The success of the No More Page 3 campaign continues with the petition having crossed the 40,000 signature milestone last night.
The organisers have now drafted a letter to the Sun editor Dominic Mohan for MPs to sign.
Dear Dominic Mohan,
We write to lend our support to the No More Page 3 Campaign. As MPs our role is to serve the people, and we cannot remain silent in the presence of a page that limits and misrepresents over half the population.
The largest female image in our most widely-read newspaper is of a semi-naked young woman. She is there purely for the sexual gratification of men. This is unacceptable.We want to live in a society where the most widely-read newspaper is one that respects women. Instead, publishes Page 3, which reduces women to objects. It reduces men to objectifiers. And it reduces this country to one that upholds 1970s sexist values.
We’re better than this.
Please remove these damaging pictures from your newspaper.
Credit where it’s due, I am chuffed that my local Labour MP Graeme Morrice has signed.
Liberal Democrats Mike Crockart and Lynne Featherstone have also added their names. Mike did so via Twitter last night, calling the feature an “indefensible anachronism.”
That leaves 55 Liberal Democrat MPs, not to mention AMs, MSPs, GLAMs and MEPs who may not have heard of this yet – so over to you to persuade them if you agree this is a good idea.
I realise that many of you will have had better things to do on a Friday night, but on Newsnight, Harriet Harman debated the issue with Neil Wallis, a former deputy editor of the Sun. Talking about indefensible anachronisms, he basically said that there were plenty real women out there who supported page 3. What does that make Harriet, I and its many opponents then?
Caroline Criado-Perez has written an article for the Huffington Post which outlines the abuse that women who oppose Page 3 have taken:
The most common tactic deployed by those who disagree with the campaign is to try to undermine the position from which we object. This takes a number of forms, the most regular being to suggest that we speak from a position of “envy”, “jealousy” and “insecurity”. We are “bitter”, “self-obsessed”, “pitying” and, strangely, “vain”, because we are “ugly”, “flat-chested”, “older”, “less pert”, and, almost inevitably, “lesbians”. These attacks on our looks are closely followed by comments which dismiss our arguments and evidence as “nagging”, “whining” and “moaning” – undermining tactics which are linked with the next most popular approach, which is to call us “immature”, “pathetic”, “little girls” and patronise us by addressing us as “dear”.
She also points to a 2009 study which suggests that there could be a link between things like Page 3 and domestic violence.
Furthermore, while a direct causal link is impossible to prove until we have complete transcripts of everyone’s brains, charities that specialize in domestic violence, such as The Freedom Programme and End Violence Against Women (EVAW) both consider the objectification of women in the media to be a considerable contributory factor towards violence against women. They cite a number of independent investigations, one of the most compelling being a 2009 Princeton study which scanned the brains of heterosexual men looking at sexualized images of women in bikinis. The areas of their brains that lit up were those that light up when we anticipate using tools; these women were responded to as objects to be used. Small wonder then, that the American Psychological Association cites a range of studies demonstrating that when people view media that portrays women as sex objects, they become significantly more accepting of sexual harassment and interpersonal violence.
Last week, my article asking politely that men don’t read their pornography in the public space, which was republished on the New Statesman, attracted some pretty insulting comments. Even when I put it up on Facebook, I was called bonkers, militant and a moron – by Liberal Democrats, for goodness sake. The abuse I’ve taken over this issue makes the cybernats look like a bunch of cuddly teddy bears.
The point that was made time and time again was that women read 50 Shades of Grey, so why is it a problem. Really? There are all sorts of novels, from Jackie Collins to the Stieg Larsson trilogy which outline some pretty graphic and often abusive sexual encounters. The thing is, if someone’s reading them on in public all you can see is words on a page. From a distance, this blog post looks exactly the same as a page from Mark Pack and Ed Maxfield’s book, 101 ways to win an election. You can’t tell what’s being read.
However, if I filled the entire space with a picture of an almost completely nude woman, you’d be able to see it a long way away. Why shouldn’t I ask people to be a bit more considerate about what they do in the public space?
If you agree with the No to Page 3 campaign and haven’t yet signed the petition, please do so here. I was taken by something Mike Crockart said on Twitter this morning – that for his No to Nuisance Calls campaign, 7000 signed up from a newspaper cutting, while 5000 signed up online. I wonder if the next step is to get paper copies into coffee mornings, workplaces or whatever. Maybe person to person contact would have even more success. 40,000 online signatures in 3 weeks is pretty outstanding, but by getting out there into our communities and asking people we know, our colleagues, friends and families, we will inevitably reach more people.