independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Ian O'Doherty: Fifty shades of hypocrisy over Page Three protest

They haven't gone way, you know. No, I'm not referring to Gerry Adams and his terrorist cronies – although few tears will be shed when that lot are finally consigned to the pages of history.

Rather, I'm talking about the thin-lipped, finger-wagging Feminazis who are only happy when they're giving out about something.

Blokes my age will well remember 'Millietant', the character from Viz magazine who was a professional feminist.

She spent her time constantly protesting against sexism, misogyny and the oppressive, phallocentric nature of society – even when there was nothing to be actually offended about.

Actually, in Millietant's case, the least offensive things were the ones which set her off the most.

And I was reminded of that character earlier in the week when I saw reports of a protest outside News International's offices in East London.

Initially I assumed it was an anti-hacking protest or had something to do with Leveson.

But no, these protesters had gathered to, erm, protest against the fact that The Sun's Page 3 had just celebrated its 42nd anniversary.

Frankly, I reckon most of us wouldn't have noticed if something like Page 3 had vanished off the news stands years ago, so irrelevant has it become.

But for the gathering sisterhood, its very existence is a testament to a culture which despises women and reduces them to mere sex objects.

In fact, according to one of the women: "Boobs are not news", while another claimed that: "Women are about more than their cup size."

Now, both of these claims are undeniably true.

But they're also completely missing the point.

Because saying that a Page 3 model is only judged by her boobs is a bit like complaining that a footballer is only judged by his ability on the pitch. Or a chef on his prowess in the kitchen.

This is what these people do, it's not what they are. So, if you're going to be a topless model, it goes without saying that, to be frank, you're going to have the kind of breasts that men can objectify.

But apart from the occasional solo run from British female politicians such as Theresa May and Lynne Featherstone, does anyone care about an anachronism like Page 3 any more?

Even the paper takes the mickey out of the whole concept in the way it puts ridiculously lofty and philosophical quotes beside the models' heads. I know that only because I am a highly diligent journalist and researched every Page 3 this week. Honestly, your honour.

Because when you consider what you can find on the Internet these days; when you consider the sort of TV channels you can now have on your satellite dish, Page 3 is about as risqué as a Women's Institute bake sale.

One of the incongruities about the protest this week and their complaints that using topless models contributes to the coarsening, the 'pornification' of our culture is that the biggest publishing phenomenon since Harry Potter was . . . Fifty Shades Of Grey.

A how-to guide to bondage and S&M, it has been hailed as 'liberating' for women and their sexuality.

Now, nobody with any brains is going to argue that the more liberated women feel in their bodies then the better for all of us, men included.

But I do find it a bit bloody rich that if you open The Sun and turn to the third page you are a monster, but if you read Fifty Shades you are somehow reclaiming your right as a woman to feel frisky.

Now, I haven't read this book, nor do I intend to.

Not out a sense of prudishness, you understand. No, it's simply because any woman I know who has read them has described the trilogy as absolutely hideously written and embarrassingly bad.

Yet they still managed to read all three of them. Funny that.

At the height of the Fifty Shades hyperbole, I even saw one English newspaper running a feature about mothers who had given their teenage daughters a copy of the books.

Now, each to their own and all that, but if a father gave his 16-year-old son a book about trussing a woman up like a turkey before committing other unspeakable acts he'd have his collar felt by the cops. And rightly so.

When men look at naked women, it's porn. It's classed as vile, squalid, smutty porn.

When women do the same thing, however, they are merely engaging in 'erotica' and exploring themselves.

But looking at those feminist protesters the other day, something struck me: At 42 years old it's true that Page 3 is long past its sell-by date and is utterly irrelevant.

How ironic that the very people giving out about it don't realise the same could apply to them.

Irish Independent

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