Sunday 21 April 2019

Sun has finally set on Page 3 - and it's about time too

Sinead Moriarty

Sinead Moriarty

After years of campaigning against the pictures of topless women on Page 3 of 'The Sun', it looks as if the newspaper has finally caved to the pressure.

In the last two days there have been photos of celebrities in bikinis - shock horror - with their tops on.

In a world where porn to suit any taste or fetish can be accessed at the click of a computer button, it seems that Page 3 is now considered dated.

Mind you, buying a newspaper to oogle a pair of boobs always seemed ridiculous.

I remember living in London and seeing 'The Sun' laid open on a table.

On the left page were photos and reports of a serious accident with terrible fatalities while directly opposite was a young women with her boobs out.

It was ludicrous, not to mind tasteless.

For decades, campaigners have tried to kill off the newspaper's practice of printing photographs of topless women on Page 3 - but to no avail.

For more than 40 years, feminists have been claiming that Page 3 objectifies women, is sexist and demeaning.

It has been said that Rupert Murdoch himself wasn't a fan of the topless pics when they were introduced by the editor at the time, Larry Lamb in November 1970. Murdoch, however, swiftly changed his mind when he saw the sales figures rising.

While most women find the pictures distasteful and unnecessary, some of the Page 3 girls have made careers out of the photos.

Jodie Marsh, who has appeared on Page 3 a number of times and now stars in reality TV shows, tweeted in defence of The Sun's feature: "So-called 'feminists' really annoy me. Telling girls they shouldn't do page 3 is NOT being a feminist; women should do WHATEVER they want!!"

She has a point. For some young women, it was a way of making money and getting their 'face' out there, with the hope of building a career around it.

Some, like Samantha Fox, became pop stars, but they were in the minority.

Most of the girls disappeared after their moment in the spotlight as their topless snaps ended up being used to wrap cod and chips.

Over the years, many women and groups have tried and ultimately failed to stop the Page 3 topless photos being published.

Most famously, in 1986, Clare Short, then a Labour MP, raised the issue in the Commons, leading to supportive letters from women.

However, she received very nasty and personal attacks from 'The Sun'.

The snide and hurtful comments continued for decades. At the Leveson Inquiry, 'Sun' editor Dominic Mohan said a particularly nasty article headlined 'Fat, jealous Clare brands Page 3 porn", published before he became editor, was "not probably something I would run now".

Then in 2012, a brave woman, Lucy-Anne Holmes, set up a campaign group called 'No More Page 3'. It quickly gained support from a number of MPs and anti-sexism charities.

Her timing seemed to be right as her campaign went from strength to strength. She was cautiously optimistic about the news that topless photos will no longer appear in 'The Sun'.

Holmes told BBC Newsnight that the group would not claim victory if scantily clad women continued to appear in the paper but it was a "step in the right direction" if they were no longer topless.

Holmes said: "The Sun hasn't suddenly decided that women say, think and do interesting and incredible things. It's still basically saying women are here for decoration."

Many commentators believe that the newspaper is removing its Page 3 photos in an attempt to re-invent itself after the phone-hacking revelations. Whatever the reasons, it's a welcome decision.

Interestingly, the Irish edition of 'The Sun' dropped topless photos from its edition back in August 2013, replacing them with shots of women in swimwear.

At the time, the editor Paul Clarkson said the decision was taken because of "cultural differences" between Britain and Ireland.

"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," he added.

It's nice to think we are a classier nation, not in need of a pair of large breasts staring out at us over our cereal in the morning.

Hopefully, we can now look forward to photos of the incredible women who are changing the world.

Women who are brokering peace treaties, saving lives, winning gold medals… true role models for our children, and the best part is, they do it with their clothes on!

Irish Independent

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