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.
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.
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 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 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.
I had a breast enlargement when I was 19 which I really regret now. Looking back I know now that I wasn’t small, I was a B cup and it suited my frame but I was obsessed with them being too small and ugly. The boys at school were constantly bringing in clippings from the sun and sport of topless girls and that was my only reference point for the naked female body and I didn’t look like that. I felt ashamed, boys would try to grab me or ask me about my breasts and I would go bright red, knowing that they knew I wasn’t big breasted and I was being taken the mick out of. I used to stuff my bra with socks, all my friends did too, we all grew up with the only boobs we ever saw being porno boobs. We all felt like ugly aliens and not normal. Another of my friends has also had a boob job, I think the rest of my friends would get them too if they could afford it. My breast enlargement had complications and I had to have corrective surgery twice in two years, I have bigger breasts now but lots of scars and my confidence hasn’t changed. Growing up a bit I have realised that women do not look like page 3 girls in real life, that my body was completely normal for a teenage girl, but I think it might be too late and the damage is already done. I am angry at myself for putting myself in such a dangerous and life threatening position and getting surgery because of something as stupid as seeing page 3 pictures everyday at school and not wanting a boy to look at me and be disappointed when I didn’t look like that. Now when I say to people that I have had a boob job they look at me like I’m a shallow bimbo, I’m not shallow at all, I feel like I was indoctrinated as a teen to feel unhappy with my body against my will and that my personality wasn’t strong enough and my self esteem wasn’t strong enough to resist what seemed like the only solution. I wish I had never had it done now. But I know that if I hadn’t I would still be as tortured as I did back then. I feel like it is a no win situation.
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.