When I was a child my uncle used to babysit me and my little sister, he would show us Page 3 and ask us what we thought about it, he would ask us questions like ‘do you want to look like that?’ and ‘one day you’ll be as sexy as this’. It made us feel uncomfortable and guilty at the time, even at that age we had a strange sense that something was wrong and blamed ourselves for the dirty shameful feelings we got. Over the years it escalated, I felt like I couldn’t say anything to my parents because it was just a newspaper and no one seemed bothered that he brought it with him everytime. I thought they would laugh at me.
When I was 14 my uncle raped me and everytime I see Page 3 now, which is in reality most days, it reminds me of him and what he did and how he used to behave with us growing up. I reported it and it went through the courts, etc, it was very hard on the whole family, I think I felt numb to what had happened, I think at the time it was hardest on my parents and grandparents, I felt again that feeling of shame, like I shouldn’t have made a fuss, like it wasn’t a big deal, like my uncle bringing the sun newspaper into the house with him every time he babysat us wasn’t a big deal. I now realise it is a big deal. And this feeling of shame is how these evil people silence us and give themselves a free pass to treat women and girls like pieces of meat. We’re served up as products and made to feel guilty about it.
I feel angry now when I see Page 3 littered in the streets, lying open in the dentist waiting room, on the floor of the train, blowing open on the shelves of Tesco at knee level, stuck up on walls of the car garage and in the toilets of my local bar, it makes me angry that I have to relive my years of grooming and eventual rape over and over again everyday. I feel angry that this hasn’t been gotten rid of already, not just for my own personal reasons but for the hundreds of reasons that are so blaringly obvious to anyone who cares about not just women and girls, but boys and men too, about decency, respect, compassion and basic courtesy. I feel angry everytime I see it against my will. But most of all I feel sad, and alone and unimportant.