When I moved to the UK from Sweden to start university about ten years ago, I had played sports pretty much every day of my life. First football then ice-hockey since the age of 5. From about the age of ten to the day I moved to the UK at the age of 20, I had spent as much time I could in an ice rink. Me and my friends fought against stereotypes about female ice hockey players and stigma about women and physical sports all the time. We fought for time on the ice, funds for tournaments and new kit. We fought to do well, to excel at a sport we not only loved and enjoyed but that was an important part of who we were. Playing a male dominated sport is character building and I was immensely proud of myself, all my team mates as well as the opposition for growing a sport against a backlash of opinions and stereotypes.
Being an athlete was a large part of who I was when I went of to a new country to start University. I have always loved football and in the absence of an ice hockey team near by, I was excited to take up football again. And I was excited about the prospect of living in a country that breaths football, where i knew I would be able to talk about it, watch it – read about it. When you move to a new country, you never know what newspapers to read, which ones are on the left, which ones are on the right, and most important to me at the time – who has the best sport section. So I looked around and I asked around. The unanimous answer was that the Sun was my best bet for good sports coverage. My hall mates read it, my classmates read it, everyone seemed to be reading it. I can still remember the SU shop that day when I picked up my first copy and flicked through it. My first emotion when I came across page three was embarrassment. As someone from a different country, a country that is by no means perfect but has long since moved pornography and naked pictures to top shelfs or behind dark plastic, I remember being embarrassed about taking it to the til. I also remember wondering why it was there at all? In Sweden sports is also massively linked to notions of masculinity and women often reduced to half time entertainment, but this was just here in the open. I flipped through it to look at the sports. Second disappointment was that the sports pages were just as lacking in female sporting achievement as the ones at home.
That paper that day was an introduction to how my new country valued not only women in sports but women in general. Reduced to naked breasts on page three of a magazine by and for men, not for me. I bought the Sun that day. I read the sport section with the paper neatly folded, the naked breasts secretly tucked away where no one could see them. And I think I did a few more times whilst at uni “for the sports coverage”. But as I matured, learnt more about who I was, learnt about the bigger picture, I decided to never again pick that paper up, never to pay for it. I love my new country, it has a lot of amazing qualities and I am proud to have made it my home. But I will never accept how page three still makes me feel when I look at it. How I remember how it made me feel that day, like I should be the one embarrassed, like I don’t belong in the sport section but naked across page three. Some people refer to Page Three as a British institution. It is not, it is a stain on this country’s reputation that has the ability to make a optimistic 20 year old female athlete newly arrived here feel like absolute shit. Page Three has no place here.
In comparison to other stories, this probably seems quite minor, but a few weeks ago I was with my friend waiting for our order in a takeaway. Three men in their mid to late twenties walked in and were then waiting for their order. One of them scoured through the selection of “news” papers before grabbing the sun and saying loudly “Where’s the tits? Are they decent ones today?” It made me feel really uncomfortable to hear men dicussing “the tits on that” right in front of us, and in a public place. I don’t think it should be normal or acceptable for material like this to be available in a ‘family’ newspaper.
I got breasts at 10, that’s the final year of junior school, while you’re all still changing for PE with girls and boys together in the cloakroom. I was the 10 year old in a B cup bra. My name is Sam, and the favourite and most famous Page 3 girl of the time was Sam Fox. You can probably imagine the comments. Boys made giggling taunts about ‘Page 3′ as I changed for PE and lecherous fathers leered at me as I passed the school gates making remarks like “you could be on Page 3 too, with those”. Like it was all I could aspire to, all I was good for. Men would make comments as I walked home from school, some even yelled crude suggestions from their cars. Let me reiterate: I was 10.
It was as if developing breasts was the universal indicator to the Sun-reading public that I was ‘up for it’ regardless of my chronological or emotional age, or my actual somewhat confused understanding of what sex was.
That was certainly the view of my grandfather who began abusing me at this age. Beginning with my breasts, because they were “just as good as Page 3, and look, that girl isn’t making a fuss about showing them off” and she wasn’t, was she? And it felt like everyone thought that my breasts should be showed off like that, because they were all saying the same thing. The wider context of my experiences in school and at the school gates, being brought up with Page 3 at the breakfast table every morning, it all seemed to confirm what my grandfather was saying. I had breasts and he had a right to see them, play with them and eventually invade the rest of my body, because, it seemed obvious from the attitudes around me, by growing breasts I was now ‘ready’, it was, my grandfather explained, a sign I was a ‘big girl’ now. It didn’t matter that I was still hairless, hipless, and hadn’t begun menstruating, it didn’t matter that I was only just past my 11th birthday by then. I had breasts and I was expected to have sex, and I was expected to like it, and not tell anyone, because that was how it worked, the Page 3 girl doesn’t say anything. My grandfather abused me for about 3-4 years, less towards the end as he became less agile and I got better at escaping him, and when he died I cried with relief. I tried all sorts of things to stop him and one of those was putting on weight. I felt that if I got really fat and unattractive he and all men would leave me alone. In The Sun, they were always very nasty about women they considered fat and unattractive and I thought that would be safer. It was and it wasn’t. My bust was always bigger, out of proportion with the rest of me, so men would insult and grope me at the same time. Like the uninvited groping isn’t insulting enough. I couldn’t win.
Please don’t ever tell me that Page 3 is just a piece of ‘harmless fun’: Page 3 groomed me. It prepared me for my grandfather’s abuse. It and the attitudes it engendered in the children and adults around me prepared the way for a 72 year old to force an 11 year old to have sex with him and convince her that this was ‘normal big girl stuff’. A national newspaper that everyone I knew read – all the adults who I had to respect and obey – this newspaper made by people so far above me, so gilded in authority to my child’s mind, had given an example of what women with big breasts were supposed to be like and everyone seemed to agree that I had to be like that. Page 3 was my grandfather’s authority and evidence: “Look at her, she isn’t crying, she isn’t making a fuss, this is how big girls should behave, it wouldn’t be in the paper if it weren’t true”.
While this is a very minor story in comparison to many others shared here, I still feel it adds to the examples of why Page 3 is damaging.
I used to teach primary school children, in years 1 & 2, aged between 5-7. I remember laying out newspaper to cover a painting table, and ralising that I’d accidentally t page 3 of the Sun face up on the table. I removed it, and was careful from then on to always check the papers I laid out. Teachers shouldn’t have to spend valuable time making sure they aren’t accidentally displaying porn to children.
I worked in a city trading room in the late 80s, early 90s. As the only female I took the harassment -in all its forms -as part of the job. I hated when they would compare me (daily) to the girl on page three: ‘Where are your tits??’ ‘Your tits look rubbish in that’ etcetc.
I think I forced myself not to mind because being accepted in a very alpha-male job was not to show weakness like objecting to harassment. Of course the harassment didn’t stop there, but the ‘enjoyment’ and discussion of page 3 was part of the routine. Not minding about being treated like an object was survival. I can’t imagine the grief I would have got about complaining about it!! Unthinkable!!
I’m making up for not minding now I’m teaching my daughter about feminism and equality so she doesn’t feel she has to put up with that kind of behaviour. People I talk to about it have an epiphany when they think about it, like they can’t believe they hadn’t considered how out of place it is.
Soft porn has no place in a family newspaper. It should not be accessible to everyone. It is not OK and it has to change.
NO MORE PAGE 3!!!!!!!!
As a child Page 3 was always in our house, brought in by my father. When I was probably around ten years old upwards, I was always uncomfortable around it and always had a feeling of humiliation it it was left open on page 3 near me. The boys throughout the school years would say smutty remarks involving it and even show the images to us girls in an attempt to embarrass us, which it did because I had no comeback or was told I was jealous.
But when I was fifteen years old, I was brutally raped by four men in their late teens and early twenties. When they ripped my jumper off, they pulled my arms back and showed each other I was a “real life fucking page 3 girl”.
Every single day afterwards I was submitted to seeing the image in The Sun newspaper. I felt powerless, intimidated and humiliated. I’m now 38yrs old and this pornography is STILL circulated in a ‘family’ newspaper for titilation and to the detriment of every woman out there, whatever her age. It needs to stop, it’s is unfair, dangerous and negatively influential.
One morning as we went outside we found Page 3 pictures stuck on our front windows. I have young children so removed the pages quickly. Peeling pictures of bare breasts from my window is not an experience I want to revisit. I felt cross, bewildered and also a little demeaned at the same time. I had no idea why this has been done or why it made me feel so bad.
Someone had walked up to the front of our family home during the night and stuck pictures of almost naked woman on the windows. I wasn’t sure if the motivation was personal and if so what on earth it was supposed to say to me or my husband or my family in general. Or maybe it was random in which case it was weird.
My husband had left for work in the dark and was oblivious until I called him when I got to work to let him know what had happened. He initially said it was not worth worrying about. Although he understood my concerns better when I pointed out our daughter nearly walked out to see such a sight on her her way to school.
Later we found out there was a group of teenage boys daring each other to stick the pictures on a few local houses for a laugh. They had been seen running away from one home but not caught.
So then I thought this merely a modern day version of cherry knocking. But it’s not just harmless irritation. Someone put breasts on peoples’ homes for a dare. They didn’t choose a picture of say a racing car or a sporting hero or even a fully dressed attractive woman for this act of bravado. Perhaps they used Page 3 because it was accessible titillating porn and socially acceptable to them so good for their game. It should not be in a family newspaper any more than it should be on my family home.
I still feel uncomfortable thinking about it now even though this happened about two years ago. Page 3 is not about real women, it’s about male fantasy. It’s not the type of (very young) woman I want my daughters to be or see. Especially as we set off on the school run.
I stopped buying The Sun years ago due to page 3. It is disgusting and degrading. Recently I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and had to have a quarter of my breast removed. I feel horrible and ugly and these images in Newspapers and films make me feel worse. I also work at a school and every time we ask parents for Newspapers,we make sure we tell them not to bring any of The Sun Newspapers.
When I was in year 10 we were set work in a maths lesson that required us all to bring in a newspaper. All I remember was the uncomfortable feeling and the annoyance at the fact this gave the boys an excuse to be waving around topless models in a place that is meant to be safe. Girls that age, with all the insecurity they already have with their quickly changing bodies, should not have to have soft pornography thrust in their faces in a maths lesson. It’s outrageous and needs to end. When else would it ever be acceptable for half naked women to be displayed in the middle of a school lesson?!
I once worked for a few weeks at a well known insurance company in Lytham, and one day in my department two of the young men in a higher position were stood behind me, laughing with each other about something evidently very amusing they were reading whilst rustling the newspaper. As they were right behind me, I turned, smiled and innocently asked ‘what’s funny?’. They ignored me so I turned back round to face my desk. I was not expecting the response. They suddenly thrust the newspaper page right in front of my face, 3 or 4 inches away from my eyes, and said ‘this’. It was Page 3. I was forced to look at the pornographic image in very close proximity. I felt shocked and upset.
I went to the manager, a woman, and quietly confided in her about what had just happened. She called me a trouble maker, that these two young men were going places and would have big careers, and threatened that if I dared to take it further I ‘would be known forever more as a complainer’, that I wouldn’t want a negative record on my career.. and then I was fired.
I just want to share this with others as it was a horrible thing to happen to a young woman at work and the two men got away with their behaviour and were rewarded. Pornography has no place in the workplace or in public and is a symptom of the contempt and destructive, harmful attitudes directed towards girls and women in our supposedly modern society.