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.
My story is an everyday common one, I’ve felt embarrassed about sharing it for fear that it is not as important or relevant but I now realise that it is important and should be shared precisely because it is so everyday and common.
Growing up my dad bought the Sun most days. I was always aware of what was just under the cover even as a tiny child. A naked woman. I was a curious child and loved to read, I ate up anything I could get my hands on but for some reason I always avoided my dads copy of the Sun because I got a sickly and dark feeling from it. The picture inside it made me feel uncomfortable and dirty. It made me feel uncomfortable talking to my dad whilst he was reading the paper and almost resentful of him for bringing it in to the house even though at that age I could not really explain to myself why. I think I picked up on the unconscious messages that the suns page 3 give off, it felt like I was being degraded or humiliated even though I was only a small girl and not a full grown woman yet.
As I got slightly older and more self aware, my feelings towards the suns page 3 became more personal. I compared myself to this picture and having no other pictures of what naked women are supposed to look like to refer to I judged myself in light of it. I grew to hate my body, I grew to hate myself. I was not what a woman was supposed to look like. This was what women are supposed to look like. Even my dad has sanctioned this opinion by buying this paper and bringing it home. Being mixed raced and ‘normal’ sized with relatively average breast size I was unattractive and worthless. My mum for being black was worthless. I was not white, I was not a size 10, I was not a d cup. I hated myself. I hated my dad for making me feel like this. Worst of all I was embarrassed of my self loathing. I told no one.
One would hope that growing older I grew wiser, but actually I have found that the images of female beauty have become more and more narrow and the slimy unexplainable feeling of degradation and humiliation I feel when faced with images like page 3 is constant, on every music channel in every tv show on every movie billboard and website. And its still there just under the cover of the sun, so that society can condone it, publicly endorse it just like my dad has done my whole life by bringing it home, and keeps me embarrassed to feel like this, keeps me silent and hating every inch of me.
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 at a Christian festival over the summer and while I was there I attended a seminar on porn. As part of the seminar, a man who had been formerly addicted to porn told us his story. His story began with a description of how as a nine year old boy he had, along with his friends, spent his free time collecting The Sun out of park bins and compiling the Page 3 pictures. He said that he didn’t know what he was doing at the time but this was where he believed his porn addiction started. Over the coming years he watched porn on TV and on the internet compulsively. He eventually sought help and is now porn free but his addiction caused enormous hurt to his wife and he still struggles with his view of women.
My grandparents read the Sun newspaper and I could never reconcile them and the topless girls on page 3. Growing up in the 90s my sister and I were exposed to it whenever we used newspaper for crafts, made a bonfire, etc. It did not even have to be open at page 3, just the sight of the Sun you knew there was ‘sex’ inside. This was what a girl was. And so just sitting in the front room with my grandparents and Dad was this elephant in the room – the Sun newspaper, sex.
I’m not sure if this shaped the way I thought later, but I did keep my Dad at an emotional arms length, and sought out child abuse and rape stories in my Mum’s women’s magazines. It was not healthy attitude. For the sake of others, and not just girls but all society, its time that page 3 reflected a more equal and healthy, balanced society.
I was born in 1993, and growing up as a little girl my Grandfather used to read the sun. He would just leave it lying around and of course I would come to see page 3. It’s one of my earliest memories and I believe that extremely early introduction to sexualisation had a huge influence in my relaxed and submissive ideas of sex. I lost my virginity at 13, thinking that was what I was meant to do to keep my first ever boyfriend happy. By the time I was 17 I fell pregnant I was planning to go to university so I had to have an abortion. It ruined my mental and physical health and I tried to commit suicide a number of times. I’m now a lot better and although I fully accept accountability for my own actions, as a grown woman I now realise that taking in the submissive behaviour of the page 3 girls inadvertently caused me such early sexualisation and a miserable childhood.
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.
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.
My story (1)
When I was 4 yrs old, barely knowing what “newspapers” were, I found out what was on Page 3. I *never* liked my grandad after that, especially after I asked my grandmother and mother about the woman not wearing any clothes and why she was in something of Grandad’s. I still have no recollection of what either of them actually said in response, but I vividly remember the empathic feelings I felt as a 4 yr old doing as a 4 yr old does and watching their reactions including their body language very carefully.
It’s not what you say, it’s what you do after all. I remember I always felt awkward getting pocket money from him after that. I can’t tell you why. It felt like I was taking money from a bad man, a bad man who hurt mummy and grandma. So you could say it completely wrecked any relationship my grandfather could have hoped to have had with his grand-daughter. But growing up I also saw that my instincts in response to that occasion were more keen than I’d like because as I got older, I realised he really did treat my grandmother especially like she was only good for doing chores and looking after him.