So. The Sun has dropped, or sort of dropped, Page 3 in it’s current incarnation, and feminists everywhere are either rejoicing or snarking.
I have seen so much snark last night and today. I like snark and am a champion of throwing shade, it’s kind of fun and most of us deserve it at some point.
But when all feminist debate is centred around being sarcy enough to score points on Twitter, it gets a bit daft and no good comes of it.
Particularly as a) actual debate is good for feminism, and b) it’s of course perfectly understandable that some people have concerns about the campaign and that some people want to voice those.
I got GMB trade union to back the No More Page 3 campaign, and I and the NUJ reps in my workplace also had The Sun removed from our break areas after our members complained. So I’ve obviously got thoughts and opinions on this, and here they are, in the spirit of trying to be sensible and balanced and not throwing shade.
1. This has nothing to do with class, at least not in the way that everyone seems to think it does.
I want to make this really clear. Page 3 and The Sun are not staples of the big homogenous blob of working-class culture that some people like to paint a picture of. A lot of working-class people read The Sun, some working-class people like Page 3. A lot of working-class people – myself, my Mum, my Dad, my brother, my mates, my union, almost everyone I’ve ever met from Liverpool- hate the paper and everything it stands for and think Page 3 is outdated and laughable at best, and demeaning and dangerous at it’s worst. Stop telling me what my council house means I think, pls. And value the working class enough to recognise that we would like a say in the media we consume along with the rest of you.
2. Murdoch has never caved into anything that I can remember. We should be celebrating this even if we don’t celebrate anything else.
That, basically. We talk about the press being made accountable and this is an excellent example of how we can make them accountable. They have listened to a huge campaign and responded to it. Throughout the campaign, people kept asking why it was only focusing of one page of one paper. This decision sets a precedent for editors starting to think about what’s on all the other pages of all the other papers, on all the frames of all the TV shows. It shows that the public don’t like sexism in the media and that the media can recognise this and change. It’s not just sexism that this calls into question either. If the media can listen to us about representations of women then it can also listen to us about representation of black people, LGBTQ people, disabled people, people on benefits…
3. Despite all the accusations, No More Page 3 has some of the most inclusive methods of campaigning I’ve seen
No More Page 3 have been one of the very few parts of mainstream feminism which has actively sought out union backing and which has given us a bit of solidarity. They have kept themselves open to lots of view points all the way through this. I’ve been in union meetings where NMP3 activists and sex workers (I won’t name, as I’ve no idea about their stances on internet anonymity) have had a sensible and open debate about the campaign, and I’ve seen NMP3 activists take on board concerns and explain their position – and I’ve seen that being understood by the people they were talking to. This is a stance sorely lacking elsewhere in feminism.
Members of the campaigns range from schoolgirls to older women, all of who have an equal voice and all of who are given the freedom and respect to “step up” and take on responsibility. So many young women or women with no experience of activism will come away from this knowing how to run their own campaigns on things they believe in. If they use these skills, we’ll be better for it – our campaigning will be more inclusive, value activists instead of figureheads and tie up with other movements.
4. This doesn’t mean that the concerns of some sex workers, glamour models or some of those in the adult entertainment industry are all bullshit
Feminism has a long way to go until its a movement which gives their voices equal footing. And when figureheads of mainstream feminism (not NMP3 women) can casually refer to their sisters in the sex industry as “orifices” without seeing why that dehumanises them, it’s absolutely no wonder at all that a few people have always viewed No More Page 3 with a furrowed brow.
Sex workers are not responsible for violence against women or sexism in the media and personally, despite thinking just about everyone I’ve met from NMP3 is fantastic, I can see how the campaign hasn’t helped lessen the stigma against an already maligned group of women. Stating more strongly their support for sex workers’ rights, their support of the models and condeming supporters who tweeted derogatory comments about the models would have been a fair move from the campaign – and who knows, I was only involved in it on the peripheries, maybe they did and have done those things, it wouldn’t surprise me.
As for my own opinion on this issue, I hope and do think it’s perfectly possible to dislike the sexism of Page 3 as well as support sex workers’ rights, which I do.
5. Nor does it mean that The Sun is now not sexist.
No More Page 3 themselves are not viewing this as an absolute victory. “Clearly this is still not equality, and there’s definitely lots more to be done,” is part of their press statement this morning. I think this proves that they were never just about nipples, but about how women were portrayed by the most successful newspaper in the country: as nothing more than sex objects.