With the announcement of the glorious victory of the No More Page 3 campaign comes the inevitable backlash from the liberal media bemoaning the loss of freedom such ‘censorship’ involves. Whilst purporting to be anti- page 3 themselves, journalists and commentators crawl out of the woodwork to fret about the implications such a move may have for democracy and the future of the nation. Liberal hand-wringing aside, exactly how a sensible decision made by a newspaper’s own editor could constitute censorship, is beyond me.
NMP3 has received well deserved praise for its success and is held up by UK Feminista as an example of how to run an effective campaign. NMP3 achieved something that few feminist campaigns are able to do: they broke through to the mainstream. Critics may be keen to characterise those behind NMP3 as a bunch of ‘comfy shoe-wearing, no bra-wearing, man-haters‘ but the petition gained more than 200,000 signatories and has the backing of many prominent celebrities, MPs, and Universities; and doesn’t so far seem to have involved the burning of any bras. The success of the campaign was in its simplicity, it wasn’t arguing for boobs to be banned from public life completely, just that ‘a family newspaper is the wrong context for these images’. It’s about time that women were in the news for their achievements rather than their assets, and the campaign highlighted this inequality in representation by producing a game changing video that showed just that. What happens when you cut out all the images of women in the Sun and juxtapose them with the men? A sea of naked female flesh in direct contrast with an army of footballers and a legion of besuited and booted purposeful looking dudes, that’s what.
The victory of NMP3 is not only a victory for all of us who signed the petition, but it is a victory for feminism in general. It represents the moment when feminism became fashionable. The V &A Museum featured the iconic campaign T shirt in an exhibition and the stereotype of the hairy man hater has been smashed for ever more by the hundreds of tweets showing ordinary people wearing it. The people that are opposed to Page 3 are normal people who just want women to be taken seriously. Men and women who think that women are more than their nipples, and that sometimes it might be worth reporting on the things that they actually do rather than just ogling at the boobs they happen to possess.
NMP3 may have won the battle, but there is still a war to be had. This campaign was about more than just boobs, and despite the fact that there are no more naked breasts on Page 3, the paper has shown little sign that they will be replacing it with a significantly better approach to the representation of women. There are fresh criticisms of the new Page 3 format which now seems to feature ‘candid’ shots of celebrities – hardly a great improvement. This doesn’t mean that the NMP3 campaign has failed however, only that there is still work to be done. The huge public support that NMP3 has galvanised needs to be harnessed and fed into a new campaign that continues to address the ongoing inequality perpetuated by the ubiquitous media representation of women as passive sexualised objects.
The insensitive comparisons of the end of page 3 to the tragic Charlie Hebdo attack are crass and utterly ridiculous. Rupert Murdoch has finally woken up to the fact that he no longer lives in the 70s and seems to have actually responded to public opinion. This is not censorship my friend, it is simply the power of the market. The whining about censorship and loss of freedom is a transparent attempt to insist that a man’s right to look at naked breasts should come before a woman’s right to be taken seriously as a human being. If Murdoch had been forced to pull Page 3 by the government or even as a response to serious threats of violence, then perhaps there would be some meat to this argument; but nothing like this is happening here. Newspapers and magazines respond to public opinion all the time and I for one am delighted that Page 3 has finally been consigned to the dustbin of history where it belongs.