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.
-A.

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.

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.

When I was on the train the other day a young man,14 or 15 year old, picked up a copy of The Sun and began to open it. He quickly put his hand over page 3 in order to hide it and only took his hand away once he had turned the page…this just goes to show that even very young men find page 3 embarrassing and unnecessary.

Lesley, Glasgow

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.

Hannah, 22

From an early age, my developing body seemed to have currency, I got that message loud and clear from the patriarchal system we all grew up in. There was always a stir of sniggers in primary school art class when trashy tabloids with bare-breasted women were used to line the tables as we did painting and gluing, and at secondary school, boys gave me a nickname revolving around my breasts.

I worked in many male-dominated environments, and was often the sole female voice of dissent. At one company in SE London which built marine systems, I was surrounded by male engineers and warehouse workers. I think there was one female engineer, and a sparse scattering of women in the warehouse. Stereotypical images of submissive women would circulate, and whenever I saw them, I’d speak out vehemently and deface them. I’m quite artistic, so I improved them greatly and became well known for it. The men in my office weren’t all bad, and over time my feminism rubbed off on them somewhat..I’d ask them just why they were ogling girls young enough to be their granddaughters etc. One of them asked me why I was “so cynical for one so young”, and I told him I had my eyes open to the ways of the world, rather than being a mere fluffy decorative addition to the office. They came to respect me.
There were worse offenders, though. A chunky squat greasy man called Mick was the Chief Engineer, he’d been a power-lifter when he was young and still had the bulky neckless physique, plus a good few stones piled on top. He’d always been alright to my face, but then one day I had to deliver something to his office on the other side of the building. I opened the door, and my jaw hit the floor.. the whole room was wallpapered with page 3 and other grotty pornographic images. We’re not talking about one calendar, although that would’ve been bad enough, we’re talking about no space on any wall not covered with grot, like a lifer’s prison cell. He must’ve seen my face drop – more than that, he enjoyed it – it was clearly a ‘keep out’ sign for any woman having the audacity to enter his fetid lair. What better way to tell women engineers and other workers that they were out of their depth, out of their comfort zone, and should leave the jobs to the boys? Well, now I knew the source of the circulating sexual images of women..

I went back and told my bosses how revolted I was, how that should never be allowed in any workplace, and how he’d leered at me.. he was high up though, and I was a lowly contract worker, I had no idea who I’d complain to, or how. My feelings about him were soon cemented when, approaching him in the corridor with a work-based question, instead of answering it, he gazed at my facial piercing and blatantly asked “What else have you got pierced down there?” gesturing to my genitals. I gave him a mouthful of verbal abuse and left him in no doubt as to what I thought of him and his porn-addicted attitude towards women. I told everyone I knew at that company, hoping to name and shame him. I was 19, by the way, and he was about 50.

Since then, whenever anyone questions whether a love of page 3 porn images has a direct influence on men’s attitude towards real life women, or is just “harmless fun”, I recite this story. I was already enlightened even at that young age, I’d objected to it from the age of about 13, despite derision from boy mates, as I was one of the only girls wise enough to care and see the wider implications. That was all new to them. I thank my Mum for telling me stories of sexism she spoke out about in the workplace in the 1940s and 50s – she made me aware even as a young child that any touching, any reference to my body parts or sex life was wrong, no matter how high up the offender.

It’s no longer the 40s or 50s, the world ought to have moved on, naked and semi-naked images of women should not be appearing in daily rags.
Why is there even any debate?

Rachael, London

The place I encounter page 3 most of all is in my workplace. I am a nurse and when my patients come in for treatment they may be sitting for up to 3 or 4 hours so they often bring the newspaper to read.
Some Sun readers make a concerted effort to miss out that page, I assume they find it embarrassing to be seen looking at it, but others seem oblivious to it and sit with page 3 open. Sometimes even if patients are trying to cover page 3 the front page image can be equally as sexualised. There have been occasions where I am changing fluid bottles or checking cannulas and have the image right in my face. On one occasion the patient I was trying to canulate looked visibly uncomfortable because the man sitting next to him was holding page 3 open in both of your eye line. He seemed so embarrassed either for me, himself or both. I don’t think that is fair.
For a long time I used to laugh off the image when I saw it. Patients sometimes left the paper for us and I would open it on that page as if to confront it and laugh at it or laugh at news in briefs, I think to try and disarm the image. But now I have been given the space and ammunition from the No more Page 3 campaign I can see these experiences for what they were and still are – completely inappropriate sexual harassment in my work place. Not from the patients who have bought the paper in necessarily but from the paper itself and the editorial team who have chosen to incorporate sexualised and belittling images of women in something as mainstream as a newspaper. Ensuring that pictures that would not be allowed on the walls of any work place, hospital or cafĂ© can still reach us there, can reach us wherever we go. So that wherever we are, no matter how professional we might be expected to be, we are still reduced instantly to exposed sexual objects for consumption.
When I see it I feel a little disarmed, a little less like a knowledgeable professional, a little sullied and exposed but most of all I feel reminded that this society in which I live and work wants to keep me and all women in our place. This society is quite happy to make me feel like this any time it likes. This society is sexist.

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 was a bit of an early developer, and it was bad enough having my painful heavy developing breasts ‘accidentally’ nudged by teenage boys in the lunch queue, or ogled openly in P.E.; but what really did it for me was a comment made when I was going to a Football match on a supporters coach with a friend and her Grandfather. As it was a warm day I wasn’t dressed in my usual grungy teenage attire of jeans and a loose jumper, but rather a jeans and a team shirt. My friends grandfather said to me as I stepped on the coach, ‘look at the boobs on you’ ‘they’re good enough for page 3′. I was 14.

It was bad enough that there was an audience of mainly young men laughing, but that my supposed guardian on the trip behaved in this way, was truly shocking and hurtful. Also a horrible realisation that may now be viewed in this way, I was not me, not a person with thoughts and feelings, merely an object for titilation and sexual gratification.

That was the last football trip I ever took with my now ex friend.

As an adult I am proud to put my name to this cause.

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.