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.
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”.
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.
I am 13 and a strong supporter of the No More Page 3 campaign. The issue is very important to me, and last month, i organised what i advertised as a protest, although it was not really because only four people turned up. Anyway, we stood outside tesco handing out flyers and badges, and holding signs. Overall it was a really good experience but there were a few incidents that i wanted to tell you about. Firstly an old man came up to me and asked me why i was doing this. I told him straight, that it shouldn’t be in a newspaper and women are not sex objects, but he kept going on a bout how is was ‘good and natural’ and ‘titillation for the soul’ (these are actually phrases he used). Eventually after about ten minutes of interupting me, not listening to my points and insisting it was normal, my mum intervened and asked him to go. However he did offer both me and my mum a postcard with his business details on the back, the cartoony sort of women at the beach with a sexist remark, and we both declined in disgust. The other incident is for a period of time we were outside tesco, there was a group of boys, who i recognised from the year above me hanging around. When they worked out what we were protesting about, one of them went into tesco, bought a copy of the sun, and walked up and down past us, clearly displaying page 3 to make us uncomfortable. This made me feel sick and angry, as i could not think of anything to say or do about it. I was forced to witness the very thing i was protesting about. I am fed up of this attitude, that women and girls are only seen for their sexual side, and not as thinking, individual human beings. It’s something i see everyday at school, the boys who will only go out with girls if they look good and are ‘not frigid’. And i see what it does to the girls, wearing heaps of make up, never standing up to the boys. I have been called frigid, whilst being in a relationship, for saying “I don’t want to tell you” or “none of your business” when people have asked me questions like “how far have you gone”. I want this to change, i want girls to feel confident being who they are, being strong-willed and i want NO MORE PAGE THREE.
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.
In the local newsagents, just a few weeks ago an old man was standing with his hands in his trouser pockets ‘fiddling’ he had The Sun open at page 3 on the shelf in front of him, I was with my 4 year old buying her a comic. We had to leave without the comic, she was upset, how do I explain that people are masturbating at the shelves and I don’t want to be near that with her? Why should I have to?
Page 3 has been the bane of my life. When I was 8 my mum began taking me to her friends house. While they were chatting I was told to go play the computer with her friends then 14year old son in his room. Her son would push numerous images of page 3 girls in my face ,which he keep under his bed, and I vividly remember him saying “look at her tits”, “I bet you wish you had tits like her maybe then boys will like you”. I was so uncomfortable I wanted to run away but when I went into the living room where my mum was she would tell me to go play the computer with her friends son. I was so embarrassed and confused about what was happening I couldn’t tell her and would always go back to the room – “to play the computer”.
When my breasts grew he began grabbing and touching them and pulling up my vest and top so he could look at them, despite my protests he continued to do this and said he would beat and rape me if I told anyone. He never went any further than that but I was so humiliated and frightened.
My high school years were also plagued by images of topless women in their pants, boys would deliberately scatter them around the school grounds and outside the gates, and because my breasts grew to be on the larger side I was continually being stared and pointed at, particularly when the images were all over the ground. I began wearing loose shirts and jumpers to school in an attempt to take attention away from my breasts – which worked in a way as from then on I got bullied more for being “fat” than having bigger breasts. However i still feel sick at the sight of a sun newspaper.
I began university recently and the sun newspaper is very rarely seen or spoke of on campus which is fab. I even stopped taking public transport and got my own car so I do not have to see people reading the sun and ogling the young girls on page 3. However i almost crashed into the car in front of me when a van driving on the other side of the road had old page 3 cut out of Jordan taped to their windscreen for all drivers to see. I had to pull over for a minute to compose myself and stop myself from crying.
I truly hope that page 3 comes to and end very soon so no other young girls or boys are effected by its negative influence.
I was 12 years old in 1975. I spent a lot of time at my friend’s house and her father was a Sun reader. One day, I was alone with him and his son. Suddenly, he grabbed his paper, waved Page 3 in my face and shouted ‘Look! Titties!’ Then they both fell about laughing. At the time I was a sensitive pre-pubescent, with no ‘titties’ of my own. I was so mortified that I ran all the way home. I’m not sure why he did such an unkind thing, but instinct tells me he wouldn’t have done the same with a pornographic magazine.
As a child growing up, The messages I learnt about sex from images like page 3 was that sex was all about turning on and pleasing men and the woman’s needs seem to be irrelevant. As I’ve grown up, I’ve come to realise how distorted and wrong this view is. Yet these images continue to deliver this message.