A petition calling on the editor of the Sun to withdraw the Page 3 feature has gained more than 13,000 signatures in the last 2 days. I’m supporting this campaign because I strongly believe that a national newspaper showing half clothed women is a significant background note in the cultural melody which stops women from being treated as equal citizens. How am I supposed to convince my daughter that she’s an equal member of society when she sees women portrayed as little more than window dressing for the express entertainment of men?
Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West Mike Crockart agrees. He told me:
I can’t believe that the Page 3 debate is still running. The Sun’s editor needs to listen to people and act to take note of this campaign. In this day and age it’s ridiculous that women are still being objectified like this. Add to this the fact that images of ‘perfect’ women in magazines and papers leads to low self-esteem and unhappiness in a huge number of young women and the case for an end to Page 3 is overwhelming.
I asked former Liberal Democrat Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone what she thought of Page 3 during last night’s webinar. She said that she found it offensive.
If you’re on the Tube and somebody’s reading the Sun and Page 3 is there for all to see, it’s awful. I don’t want my daughter seeing that. I wish people would stop buying the Sun. That’s the real answer.
She went on to talk about what happened in the wake of a Fawcett Society General Election hustings at which she and Harriet Harman jokingly agreed to ban it should they get the chance. The Sun picked up on this, and a few days later, there on page 3 were two half naked girls, Harriet from Peckham, and Lynne from Hornsey.
There are, of course, two sides to every story. Charlotte Henry puts the opposing view over at Digital Politico:
The act of appearing in, purchasing, and looking at Page 3 is conducted by a collection of adults in full knowledge of what they are doing.
Not wanting Page 3 to be censored isn’t itself implicit support for the hyper-sexualisation and objectification of women, and it isn’t support of misogyny (something I have been accused of for sharing my view on this,) and it certainly doesn’t justify rape culture.
It just isn’t very liberal to campaign for the removal of items in a newspaper, just because you dislike them.
Whatever your view, it’s a good thing that the issues around the portrayal and status of women that this campaign raises are being talked about. What do you think?
* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings