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MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Thu 22-Jan-15 14:45:18

Guest post: 'The Sun has shown how little respect it has for women'

Following the reinstatement of bare breasts on Page 3 after a brief hiatus, MN blogger Victoria Smith (a.k.a Glosswitch) writes that The Sun's stunt will strengthen, rather than strangle, the No More Page 3 campaign

Victoria Smith

Glosswitch

Posted on: Thu 22-Jan-15 14:45:18

(184 comments )

Lead photo

'It's a show of power: The Sun giveth respect, The Sun taketh it away.'

If you were in any doubt that The Sun hates women, doubt no more. Two days ago it allowed its sister paper, The Times, to run a report claiming Page Three would no longer be a feature of the tabloid. Today it mocked all those who had been taken in by it. While such mockery took the form of a media in-joke ("We would like to apologise on behalf of the print and broadcast journalists who have spent the last two days talking and writing about us") it’s clear that the stunt had another, crueller target: all the women who have been campaigning against Page Three, women who had been permitted to think, for just one moment, that their voices mattered.

It is, of course, a show of power. The Sun giveth respect, The Sun taketh it away. It’s reminiscent of the way in which teenage boys taunt girls to hide their own insecurity. He says he loves you, then three days later he’s laughing with his mates, telling you it was all for a dare. It’s a form of cruelty which can leave you feeling humiliated, as though you are to blame for having dared to believe that someone male could have appreciated your human worth. You know that sexism isn't your fault but it still makes you feel like a loser. In a world in which value is determined by the male gaze, it’s so easy to end up feeling worthless.

Until yesterday, there was always that tiny space for doubt. There isn't any more, though. The Sun has made the link between casual objectification and contempt for women absolutely clear.


One of feminism’s biggest challenges remains persuading downhearted women that even the little things matter, if for no other reason than because we matter. While some things – male violence, rape conviction statistics, female poverty rates – are clear and measurable, other things – those that contribute to the drip-drip effect of dehumanisation – are dismissed as either unimportant or not real sexism, anyway. Page 3 has always been one such thing. I'm old enough to remember Clare Short campaigning against it in the 1980s and my main response then was one of embarrassment. Why didn't this woman give it a rest? They’re only breasts! Didn't she know how silly she was making the rest of us look? It took me 30 years to put her campaign – and my own dismissive attitude towards it – into any broader context. Nevertheless, I'm hopeful that young women today won’t need quite so long.

The schoolboy meanness of The Sun’s latest stunt has not gone unnoticed. Indeed, the misogyny that drives it is striking. The message to women is "you might be more than just objects, but that makes treating you like one all the more fun". We’re used to all the excuses regarding Page 3. It’s just a pretty woman. It’s just naked flesh. Are you jealous? Maybe you’re some prude who doesn't like sex. Anyhow, what about FGM? Shouldn't you be campaigning against that? Until yesterday, there was always that tiny space for doubt. There isn't any more, though. The Sun has made the link between casual objectification and contempt for women absolutely clear. The little things do matter after all.

Ultimately what The Sun did this week helps us to join the dots. It sends a radicalising message to women who may not otherwise have cared about such things. Whereas we might have thought casual misogyny could never bleed from the page into real life, we now know better. In many ways, this knowledge is more valuable that the concession we thought we were being offered two days ago. Perhaps, in the long run, we will find ourselves thanking The Sun.

By Victoria Smith

Twitter: @glosswitch

heyday Thu 22-Jan-15 15:37:49

Nothing will ever change until women truly, truly want it to. Too many women are either totally downplaying it and dismissing the degrading affect it has on all women, or are quite gladly being complicant in the degredation of women by gladly posing topless/nude and thus keeping women forever fixed in the role of a plaything for men.

CaptainJamesTKirk Thu 22-Jan-15 15:50:30

I didn't believe they'd scrapped it for a second, but what they have now done is despicable. I couldn't agree with the OP more.

rootypig Thu 22-Jan-15 16:06:29

My grandmother had a book, "Dear Clare [Short], this is how women feel about page 3". She received so much correspondence from women, it was decided to edit and publish. I read it as a girl, and come back to it every so often. It's very powerful, I recommend it.

They are bastards. Never believe that it isn't war, because it is. I hope that this helps some women to see that.

rootypig Thu 22-Jan-15 16:06:52

^^She being Clare Short, not my grandmother grin

PetulaGordino Thu 22-Jan-15 16:10:38

Really heyday? You think the fact that page three continues to exist is the fault of women?

Thanks glosswitch as always flowers

scallopsrgreat Thu 22-Jan-15 16:27:53

Yeah Petula, god forbid we should actually name the problem - men's attitudes towards women. Men's behaviour is what is being minimised and even rewarded. And it isn't by women. It is women standing up to this, wanting their voices to be heard. It is women who are disappointed and upset by this latest shitty move.

Thanks glosswitch for your great articulation flowers.

CaptainJamesTKirk Thu 22-Jan-15 16:32:44

Good god... Can I clarify I agree 100% with the OP Glosswitch and not with Heyday.

And to this They are bastards. Never believe that it isn't war, because it is. I hope that this helps some women to see that. I have always supported this campaign but not in any massive way. I hate it and want it gone, but on the whole have kept relatively quiet about the campaign to get rid of it. No more. I'm furious about their behaviour and will be far more outspoken about it from now on!

AWholeLottaNosy Thu 22-Jan-15 16:36:11

Brilliant post, well articulated. I don't have anything to add but have shared it on FB. It really is a mean trick.

BuffytheReasonableFeminist Thu 22-Jan-15 16:40:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lottapianos Thu 22-Jan-15 16:44:14

Great post and I agree completely that this is a war. Also like the analogy of the teenage boy sniggering with his mates about how he was 'only joking'. What a pathetic bunch of losers The Sun are.

Mengog Thu 22-Jan-15 16:47:23

Just don't buy it. It's a racist, sexist, homophobic paper. Yesterday people were suggesting they might buy The Sun, now page 3 had gone.

I would rather they keep it and have less people taken in by their propaganda.

chockbic Thu 22-Jan-15 16:57:14

The problem is that objectification of women is so mainstream. I don't know how you begin to tackle it.

PetulaGordino Thu 22-Jan-15 17:02:49

Mengog the problem isn't people on this thread buying it, is it?

BeyondDoesBootcamp Thu 22-Jan-15 17:49:06

Hear hear!

Glosswitch, you are one bloody good blogger. Yet another piece by you that eloquently explains my jumple of thoughts.

LikeIcan Thu 22-Jan-15 17:57:52

Hear hear.

I bet they think they're soooooo funny. I hate them more now than I did before, & that's saying something.

namelessposter Thu 22-Jan-15 18:06:36

Well put. Disgraceful conduct.

carlywurly Thu 22-Jan-15 18:06:37

Sickening stuff. Great post, thank you. I've signed and hope many more will too.

StephanieDA Thu 22-Jan-15 18:29:17

Brilliant blog, thank you Glosswitch as always for articulating it so well.

Page 3's message to women has always been 'shut up and get your tits out' and today the Sun has literally used the image as the sexual harrassment that it is, tweeting it to Harriet Harman and various journalists.

The petition has gained over 12,000 new signatures in a few hours. This will only make the campaign stronger.

30somethingm Thu 22-Jan-15 18:43:59

Murdoch is a nasty piece of work - I bet he convinces enough people to vote the Selfservatives back in

PuffinsAreFictitious Thu 22-Jan-15 18:47:50

Well said, as always Glosswitch.

Stupidly, this issue alone has radicalised some of my more 'fun feminist' friends. It basically proves everything we have been saying about how society views women.

The fact that their PR man has seen fit to dance about like and excited 4 year old, sending titty pics to people says everything everyone needs to know about the S*n.

If I see you reading the rag, I am judging you as a human being. My thoughts about you won't be pleasant.

fanjobiscuits Thu 22-Jan-15 18:53:41

This actually makes me feel physically sick.

Lioninthesun Thu 22-Jan-15 18:57:56

What I can't understand is the women who think it is empowering for a late teen to bare all. Somehow the fact it is in a paper meant for news and that children can see some other woman's boobs with their breakfast doesn't bother them. They are wilfully ignorant to it being sexist or downplay it as 'far less than you'd see on the net' and actually think it is freedom of choice!
No matter how much I try to ask "if it is so empowering, why aren't men doing it?" or "Do you not think that girl may loose out at an interview if they google her name and that comes up?" I get told things like "oh no, I've worked with men and they don't think like that at ALL!" Oh really?!?
It is so hard to fight with these people as they are oblivious to the ideas that how women are represented in the media MATTER. All of it, no matter how small. They have been conditioned so well by it that they can't see it, and let's face it, no one wants to be told they have been duped all of their lives. It makes them feel silly and it isn't a popular idea amongst their friends to be "bothered" about boobs on show. So, although these are the people who sometimes I feel would most benefit something like a stop to page 3, sadly I think it has to come from them. I'd love to point to the correlation between the 'working class men' blamed for that catcalling video all over the net a few months ago, and how it apparently showed (according to the articles attached to it) that the majority of cat calling offences were committed by 'working class men' and draw some parallels. Sadly you get the "men will be men" response and "you'll miss it when you are old an no one whistles any more though!". <Bangs head against wall>

ouryve Thu 22-Jan-15 19:29:31

Looks like the editors of The Sun didn't feel that they were being hated quite enough, lately.

They are the ultimate goady fuckers.

MiscellaneousAssortment Thu 22-Jan-15 20:45:43

Wtf. Disgusting sad

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