‘No more page 3’ campaign gains national advocacy as Aberystwyth joins the boycott

THE ‘NO MORE PAGE 3’ campaign, which advocates boycotting The Sun newspaper until it removes its topless women from its page 3 feature, has been sweeping through universities across the United Kingdom.

boobs arent newsThe ‘No More Page 3’ Facebook page highlights several reasons why they believe that the page should be cut from the paper and urges supporters to sign their petition against it, to which has already received over 125,000 signatories. The webpage denotes that ‘more women would buy and read the paper if it lost the bare breasts. The bare breasts say to a woman “this is a man’s paper”.

The page states ‘it is misogynistic to have bare breasts in a family newspaper’ and that The Sun is ‘conditioning its readers to view women as sex objects’ therefore ‘perpetuating  a belief that women are there for men’s sexual pleasure’. It goes on to say that because the dominant image of a woman in the paper is of one without her clothes on ‘it suggests that women should base their worth on how sexually attractive they are to men’, potentially lowering the self-esteem of young girls and thereby heightening ‘depression, eating disorders, and breast augmentation’ which ‘are all rife amongst young women…’

Over 100 MPs have also signed a letter to the Sun, stating they “cannot remain silent in the presence of a page that limits and misrepresents over half the population”.

News UK hosted a breakfast discussion on the matter on Tuesday (26th). The host of the breakfast, Chief Marketing Officer Katie Vanneck-Smith referred the question asked by the Press Gazette; “how Page Three sits alongside News UK‘s commitments to promote women and tackle sexism” to Rachel Richardson, the editor of The Sun‘s Sunday ‘Fabulous Magazine’. Richardson, who has been dealing with the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign on behalf of The Sun and is assisting with the review of the feature, stated; “It will stay because it’s a pillar of the The Sun. I’ve sat through hours of focus groups and the readers love it.”

“They would feel very different about The Sun if it wasn’t there. But it doesn’t have to be like the Page Three picture that’s here today”, she added, “What we do in the week might change”.

Recently elected Editor of the Sunday edition of The Sun, Victoria Newton, defended Page 3 whilst holding up a topless photo of British icon Kate Moss which featured in Vogue Magazine, stating: “I don’t see why that’s different. If readers still want it, we’d be crazy to change it”. While The Sun did not comment on the banning of its paper, editor David Dinsmore has made it clear that ‘page three stays’, stating that the results of a survey they conducted on the matter last year showed that two thirds of their readership wanted the page to remain.

The Irish edition of The Sun dropped pictures of topless women from its Page 3 this year, replacing them with shots of women in swimwear. Editor Paul Clarkson stated that the decision was made because of “cultural differences” between the United Kingdom and Ireland. He added: “In The Irish Sun we strive to share the qualities that make the newspaper great in print and digital, but we also strive to cater for our own readers’ needs and reflect the cultural differences in Ireland,”. The campaign acknowledged this as a ‘bold move’.

no more page 3This campaign has raised concerns about the advocacy of press censorship and the restriction of students’ rights to choose what they do and don’t read.

One author has stated that his problem with the campaign is that is does not focus on the objectification of women in general, just the objectification of boobs. Author of Plasticdollheads, a blog which writes on issues concerning feminism, wrote: “What is so wrong with breasts anyway? What is so harmful about children seeing them? Do children look and see them as a sexual image? Surely breasts are just a body part, and sexualisation is merely impressioned upon them? I could look at Page 3 and not see it as sexual, you might look and be aroused. The image is the same”.

Writer ‘stavvers’ of the blog, ‘Another angry woman’, highlighted her reasons for not signing the petition and stated:  “To me, No More Page Three feels like a synecdoche for the shortcomings of a particular flavour of liberal, bourgeois feminism. It’s something which is nowhere near enough and popular precisely because it will not rock the boat for those in power. And it’s a compromise I see no point in making.” She goes on to write: “Now, one could say this campaign is a transitional demand in ending the objectification of women.However, that’s ignoring the fact that objectification is itself a symptom; the problem of objectification did not magically spring from nowhere: it is a product of capitalist patriarchy.”

“Sex sells. And to end that, one sort of has to absolutely rip this s**t out at the roots and enact a global revolution, which is a bit of a big ask for liberal feminists. Even on its own terms, getting rid of that single page in a single newspaper won’t exactly do much for ending the objectification of women, because this s**t is absolutely everywhere,” she added.

Aberystwyth has now joined 27 other universities in boycotting the paper, with the recent addition of Kingston University on Tuesday (26th). Jessica Falk, who proposed the motion at Kingston was pleased with its success and said: “More than half of Kingston students are women and I hope that this decision will help them not to succumb to the media pressure to feel defined by their bodies, but to celebrate their academic achievements and countless other talents.” She added: “It’s an important symbolic step towards creating a culture of gender parity at Kingston.”

Aber’s November Students’ Assembly saw the ‘Boobs are not News’ motion, proposed by Bridie Sedgebeer, passed with 26 votes in favour, 10 abstentions, 4 against and 2 deferrals. The motion was to remove The Sun newspaper from the Union until it discards its page 3 content of semi-nude/topless women. The mandate to then take the campaign to the NUS Wales Conference also passed with 22 for, 19 abstentions and 2 against.

Labour assembly member for Mid and West Wales, Rebecca Evans, is a supporter of the campaign and has said: “It is good news that Aberystwyth’s Students’ Union has decided not to sell The Sun until it drops the Page 3 feature. Sexism of any form has no place on a university campus.”