My son and his BFF have a bit of a habit at the moment. They’ll start shouting out “willy! boobies!” because they think it’s hysterical
And hey, let’s face it, boobies are brilliant. I feel in an excellent position to affirm this, since mine have given me back ache my entire life. They’ve nourished my son and made my tops look better for ages. Yay for boobies!
Let’s consider the Sun for a while. We read this family picture, and see page after page depicting men in power, men achieving things – men in trouble too – but lots of men. And the single biggest image of a female?
Yup. It’s on page three, and it’s a young lady, showing her breasts off.
And I’m sure her breasts are wonderful and all that – as a straight female, I’m probably not the target audience – I suspect, as a woman, she’s capable of a lot more than that. And yet we’re sending generations of both men and women the message that this is what the women are about. What happens when the Sun, which it has done recently, runs one of it’s excellent stories on Domestic Violence or Rape? That’s it – it get gets overpowered by page 3, which screams the message, “shut up girls, and get your tits out”.
If you think I’m being over the top read this story from a young lass called Sam…..
I got breasts at 10, that’s the final year of junior school, while you’re all still changing for PE with girls and boys together in the cloakroom. I was the 10 year old in a B cup bra. My name is Sam, and the favourite and most famous Page 3 girl of the time was Sam Fox. You can probably imagine the comments. Boys made giggling taunts about ‘Page 3′ as I changed for PE and lecherous fathers leered at me as I passed the school gates making remarks like “you could be on Page 3 too, with those”. Like it was all I could aspire to, all I was good for. Men would make comments as I walked home from school, some even yelled crude suggestions from their cars. Let me reiterate: I was 10.
It was as if developing breasts was the universal indicator to the Sun-reading public that I was ‘up for it’ regardless of my chronological or emotional age, or my actual somewhat confused understanding of what sex was.
That was certainly the view of my grandfather who began abusing me at this age. Beginning with my breasts, because they were “just as good as Page 3, and look, that girl isn’t making a fuss about showing them off” and she wasn’t, was she? And it felt like everyone thought that my breasts should be showed off like that, because they were all saying the same thing. The wider context of my experiences in school and at the school gates, being brought up with Page 3 at the breakfast table every morning, it all seemed to confirm what my grandfather was saying. I had breasts and he had a right to see them, play with them and eventually invade the rest of my body, because, it seemed obvious from the attitudes around me, by growing breasts I was now ‘ready’, it was, my grandfather explained, a sign I was a ‘big girl’ now. It didn’t matter that I was still hairless, hipless, and hadn’t begun menstruating, it didn’t matter that I was only just past my 11th birthday by then. I had breasts and I was expected to have sex, and I was expected to like it, and not tell anyone, because that was how it worked, the Page 3 girl doesn’t say anything. My grandfather abused me for about 3-4 years, less towards the end as he became less agile and I got better at escaping him, and when he died I cried with relief. I tried all sorts of things to stop him and one of those was putting on weight. I felt that if I got really fat and unattractive he and all men would leave me alone. In The Sun, they were always very nasty about women they considered fat and unattractive and I thought that would be safer. It was and it wasn’t. My bust was always bigger, out of proportion with the rest of me, so men would insult and grope me at the same time. Like the uninvited groping isn’t insulting enough. I couldn’t win.
Please don’t ever tell me that Page 3 is just a piece of ‘harmless fun’: Page 3 groomed me. It prepared me for my grandfather’s abuse. It and the attitudes it engendered in the children and adults around me prepared the way for a 72 year old to force an 11 year old to have sex with him and convince her that this was ‘normal big girl stuff’. A national newspaper that everyone I knew read – all the adults who I had to respect and obey – this newspaper made by people so far above me, so gilded in authority to my child’s mind, had given an example of what women with big breasts were supposed to be like and everyone seemed to agree that I had to be like that. Page 3 was my grandfather’s authority and evidence: “Look at her, she isn’t crying, she isn’t making a fuss, this is how big girls should behave, it wouldn’t be in the paper if it weren’t true”.
To get involved in the campaign against Page three – visit http://nomorepage3.org/