I was in London the other day and popped in to a local newsagents, which was one of those that has the newspapers displayed on the counter in front of you, next to the till. I was waiting to pay and in front of me were two children, seemingly brother and sister: the boy was about ten and the girl about thirteen. They were paying for some sweets, and as the woman put their money in the till I noticed the boy stealing a sideways glance at his sister. He then quickly turned over the front page of the Sun on the counter right in front of him, and displayed the Page 3 picture. His sister scolded him and the woman behind the till looked very disapproving, and the page was hastily closed again. The girl dragged the boy out of the shop, obviously angry with him.
That incident sort of summed up why I support NMP3. The boy knew what he was doing was ‘naughty’ and also in some sense he knew he had power: he could annoy three women at once – myself, the shopkeeper and his sister, by doing what he did. Boys will always be naughty but the Sun provides them with the means and the permission to be naughty in a sexist way.
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.
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.
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.
My mum had breast cancer and eventually had to have her left breast removed. She was devastated about it, and she fought the cancer like a true hero, we were all so happy when she recovered. My dad used to buy the Sun and bring it in to the house, my mum never said anything for a few months but we could all tell she was visibly upset by it, she would stiffen up when she saw it, she would try to put it in the bin as soon as possible, one day my sister brought it up at the dinner table, she asked my dad why he would bring the sun into the house when his wife has just had to have her breast removed due to nearly dying of cancer, why he was bringing pornography that belittled and degraded a woman to just her breasts, what did that make mum, she asked. We were all shocked at what she said, my mum the most of all, she thought no one had noticed, she thought she was hiding her discomfort and upset from us all, my dad was so ashamed. He said he hadn’t even thought about it, that he was so sorry that he had done that, that he had upset her every single day by bringing a new naked woman into her house each evening and putting her on the kitchen table where my mum would be reminded of the ideal that she would never ever meet again, that her husband was being presented with a perfect set of breasts every single day in front of her whilst she tortured herself over her operation scars, when really she should have been so proud of them, they were the signs of victory and the fight against cancer, but instead the sun made her feel terrible. my dad swore never to buy the sun again, and to this day he hasn’t. neither has anyone else in my family. I think everyone is just still quite shocked that the sun still ignorantly prints this.
I was in a cafe earlier and saw four guys on their lunchbreak (they were wearing hi- vis jackets so prob builders or cable fitters or something but anyway) and they passed round the Sun , sharing their views on page 3 and saying ‘fiiiiitt’ really loudly. Everyone looked uncomfortable. The waitress who came to get their plates etc was sneered at as she was to them ‘not fit’ (ie: she didnt look like a pornstar). They came across as thuggish and intimidating. So much so that I couldn’t bring myself to do or say anything. A climate of normalised porn creates an atmosphere of contempt for women and girls. It really is horrendous.
I used to work in Argos, East Kilbride in Scotland. On more than one occasion I went into the tearoom and was confronted by images of page 3 women scattered around the table with young stockroom men sitting chatting about these girls in the newspaper. This made feel so uncomfortable that I stopped going into the tearoom and went elsewhere to eat my lunch. When I finally decided to approach the manager about this issue the first thing I saw was a copy of The Sun on his desk and backed out. I have left Argos now but never have I experienced such sexism in the workplace. The men in this store would even shout a code to each other “G13″ when an attractive women would come into the store so that they could all stop what they were doing and come out and take their turn ogling her – even the manager did this. This kind of behaviour is proof of the impact that newspapers like The Sun have on both men and women, as the men seemed to have all the power whereas the women were all very submissive even the managers. My only regret is not making a formal complaint at the time but I felt very helpless and intimidated by the men in this store.
I am divorced now, but when I was married my husband used to buy the sun so we’d have a brand new pornographic picture on the dining table every evening. He was abusive and cruel to me for many years, and used page 3 to taunt me, I guess because it was just there and available. After I had my 2 children my body was not what it was when he married me at 22, and he would make me feel ashamed and embarrassed of it. He would tell me I was fat, flabby, stretched out, that my ‘tits’ were a ‘write off’ and hold page 3 up to me and tell me that’s what I am supposed to look like, that’s what I married. My confidence was so low and I believed him and felt worthless and unlovable. He sometimes told me he would leave me for someone else, that I was lucky he stuck around, he did it infront of my two daughters which probably upset me the most. My youngest developed an eating disorder in her teens and I do wonder if my ex husbands behaviour contributed to this. I eventually discovered that he had in fact been having affairs for many years, mostly with young girls, probably the same age as the page 3 girls he would compare me to so cruelly. It took many years of torture and a lot of strength to leave this man. I am fully in support of the no more page 3 campaign as I see page 3 as a degradation of women in general, a poster held up by society for the sole purpose of telling men what they are entitled to. It has taken me a long time and a lot of counselling to accept myself, (partially – I still feel insecure sometimes) and know that my body is mine and has created the miracle of life twice, my body has a purpose beyond that of being a toy for any man to compare and criticise over his dinner. The sooner this becomes unacceptable the better. Maybe when these people realise that we are not going to put up with this treatment anymore it will set off a positive chain of events. No you cannot treat us like sex toys. No you cannot do whatever you like whether it offends us or not. No you cannot talk to me like that. Or treat me like this. No you cannot shout at me in the street. Or grab me. Or pay me less. Or undermine me because I am female. I am a person too. It’s time the voices of the other 50% of us were heard.