Opinion: Clegg’s cock-up over Page 3 – he should sign the “No More Page Three” petition now

In a BBC Radio 5 Live interview last week, Nick Clegg declined to back “the campaign to ban page 3 girls from the Sun,” on the grounds that the state should not dictate the content of newspapers. But the campaign in question- entitled Take the Bare Boobs Out of The Sun but better known by its twitter handle “@NoMorePage3” – ISN’T calling on the government to ban page 3. It is appealing directly to The Sun’s editor Dominic Mohan to stop printing it, on the basis that it simply isn’t appropriate to “show the naked breasts of young women in a widely read ‘family’ newspaper” for the purpose of the reader’s gratification.

Unfortunately, Nick’s comments have been understood by many as meaning that he is opposed to the campaign.

They have caused confusion, consternation and anger, not least because Nick’s comments have been used by The Sun to undermine fellow LibDem MP Lynne Featherstone, who backs the campaign (and who, along with Jo Swinson MP, was responsible for establishing the Body Confidence Campaign.)

Whilst encouraging my twitter followers to tweet Nick about this, and urge him to back the campaign, I’ve met a few counter-arguments based on myths which I feel desperately need to be debunked.

1. The campaign is illiberal. NOT TRUE. In appealing directly to The Sun’s editor, the campaign and its supporters are urging “Britain’s most widely read newspaper [to] stop conditioning your readers to view women as sex objects”; it is not asking for state censorship.

2. This is a ‘nanny state’ campaign for people who think that page 3 models need to be protected. NOT TRUE. The fact is that it is simply inappropriate for so many reasons to “show the naked breasts of young women” for titillation purposes in a newspaper in 2012 – let alone a “widely read ‘family’ newspaper.”

3. Page 3 is about celebrating women’s sexuality. NOT TRUE. Sexuality should not be confused with objectification: treating a person as a commodity, or as an object for use, such as sexual gratification.

4. Page 3 is ‘just a bit of fun’. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. NOT GOOD ENOUGH. The objectification of women is a real problem, the scale of which is now finally coming to light, in part thanks to the everyday sexism project. It has received hundreds of reports of actual sexual abuse. We know that girls are being used as weapons in disputes between rival gangs, and NHS figures show that hospital stays due to eating disorders affect mainly young women, aged 14-16, and are on the rise. Of course, not all the blame can be pinned on one newspaper, but Page 3 is *the* singularly most important symbol of this culture.

The cessation of Page 3 would send a powerful message throughout our society that the objectification of women – of anyone – is ‘not ok’.

Nick Clegg should join fellow LibDem MPs, such as Lynne Featherstone and Tom Brake, and sign the “No More Page Three” petition immediately.

* Daisy Cooper came second in the contest to become Party President in 2014. She is on the party’s Diversity Engagement Group. She is the Parliamentary candidate for St Albans.

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67 Comments

  • Well said Daisy. Page 3 belongs to the past. On another thread in LDV we hear from a rape victim that young people rely on Internet pornography as a guide to sexual relations and young women are under pressure to consider these as ‘normal’.

  • Neil Monnery 16th Oct '12 - 2:51pm

    Why should he follow fellow Lib Dems and sign the petition? Because it is the liberal thing to do or because you think it is the liberal thing to do?

    I don’t recall this being Lib Dem policy so surely NC can decide himself whether he wants to back the petition or not?

    Also if he backed it then he is – by proxy – stating that he wants to attack The Sun but not other media outlets – i.e. Daily Star who also publish pictures of bare chested women. So he is going after one and not the other despite there being no actual difference between the two. I’m pretty sure that would be seized upon.

    This is a non-political issue. He is free to act how he sees fit (as are all our MPs) and to say he has cocked up because he hasn’t backed it is pretty wide of the mark – and harsh to the extreme is it not?

  • The seeming link between Page 3 and sexual abuse at point 4. is going to need expanding if you want to prove a causal relationship.

  • Kat Dadswell 16th Oct '12 - 3:01pm

    I don’t reckon the Daily Star really views itself as a proper newspaper does it? Other media outlets should really be classified – if you want to be a newspaper then don’t have porn in, if you want to be a porn publication then be a porn publication. It’s not to do with banning bare breasts, but just not having them in the public sphere – you wouldn’t be allowed to walk around like that, and you wouldn’t be allowed to put up an advert with bare breasts on it, so why on earth is it OK in a so-called “newspaper”. Breaking News: Breasts Still Exist!

    Of course Nick doesn’t need to sign the petition, but I’d quite like him to and other people would also quite like him to, especially after he appeared to undermine Lynne a bit in his interview. As Daisy says, no one’s making anyone do this – it’s just asking 🙂

  • Kat Dadswell 16th Oct '12 - 3:06pm

    Fair point Andrew, though I don’t think everything Nick comments on has to be taken as “and my government will step in”.

  • “Cleggs cock up over page 3”

    Thanks for the image.

  • Tracy Connell 16th Oct '12 - 3:09pm

    How has Nick Clegg cocked-up? All he has said is that is not for the government to dictate to the press what they can and can’t print. Personally I think that is fair enough from a Deputy Prime Minister.

  • He actually encouraged people who don’t like it to join the campaign. But when asked about the government doing something said it wasn’t the role of government to interfere. As Andrew said the DPM piling in on this would have looked like a clear signal. I find it a bit much to call someone ‘illiberal’ simply because he stated politicians shouldn’t dictate what goes in newspapers.

  • Richard Dean 16th Oct '12 - 3:17pm

    It wouldn’t make any difference at all if Nick signed the petition under this kind of duress. Indeed, it would detract from the credibility of the other signatories. How many have signed voluntarily, because they agree, and how many have been forced to sign, even though they don’t?

  • Neil, it is Lib Dem policy, as of Evan Harris’s amendment to a tackling violence against women motion from Autumn conference 2011. To my mind this is a political issue. It arguably should be a non-governmental issue, but politics is a wider topic than what the government should be doing. He isn’t being asked to act in his capacity as a member of the execute or the legislature, but simply as a prominent politician who leads our party.

    I don’t oppose this campaign, but still I hesitate to support it. My main concern is the conflation of a page 3 model choosing to objectifying herself for money with the real problem of the objectification of all women. A fundamental part of liberalism is fostering a society which treats everyone as an individual. A few women bearing their breasts shouldn’t degrade anyone else by association.

    Also, your definition of objectification as “treating a person as a commodity, or as an object for use” – isn’t this basically what all employers do?

  • The 5 Live interview with Sheila Fogarty went like this:

    Fogarty: “Should Page 3 be scrapped?”
    Clegg: “What, by the state?”
    Fogarty: “Yeah, why not?”

    So Clegg’s answer makes sense given the question. It’s a bit unfair to call it a cock-up.

  • Neil Monnery 16th Oct '12 - 3:51pm

    Duncan: The policy conference voted for was not to ban The Sun from having Page 3 girls but from whether it should be a Top Shelf publication or be banned from being sold before the watershed.

    However your point over whether some women speak for all women is where I stand. If some women choose to objectify themselves for whatever reason then should they not be allowed to because other women are offended? Who speaks for the majority of women? Was there a secret women-only vote where it was decided that certain opinions are the majority and therefore the majority viewpoint is the only valid one?

    Kat: I think the Daily Star would call itself a proper tabloid newspaper. The reason these newspapers choose to run naked ladies is pretty straightforward – money. If it didn’t make them money then they wouldn’t do it. This campaign has a lot of credence but do you (or does anyone) think that the Sun will stop printing page 3 girls if the Daily Star is allowed to continue? Anyone…?

  • When Jeremy Hunt – health secretary – expressed a personal view on abortion he was criticised because, as health secretary, it was argued that he couldn’t really express a personal opinion. The same logic kinda applies to Nick. As deputy PM it is hard for him to call for the editor of the Sun to pull Page 3 without it sounding like a government call. I think he’s entitled to his view and it’s a fair one.

  • Nick Clegg’s entitled to have his own view…

    I personally don’t back the campaign as 1. I think it completely misunderstands and therefore distracts from the real causes of sexism and 2. I like boobs in my news.

  • Alex Matthews 16th Oct '12 - 4:50pm

    So wait? Nick Clegg affirming the very liberal stance that it is not the governments place to dictate what the press print and what we read, is a bad thing because the Sun basically lied about what he said and others decided to believe those lies?

    Clegg has made mistakes, no one will argue against that, but to claim that he now needs to be blamed for other peoples erroneous acts seems a little bit unfair, do you not agree?

  • Nick McParlin 16th Oct '12 - 5:20pm

    My personal belief is that this should be a matter of individual conscience where MPs are concerned, rather than a matter of government, but that isn’t my reason for posting.

    I’m more interested in the fact that in a debate over the merits of projecting views of women wearing scant clothing in an alleged newspaper (I’m yet to be convinced of credentials on that score), this web-page has repeated instances of an advertisement for a lingerie line for a household name, on behalf of a retail company which has doubtless paid for its inclusion. Does anyone else find this a little self-contradictory?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 16th Oct '12 - 5:24pm

    Thomas , are you for real? How would you like it if women ruled the world and ogled men’s bodies in public, saying “I want a bit of that”. And remember, a topless man is not the equivalent of a Page 3 girl. It would be a man without trousers or underwear.

    I’d love to know what you think the causes of sexism are. I actually think Page 3 is a symptom, not a cause, but, you know, if I have appendicitis, I’d take the pain killer while I’m waiting for the surgery.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 16th Oct '12 - 5:26pm

    Daisy, I would have liked Nick to have shown a little more understanding about the campaign and about the issues related to having this kind of feature in a daily newspaper. You make some good points.

  • “So Clegg’s answer makes sense given the question. It’s a bit unfair to call it a cock-up.”

    To be fair, Lynne Featherstone did state that Nick Clegg had misunderstood the nature of the campaign.

    But perhaps it was just that Lynne Featherstone had misunderstood the nature of Nick Clegg’s comments.

    There certainly seems to be a bit of a communication problem there.

  • Think The Sun either ends page 3 or is sold on the top shelf. The choice is theirs.

  • Personally, I don’t buy the Sun, but I don’t buy into the argument being forwarded here.. This is essentially a version of temperance thinking. Lots of random desperate elements are being pooled together and aimed at convenient plebeian target, Something needs too be banned or controlled by respectable people.

  • Alex Baldwin 16th Oct '12 - 11:50pm

    @Caron

    Just to be clear here: You don’t think Page 3 causes sexism, but you do want to get rid of it because you don’t “like” it?

  • Alex Baldwin 17th Oct '12 - 12:04am

    “Also, your definition of objectification as “treating a person as a commodity, or as an object for use” – isn’t this basically what all employers do?” – Duncan Stott

    Indeed, you can’t have capitalism without objectification. I can only imagine that these members of our party supporting the petition are bravely leading us towards Kant’s Kingdom of Ends. First get Page 3 out of the way, and then every other fact of modern life!

  • This is getting out of hand now. Nick said it wasn’t the role of the state to intervene. If others want to petition The Sun then that is up to them.

    The fact it’s seen as undermining Lynne and others is neither here nor there. So what! He is entitled to his opinion in the same way they are entitled to theirs.

    For a liberal party there’s an awful lot of bullying going on around this issue. You don’t win arguments by closing down debate or telling people they are somehow inferior for holding a different opinion. I thought we were pluralists and could accept nuances and differences of view – even with our leaders!

    Personally I stand by my opinion (probably dismissed as a myth) that it’s our attitudes to sex and sexuality that is the problem in the first place not pictures of naked women. We view sex as a society as dirty and degrading. And therefore end up viewing these naked pictures in that light. Pictures of naked men and women should not be seen/portrayed as dirty or degrading but as natural because the human body is a natural thing and attraction to it is also a natural thing too. Change the sex education don’t start banning pictures – it’s our interpretation that is the issue not the pictures themselves.

    And one final thought in all of this I’m afraid we may just have to accept that men and women do and always will largely perceive these things in slightly different ways. Until each sex begins to understand the pysche of the other more this will continue to be a pressure point. ATM it seems we have one lobby which says you must stand in Line behind our point of view because that’s the RIGHT way to think. I’m sorry but years of evolution mean that men and women are likely to see these things differently. May be we should accept those differences but try to understand them too rather than badgering and bullying people into one stance or another.

  • It’s a good campaign with an aim I support. But can we please leave the twisting of our party leader’s words to our opponents, rather than doing it ourselves?

  • Surely the sexism aspect of this is triggered because it is so much more common in UK society for women to be pictured naked than men? I suppose you can argue that any revealing picture of anyone “objectifies” them, but if the person has agreed (and, indeed, sold) the pictures, then that can hardly be because they were unwilling to be objectified. In terms of whether or not Page 3 type images are rightfully described as “porn” – I think it has been accepted for many years that that description applies to the much more overtly sexual, violent and often sickening imagery which can be seen in various – definitely top shelf – publications, online etc. Nudity is at most regarded as soft porn.

    There is no doubt that women are more often portrayed as nude or in alluring poses than men in our society – and we can say this is sexist, but that is the way our culture has developed. What do we do about it? I don’t think bans are appropriate, especially for liberals. We might encourage the Sun to print nude men on alternate days? I am sure naked pics of women make many women feel uneasy, as pics of naked men will make men uneasy. Especially as we get older! I think Page 3 could much more accurately be regarded as ageist than sexist! As someone who has never claimed to have an attractive body, I have never wanted to be depicted in this way, and that will apply to millions of others of both genders. Which is a very good reason for Jo Swinson’s body image campaign.

    I just feel that “If you’ve got it, flaunt it” is an extraordinarily powerful slogan, and people will continue to do that, unless we resort to Taliban like tactics to stop them. Funnily enough, society has become less sexist in the last couple of decades, with many more revealing pics of men. The term I have used for many years now, is not sexism, but “sexy-ism”. Should there be a law against it?

  • Matthew Huntbach 17th Oct '12 - 11:00am

    Page 3 comes from an era when sexual freedom was being celebrated as a liberation from prudish ways of thinking of the recent past, but we had not caught up with the realisation that sex can be used abusively, and when it’s a matter of a powerful man getting gratification for himself from a woman or girl who feels forced into it, it is nasty. The Jimmy Savile issue reminds us of this – we like to suppose this sort of thing was always considered total evil, but the reality is there was a time from the late 1960s and on at least through the 1970s when, like smoking big cigars, its harm was not recognised and it might even have been seen as rather amusing or the mark of a powerful man who is to be admired.

    Clegg gave a snap reply, which is correct – it is hard to see how the state could actually ban page 3. How would the legislation be written to do it? Since I assume no-one is proposing a ban on any publication which carries pictures of nudity, it would have to be worded in a way that rules it out for a “newspaper”. It would be like the old Sunday trading laws where there were endless arguments about what was or was not permissible and the boundary lines became ludicrous. However, Clegg should have had the wits to combine why an actual ban is unworkable never mind just illiberal, with a clear statement that he felt it was wrong for something which supposes itself to be a household daily newspaper to have this feature.

  • The spirit of Mary Whitehouse lives on!

    For heaven’s sake give it a rest, stop trying to catch out our leader at every cut and turn and let him get on with his mission of helping to solve the country’s problems while somehow holding back the tide of Tory right wingers which is more and more spooking David Cameron.

    He is doing better at that than anyone gives him credit for.

  • “Cleggs cock up over page 3″ Miriam won’t be very pleased!

  • Matthew – you are right page 3 stems from an era when sexual freedom was being celebrated from prudish ways but that at that point we hasn’t caught up with the fact that sex can be used abusively. However I don’t see that realisation as a need to turn the clock back. We need to mature as a country when it comes to sex and have some frank discussions about what it all means/boundaries etc. Instead we just swing from one knee jerk reaction to another. And at the minute we are in serious danger of becoming ridiculously puritanical. And I tell you that kind of environment will only serve to act as a haven for abuse.

  • Liberals fight to get rid of Page 3, whatever next?! I’m much more scared about my child reading the content of the Sun than looking at the pictures of breasts, indeed Page 3 is probably a good distraction; maybe I should start a campaign to remove the remaining pages.

    There’s no good reason to campaign to get The Sun to withdraw Page 3 – most studies demonstrate that this sort of censorship goes hand in hand with societies with higher incidents of rape and sexual crime. As pornography has become more accepted in society, so the number of sexual crimes decreases. A liberal approach to these issues will give us the best outcome – allow people to make these choices themselves rather than being authoritarian. It’s trivial to find something that we don’t like about someone else’s choices, it’s much harder to accept that the choice should still be theirs. If the Sun scraps page 3 it will probably just increase the number of Star readers and maybe even see a return of The Sport as a daily; which would be great for Lembit, but counter-intuitive for the rest of us. I think this is a case where you could win a battle and lose the war. It’s completely at odds with the electorate that favour this terrible publication; it’s political kryptonite, Clegg knows this and has backed away from the madness.

    As for the “causes of sexism” Caron… Men don’t exclusively rule the world, female breasts are not equivalent to penises and women do ogle men’s bodies in public – these are the facts. In conjunction with these and the rise of liberalisation of sexual images there has been a drop in the number of sexual abuse/rape cases. So, are you for real? I believe that one of the prime causes of sexual discrimination in the modern world is this kind of victim-complex being imposed on young women, and I deem it more dangerous as a parent than any Page 3 image.
    .
    http://zeus4.cms.hu-berlin.de/sexology/BIB/DIAM/effects_pornography.htm
    http://anthonydamato.law.northwestern.edu/Adobefiles/porn.pdf
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-sunny-side-of-smut
    http://www.wdvf.org.uk/RapeHO.pdf
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-27083_3-10407102-247.html

  • Old Codger Chris 17th Oct '12 - 2:35pm

    And I thought the story about the Chief Whip and the policeman was the most trivial political fuss of the year. The silly season used to end on 31st August.

  • I wouldn’t be too fussed if women ruled the world and men were oogled; it sounds like a reasonable arrangement to me.

    I’d much prefer a world though which was based around equally , true equality which comes from inside people, not that tries to hide it by making it illegal. A free society in which people have the right to oogle those who wish to be oogled.

    Personally, I think the Daily Mail’s stance on women is much more harmful than the Sun’s. And this is prejudice created by women, about women, consumed by women. The idea that men are solely to blame for holding women back is a fallacy. I think the bulk of how women feel constrained to act comes from other women.

    It’s mainly women that “slut-shame” other women, who criticise their looks, who pressure them to conform, who bully young girls, who blame women for going back to work after having a baby, etc. Feminism could do a lot worse than being a bit more introspective from time to time.

    The worst most men in Western countries do is stay out of the debate. The only role a man can have in this discussion is either to agree completely or otherwise face being branded a sexist. This keeps men out of a discussion that surely we all agree we should be having? After all, the whole point of this campaign seems to be that by looking at a pair of breasts you automatically become a misogynist .

    As for the analogy of banning Page 3 being like taking a painkiller whilst awaiting an operation. I accept the analogy but can’t agree that it’s a good thing. Effective painkillers can be a very good way to hide an underlying problem. Unless you’re saying that after we’ve got rid of sexism then women should be able to show their bodies for money then you’re simply prescribing a heavy course of unnecessary medicine.

  • Stuart Mitchell 17th Oct '12 - 7:38pm

    Excellent points Ashley and Dave3000. And Glenn hits the nail on the head when he talks of people gunning for a “plebeian” target. You can see far more explicit pictures than Page 3 in any art gallery, and children are aways welcome. It does not seem to do the patrons harm.

    Theer are far more offensive things in the Sun. Jeremy Clarkson’s petrolhead rantings, for one, will certainly encourage more readers to go out and harm women (and others) than the girls on Page 3.

    I personally feel that the never-ending attempt to blame female models (of either the topless or fashion variety) for all the problems that beset young girls these days to have more than a hint of misogyny about it. Male models do not come under the same scrutiny.

  • I cant believe no one’s yet done the classic:

    Clegg’s cock up? My arse…

  • It’s not just the pictures. Have any of you read the captions. Remember Sam Fox was barely 16 when she was a Page 3 model. Read the captions and tell me honestly – would you be happy for your 16 year old daughter to do this? With. Those captions and text ? It’s not art gallery stuff! Sheesh!!

  • “He is doing better at that than anyone gives him credit for.”

    He isn’t. That’s why he gets no credit.

  • Richard Dean 17th Oct '12 - 9:51pm

    People read the captions?

  • Richard Dean

    I recommend reading in all its forms. You may find it illuminating.

  • Richard Dean 18th Oct '12 - 1:55pm

    Phyllis. Many thanks, I bow to your superior wisdom, I will seek illumination in the captions.

  • Thanks. And once you have read the Page 3 captions, please answer my question about whether you’d be comfortable with your daughter, sister, niece being the subject of picture and captions. Thanks.

  • Richard Dean 18th Oct '12 - 2:03pm

    Phyllis, hold your horses gal! I have to revise the alphabet first!

  • Richard Dean 18th Oct '12 - 2:17pm

    Phyllis. I’ve now put the letters in the right order, and I have a question. Is this issue about somebody’s “comfort”? But one person’s comfort is another’s bed of nails. Don’t LibDems favour a society that celebrates diversity? Thanks in advance for your clarification.

  • Richard Dean 18th Oct '12 - 2:53pm

    Phyllis, I’ve managed the first word. I thought I’d celebrate by saying Yes! My daughter, sister, and niece are all responsible people over the age of consent. I support their freedom to put their picture wherever they choose. I’ll try the second word now ….

  • Richard Dean

    Keep trying.

  • Richard Dean

    Then I give up. I just hope most Lib Dem fathers etc don’t feel as you do.

  • Richard Dean 18th Oct '12 - 8:25pm

    Phylllis.

    Do you want me to deny my daughter, niece, and sister their rights?

  • Young people have all sorts of rights and freedoms- the right to self-harm for instance or the right to be prostitutes, or the right to live in an abusive relationship. I don’t think many of us would be happy or ‘comfortable’ with that . Page 3 is about pervy men ogling naked young (16 year olds +) women . It’s laughable to suggestion Thatcher this is no different from Venus de Milo.

    Recently we heard that young female presenters were groped in the workplace by male presenters in the 80s and 90s. When the women complained they were asked “have you no sense of humour” ” are you a lesbian?” And “it’s just horsing around” . They could equally have said “they are just enjoying the female form” . Joan Bakewell said on Newsnight the other day ” that was the culture” and anyone dissenting was ridiculed as being “uptight” etc . Sound familiar?

    I hope one day Page 3 and the objectification of women will be as unacceptable as (we like to think) that workplace groping is nowadays.

  • Richard Dean 18th Oct '12 - 9:53pm

    Phyllis. I am all in favour of encouraging better attutudes between people in society, but the arguments against page 3 have some serious problems.

    One is that the “pervy men” approach is more or less the same as the one that anti-LGBT people make against LGBT’s, who were also once called called “perverts”. It’s prejudice – a word that comes from pre judgement – judgment in advance of any facts. One group of people doesn’t like the behaviour of another group and so labels the other group as bad and bans them. Not consistent with LibDem principles at all.

    Another is that banning things doesn’t stop those things happening, It just drives them underground. Page 3 may be a symptom, or it may be a safety valve, or it may even be an education, but banning it isn’t going to stop anything. If you want to improve people, the only effective way is by rational argument and persuasion, not force. That is the LibDem way. The person who needs to be improved needs to be making free choices, otherwise the improvement doesn’t last..

    If you would like some female “page 3” stuff, why not go to http://attitude.co.uk/men/ ? This is the magazine that Lynne Featherstone was pleased to accept an award from, so I guess she approves. There’s what looks like a 16-year old male about half-way down the page.

  • Stuart Mitchell 18th Oct '12 - 11:14pm

    Phyllis
    ” Page 3 is about pervy men ogling naked young (16 year olds +) women”

    Given that it’s perfectly legal for men to have sex with such girls, why is “ogling” such a big deal?

    There are plenty of countries in the world where images such as Page 3 would be completely unacceptable. Like Saudi Arabia. Do you think women in those countries are not “objectified” (whatever that means)? Are they treated with more respect than women in the UK?

    Men “ogling” at pretty girls – and vice versa – is a natural part of being human. To deny this is to deny a pretty fundamental fact of life. Getting rid of page 3 would achieve one thing only: consigning a few dozen more young women to the dole queue along with the millions of others.

    When my own daughter reaches 16 (not many years from now) I won’t bat an eyelid if she chooses to do topless modelling. If some illiberal busybodies then petition her employers to sack her, I’ll be up in arms about it.

  • Stuart Mitchell

    And if you find your 16 year old having sex with a number of much older men having been groomed by them during her topless photo sessions, will you then explain it as a ‘lifestyle choice’ as the professionals in the Rochdale case did? After all she’s above the age of consent.

    I understand you and others wanting desperately to be ‘Liberal’ but really guys, modicum of common sense would be very useful too.

  • Richard Dean 19th Oct '12 - 12:20am

    Phyllis. This is about some pictures and text in the Sun. It is not about anything like Rochdale . A person who reads the Sun and ogles Page 3 will certainly be aware of that paper’s view of practical moraility, from reading the stories of good and bad on almost every page, from which they will also know that they should go to the police – or a doctor, teacher, hospital, friend, neighbour, cleric – if they have suspicions about grooming or sexual abuse.

  • Is objectification a problem? I don’t think anyone who engages with media can complain, since our communication depends upon representations via the medium of our choice. Online, at least, we are all avatars.

    And surely consenting, accurately-named models are subjectified, not objectified?

    However, the primary issue isn’t the imagery, it is any unwanted behavioural responses within society, which are attributed to visual stimuli such as these politicised images.

    And since that’s the case, removing specific stimuli to eliminate unwanted response patterns is only a temporary solution because it doesn’t provide the individual skills to neutralise destructive behaviours – and the same underlying issues of a failing education system will be simply displaced.

    Blaming imagery for behaviour (even perverse behaviour) is perverse, as imagery is the product of behaviours – humans create pictures, not the other way round.

    I don’t agree with p3 and I don’t like p3, but I defend the right to it as an expression of free comment in and on our society. The public and publishers should be made more aware of what that commentary entails so that they can address any contradiction with society.

    If tobacco companies cannot be banned, but can be forced to provide warnings, perhaps p3 could be issued with a health warning – maybe the first could be a photo of a woman post-mastectomy, to raise awareness of breast cancer!

  • Stuart Mitchell 19th Oct '12 - 6:30pm

    Phyllis:

    Didn’t the Rochdale grooming ring centre around a taxi company? Perhaps we should ban taxis. A lot of bad things happen in taxis.

  • Richard Dean 19th Oct '12 - 9:44pm

    Well, Geoffrey, I would suggest the following advice might help when women try to convince men of something:

    1. Be honest and upfront about what your aim is.
    Men don’t react well to being tricked to sign up to something that turns out to be something else. It appears that this petition is basically about domestic violence (http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/news/world/538530/petition-to-take-page-3-out-of-the-sun.html).

    2. Present evidence , or a clear logical argument, not an emotional one
    It appears that Marie Claire believes that Page 3 causes domestic violence. Perhaps it does, but where is the evidence or logical argument?. Something more than a claim of “objectification” would help.

    3. Respect the rights of others while defending your own
    For example, do not run roughshod over arguments based on freedom of the press, because this just antagonises people who believe that that freedom has important value

    4. Respond to objections and counter-arguments logically rather then emotionally
    Men tend to respond negatively to insults. They do not produce a state of mind that is willing to listen further

    I hope this doesn’t get me into trouble! It is meant as a friendly olive branch in this easily-misunderstood area. I’d be interested in knowing what advice women might like to give men in return, on the subject of how to communicate effectively. 🙂

  • This discussion would be greatly clarified if it were known whether the disagreement was about means or ends. First you need to figure out whether the *outcome* of no naked pictures in a widely-distributed paper is desirable or not. If you agree that it’s *not* desirable, then you can have the argument over what method to achieve that outcome (law, public pressure, etc.) is best, or whether there is no acceptable means to achieve it. But if you don’t agree on the desirability of the outcome in the first place, then the argument over methods is moot; and pulling in arguments against potential methods as a way of bolstering arguments that the *outcome* is undesirable is intellectually incoherent.

  • Oranjepan wrote:
    “Blaming imagery for behaviour (even perverse behaviour) is perverse, as imagery is the product of behaviours – humans create pictures, not the other way round.”
    This is a fallacious argument. The fact that humans create pictures, or (more aptly) that the kinds of images that circulate in a culture are reflective of the behaviours of that culture, by no means excludes the possibility that images also encourage or inculcate those behaviours, in a cyclical manner. Victorian fashion magazines showing women wearing bustles were certainly a product of the existence of bustles in the fashionable world. But those fashion plates in turn encouraged women to wear bustles, and men to purchase bustles for women, and prompted designers to come up with bigger and showier bustles, as the cycle fed on itself, until (eventually) the bustle became ridiculous, and eventually old-fashioned and despised.

  • Stuart Mitchell 20th Oct '12 - 11:15am

    Geoffrey: “It is remarkable to me that the main division here is what men think and what women think.”

    The women’s charity Platform 51 did a survey earlier this year on attitudes to Page 3. The difference between male and female opinion was not as great as you might think. While 42% of women support a ban (their choice of word, not mine), “almost a third” of men did also. A difference, but not that big. That leaves us with 58% of women, and two thirds of men, who oppose a ban or have no opinion.

  • @David
    at which point can an individual exert any influence over a cyclical process? At the point of action, or the point of reaction?

    If we define the former as a conscious decision and the latter as an unconscious decision then you’re suggesting individuals should not attempt to exert any influence over social processes, except collectively by governmental intervention.

    The campaign is not calling for such heavy-handed legislation, and I thoroughly disagree with your argument that blame is anything but a destructive mode of debate – particularly when it’s directed at inanimate products of the imagination!

    I refer you back to your previous point about means and ends: the two must correspond with each other, because the means determines the ends.

  • Taking a photo of any girl/woman under the age of 18 is considered child pornography….

    see this excerpt from the Sexual Offences Act 2003

    It is an offence to take, permit to be taken, make, possess, show, distribute or advertise indecent images of children in the United Kingdom. A child for these purposes is anyone under the age of 18. Viewing an indecent image of a child on your computer means that you have made a digital image. An image of a child also covers pseudo-photographs (digitally collated or otherwise). This can include images taken by and distributed by the child themselves (often referred to as “Sexting”). A person convicted of such an offence may face up to 10 years in prison.”

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