Page 3 is a very British Institution. Six days of the week opening the first page of a national newspaper involves looking straight at the bare breasts of a young woman, surrounded by commentary on key issues of the day or frivolous “also ran” stories. It’s been running in The Sun newspaper for more years than I’ve been on this Earth has become a much loved, much ridiculed, much vilified feature of our daily lives.
My own feelings towards Page 3 are mixed. On the one hand I can see how including an image of a naked woman that has nothing to do with the news around it objectifies her. On the other she is a beacon against our prudish Victorian-esque values that says the masses should not be exposed to nudity or the concept of a woman as an attractive sight to gaze longingly upon.
As a young boy passing into a somewhat unpleasant puberty I don’t mind admitting Page 3 helped me in some small way. I bought The Sun purely for the nudity that wasn’t accessible to a 13 year old lad with raging hormones in any other way. I discovered what a naked woman looked like, not from a biology book, and that women came in all sorts of shapes and sizes. What I found attractive in a woman at that stage was shaped in some way by my crush on Samantha Fox (it was either her or Linda Lusardi at my school!) And yes, I also read the damned thing and discovered “news”!
For that I am grateful.
Yet I also see the men on the train who gaze over the naked form for perhaps a little too long and a little too longingly. I see the women who look at the image and make subconscious judgments about the model that are writ large across their face. I also see those who open Page 3 and quickly move on either out of disgust or embarrassment that those around them might think they (shock horror) find young naked women attractive.
I understand too the objectification argument, although I sometimes wonder if it is stated a little naively. The way the models are presented can be a little cold and it certainly lacks context. I also have sympathy with those who feel uncomfortable being around these images, or who feel in some way that a Page 3 model has created an impossible ideal body that they will fail to live up to.
For me banning Page 3 isn’t the answer, and not because it’s an institution, feminists have gone too far or any of the other “reasons” thrown at it. I don’t want to see it banned because the naked body isn’t something we should be ashamed of. There are no other mainstream outlets where we can say as a society “this is where nudity is expected and acceptable”.
That places a huge responsibility on the editorial team at The Sun. They need to strike the balance between celebration of nudity and explicit objectification. How they do this I do not have an answer for. It might be as simple as having models who are older or have different body shapes. Perhaps they should allow the models to “edit” Page 3 and include stories that matter to them to show they’re real people and not just sex objects.
I don’t have answers. What I can say is that handled with sensitivity I see no reason why a semi-naked female (or a sexually attractive male) cannot feature in a mainstream news publication.
Tagged: Fetish Lifestyle
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