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.



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


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

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

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

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".

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?

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?

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.

kim147 Sat 08-Mar-14 14:08:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Anybody know anything about this....

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.

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 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!

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!

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.

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!

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

Lovely? Is it really?

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.

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

It should be renamed 'The Scum'.

CaptChaos Wed 05-Mar-14 22:53:51

That's the point though, fallon8. They don't want your battle-scarred tits in The Scum, they want pert, unsullied ones. They have no interest in cancer, breast or otherwise, or they would be backing the Men United, Beating Bowel Cancer, The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Checkemlads type organisations instead, all of which would be more pertinent to their readership. The level of cynicism employed by the hacks at The Scum never ceases to astound me.

Although it's lovely to see that Ged is back, emailing poor page 3 models still and still using his real name.

fallon8 Wed 05-Mar-14 22:28:32

I have been treated for BC five times...what is the problem with the Sun? I regularly whip my top off to display my battle scars...I would quite happily do so for the Sun if the money was right and then it over to my local breast unit....I have no problem at all..a storm in a D cup

Creeping Wed 05-Mar-14 18:10:46

It's a case of does the end justify the means. I don't think it does. Sexism does a lot of damage to women as well. The combination perfect breast - breast cancer awareness is painful and humiliating for women with breast cancer. It also confirms once more that breasts are for sexual tittilation primarily, having an impact on breast feeding rates and the self esteem of women. And perhaps even on breast-checking rates, who knows.

There is no need at all to use Page 3 girls for a breast-cancer awareness campaign by the Sun. A campaign in the Sun without the association with Page 3 might be equally or even more effective in terms of getting women to check themselves, avoiding the negative side effects of humiliation and sexism.

PringleJess Wed 05-Mar-14 15:56:09

I read the article yesterday and it made me check my breasts.

Personally I think that if a newspaper/any media makes women check then it has to be a good thing. (Page 3 itself doesn't really bother me though)

I would welcome similar campaigns on other cancers/conditions

grimbletart Wed 05-Mar-14 13:02:55

Congrats. on the blog. So true and emcwill great blog post you linked to.

So glad Glosswitch has highlighted this. I started a thread on this in FWR yesterday but with hardly any responses on it I wondered if I had miscalculated the mood. sad

My working background gives me an insight into how this "idea" started.

Scene: blokes (mainly) round table in editorial conference….concerns about the growing backlash against page 3….what we need is something to counter this that these silly women (except they wouldn't have used such a polite phrase) will find difficult to criticise…chatter chatter, lots of stupid comments and 'ideas' chucked around..suddenly lightbulb moment..let's do something that show we 'care' ha ha….a breast cancer campaign..that will be hard to really criticise..the best they can do is tut tut as to really hit hard will make them look the baddies in this who care more about banning boobs than about breast cancer…..and whadya know. perfect excuse to show even more tits….cue lots of male back slapping…

Never mind of course that their statement that "millions" don't know about checking their breasts is a patent lie, that the number of breast cancer cases in women in their teens and early 20s (the demographic of page 3 girls) is so uncommon it is almost impossible to measure it on a rate per 100,000 graph, but by contrast the rate of testicular cancer in males is around 50 per 100,000 in late teenagers and 150 per 100,000 in men in their early 20s.

As nearly 60% of Sun readers are men wouldn't a better campaign based on young readers be "trap a testicle" rather than coppafeel? Or if they wanted to appeal to their older demographic then what about "prod a prostate'?

Or as their demographic is nearly 70% social class CDE - the demographic that is most vulnerable to lung cancer - then an anti-smoking campaign - a more deadly cancer than breast cancer - would have the potential to save far more lives.

But of course pictures of testicles, diagrams of prostate examinations or diseased lungs won't pull in the punters like bare tits will it?

The truth is the Sun doesn't give a flying fig about saving women's lives - they are a hypocritical bunch of cynical shysters.

emcwill74 Wed 05-Mar-14 11:42:40

A great blog post on it here

kim147 Wed 05-Mar-14 11:34:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

higgle Wed 05-Mar-14 11:28:02

I can't get excited about this when the breast cancer charities prance about in pink and promote walks with fit healthy women wearing fancy bras. People I know who have had breast cancer find the pink brigade very upsetting.

Asagrandmother Wed 05-Mar-14 11:09:07

I can only agree with earlier. Comments. An all time low for The Sun.

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