The issue of rape culture
I believe the accusations of NMP3 of which the display of big-boobed women within the Sun newspaper is encouraging a rape culture to engulf Britain, to be wholly exaggerated. I believe slow police intervention of rape cases and vulnerable women at risk of domestic violence is more to blame for this. I believe the refusal of Sheffield United to make a statement in ruling out a return of their former star player Ched Evans (convicted of raping a woman in a hotel room in his hometown of Rhyl) to their club, is another one contributing to rape culture.
When people speak about “rape culture”, I believe it appears to be referring to a mid-20th century ideal, where men controlled women due to their status of bread winners, everyone still attended church and the onset of immigration from the Caribbean and Asia caused major political worries for the British public. There was huge xenophobia, especially due to the worldwide segregation caused by two World Wars earlier in the century. The progression of developing rights for women had slowed since the victory of the Suffragettes in winning the right to vote and Britain was merely concentrated on recovering its economy.
“Rape culture” refers to a time where domestic cases were private matters (therefore had no concerns for the legal system), women were restricted to menial work such as stitching, household chores and childcare and parliament was still heavily dominated by men. The 1950’s is often romanticised in today’s popular culture as nostalgia, but it was a time women had no right to speak up about what was facing them in Britain. Therefore, if a woman had been raped, she had to provide evidence of extreme physical violence having accompanied such an attempt. It was only until 1956 Sexual Offences Act was enacted, where an attempt to commit rape was punishable by a prison sentence of a maximum of seven years under English law.
The issue of body positivism
I believe their accusation that Page 3 imagery makes women feel more insecure about their bodies is false; gossip magazines such OK!, Closer and Heat contribute far more to scrutiny of female bodies, often displaying images of flopping bellies, bumps and scars on celebrities such as Gemma Collins, Vicky Pattison and Sinead O’Connor. Furthermore, celebrities such as Vicky Pattison contribute even further to the insecurities of women by releasing a “Vicky Pattison’s 7 Day Slim” home workout DVD four months after her “fat” photos are released in publications- creating an illusion of unrealistic expectations for women. Celebrities often use dietary supplements and liposuction to remove their excess weight to aid their weight loss, so they are able to carry out their marketing campaigns for weight loss successfully. Not only do ordinary women on average salaries (£20k per annum) struggle to find funds for the dietary supplements and liposuction that is actually required to assist such incredible weight loss, but the Page 3 models that some believe to be well paid* (£100+k per annum) can’t afford such assistance either.
The Page 3 models have to follow a healthy and balanced diet, where indulgence of comfort foods is openly admitted, but they only consume it moderately. By allowing room for their desires carefully, they are better role models, than celebrities and catwalk models, in terms of body positivism for women. The wide range of body shapes that appear on Page 3; curvy in the form of Lucy Collett, Holly Peers and Lacey Banghard, and slender in the form of Rosie Jones, Mel Clarke and Rhian Sugden provide a balance in the range of imagery that this publication provides.
*Glamour models receive an average of £10k per annum for their modelling shoots
The issue of sexism and the significance of Page 3 in 2014
NMP3 appeared due to Lucy-Anne Holmes’ outcry in August 2012, after feeling bemused to see a topless girl instead of a news article about Jessica Ennis’ heptathlon gold in the London Olympics. Before the launch of the campaign, Page 3 had been declining in popularity and it had been rumoured about its possible termination as a feature in the Sun newspaper. However, the appearance of NMP3 campaign has sparked a sudden renewal of interest from those who had temporarily lost interest in the glamour industry. From a personal perspective, I had never even cared one bit about Page 3 and their models before NMP3 appeared. I had actually been blissfully unaware that one of my former favourite models, Vikki Blows (who has since retired), used to appear in Page 3 for four years! (I had only been interested in Front Magazine before then). In the most ironic sense, NMP3 has given more significance to Page 3 that it probably grants in 2014, mostly due to rearguard backlash to their tactics of attempting to deter men from Page 3 imagery, but also providing a platform for those women desperate to speak about their tales of sexism- a lot of it being true, but their attempts to tackle such issues remaining unsolved due to the campaign’s refusal to confront the men who commit such behaviour directly.
To reiterate this, Russell Brand’s backing of their campaign earlier this year was not the rhetoric they needed. His quote of backing their campaign for “the love of a good woman” left itself liable to being construed as sexist. It is the type of sexist thing men might say, “She’s a good woman if she irons my clothes, does all the cleaning, all the cooking, helping the kids, mowing the lawn and scrubbing the house, so I can do nothing when I return home from work!”. Russell Brand’s announcement as a supporter of the NMP3 was accompanied by the sight of him hold the NMP3 shirt- not wearing the shirt over his body- just merely holding it in his hands. In a metaphorical sense, the patriarchy (Russell Brand in this scenario) was exercising its power over the matriarchy:
“Yes, I can appear to be supporting your campaign by holding your shirt, but you cannot force me to wear the shirt because of how much you value my celebrity status. Without me lending superficial, but not spiritual, support, your campaign would lose its much need publicity and the attraction of many impressionable girls too young to remember my rape hoax stage act!”
His renouncement of sexism was rather perfectly timed for his appearance, despite being so blatantly sexist just six months ago on the MSNBC show. Brand’s backing of NMP3 was also fueled by his long-term feud with The Sun, who he later won libel damage charges against. In truth, NMP3 has also stirred support by specifically targeting The Sun newspaper, conveniently ignoring the Daily Star newspaper who also feature Page 3 nude shoots, in attempt to hurt Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp empire. Their campaign has given the British public a small opportunity to seek revenge for the damage News Corp caused in the phone hacking trial, to avenge the mental distress of the families of dead soldiers and murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. However, it is my firm belief something far more monumental and economically impacting than the removal of Page 3 from the Sun, will be required to tear down the News Corp. It will almost certainly require massive legal fees hitting eight figures in sterling to achieve this particular aim.
I am dumbstruck by their view that removing boobs out of a newspaper will somehow automatically make sexist men develop more respect to them gradually. Their campaign, ironically, is actually making those particular men respect them less; these men are pouring derision upon their campaign, especially concerning their tactics. These include asking phone company O2 to censor Page 3 images on their network and asking their supporters to photograph men (but not women) viewing Page 3 on trains.
The issue of inconsistent aims of NMP3 and preaching slander of through social media
The contradictions of their campaign are alarming to say the least. They prefer to defend themselves when someone questions why want Page 3 banned from the Sun newspaper by saying, “We’re not asking for a ban, we’re asking the Sun to remove these images,” as if they would be able to attract more supporters by appearing courteous. It appears they are keen on using terminology that makes them appear less threatening and more morally upright than their opposition, but secretly pour scorn on the world of glamour modelling when I have caught them saying, “I don’t think any parents would want their daughter [to appear nude in a tabloid newspaper].” *
*There is no print screen of Twitter messages to avoid disclosing identities external of NMP3 for legal reasons
They also speak of poorly represented racial demographics of Page 3, smearing it as overwhelmingly white. Out of the current thirteen girls who appear on the Sun’s Page 3, three are of them are ethnic minorities: Lacey Banghard (half-Indian, half-English), Courtnie Quinlan (half-Caribbean, half-English) and Sabine Jemeljanova (Latvian).
Furthermore, the lack of scientific evidence behind claims through their most recent campaign video- that accidental glimpses of Page 3 on trains is the equivalent of second hand smoke- is completely implausible.
To worsen matters, many who have given their signatures are disgusted by the language and behaviour of their supporters on social media and have asked for their names to revoked from the NMP3’s change.org campaign list.
To worsen matters, there has been no signs of the NMP3 campaign team to restrain abusive or bullying tactics against those who oppose their campaign, such as Natasha Devon.
There are questions over how NMP3 aim to achieve equality and enlightenment for women. They have stated wishes to achieve the following without any coherent or solid underlying plans or objectives:
- Eliminating sexist comments towards women
- Equality of pay and treatment for women in the workplace
- Improved police responses to phone calls from women being threatened with violence or rape
- Improving the attitudes of men towards women (rather than merely forcing them to lend their signatures as superficial sign of their efforts to eradicate sexism)
- Developing assertiveness for women towards aggressive male behaviour
- Constructive criticism of the Page 3’s CoppaFeel “Check-Em Tuesday” campaign (where is their “less-sexist” approach to raising awareness to lumps signalling breast cancer?)
- Improvement of body positivism (so all women feel comfortable and at one with their own body appearance)
- Provide a culturally sensitive solution to female genital mutilation
- Questioning whether pornography actually affects the sexual attitudes of adults and teenagers, taking the “sitting on the fence” approach towards it instead. This is an industry which many NMP3 campaigners confuse with the glamour industry
- And of course removing Page 3 from the Sun newspaper (the editor David Dinsmore is defiant to back down and appease their wishes)
Why I believe Page 3 actually helps women in the blight of rape culture
As strange as it may sound, the Page 3 models have to deal with the British public taking a patronising view upon them. On social media, abuse of models is commonplace but they do not back down and apologise for their line of work. Some may feel they should do, but I believe that by doing so, they would be backing down to the patriarchal ideals of a “rape culture” I had earlier described, such as these:
You are my woman, you shall do what I say
If you are a woman who smokes, drinks and parties, you are the work of Satan
If you are a woman who swears, makes intellectual arguments and says “No” to the orders of a male, you are a dangerous bitch
If you are a woman who has sex freely with whom you want, you are a promiscious whore
If you are a woman who refuses to have children, you have failed in your role as a woman
If you are a woman who strips nude to be photographed, you deserved to be vilified by everyone who lays eyes upon you.
In the 21st century, what may have been appropriate by the standards of the 1950’s applies no more today.
What cannot be allowed anyone in today’s world is persistent misinformation and the spreading of lies and rumours to take over what is the truth.
If a woman decides to release imagery of her bare nipples to the eyes of the public, she is doing so for the carefree fantasies of the consumers who may buy the publication they appear in.
Despite the concerns that Page 3 leads to young boys eventually becoming addicted to hardcore pornography when they become adults, such concerns must be disregarded; the responsibility of young boys to consume pornography healthily must be taught by parents. Similarly, these young boys must learn to accept realistic expectations towards sex and respecting females: their desires, their feelings and their views towards sex, love and pornography. Page 3, in this regard, has little to do with the sexual conditioning of young boys when sex education is taught and applied properly.
A woman who appears on Page 3 is showing defiance towards the misogyny that the rape culture has brought upon Britain since its inauguration in 1066.
Yes, I am a woman exposing my breasts for the public to see. I am not a whore, a victim of the patriarchy or a slanderer of my own gender’s position within society; I am a beautiful woman promoting a positive, healthy image on a publication that says “No” to fake boobs, photographic airbrushing or suggestive poses such as covering my hands over my genitals or pulling my breasts to arouse viewers.