So, today feminism had a victory. We can all give up and go home now. We can pack away our dungarees, shave our legs and start liking men again. We’ve won. Page 3 is no more. Or rather, the nipples on page 3 are no more. Obviously you can still see a woman in a skimpy bikini and there are actual bare nipples on the online version of the paper, but there’s no longer any chance that an unsuspecting man, in search of some decent Ukipper news to read, might suddenly be accosted by the sight of a stray nipple in his newspaper. Because nipples remind men of piano legs. Or something…
But of course, while the nipples have gone the sexualisation of women is still everywhere; the judgemental photos of female celebrities in bikinis, the opinions of women shot down with discussions about how ugly they are. The disregard of talented female actresses as we say, never mind her role in the film, what was she wearing and could we see her tits?
There’s still a huge gap between how men and women are portrayed.
A man appears on a talent show and mentions that he didn’t pursue his singing career because of his young daughter. The audience, mostly women, goes wild and roars out ‘Aww!’ as one. They are practically wetting themselves with excitement, he is a walking, talking Athena poster. Meanwhile, a billion women behind him sigh and get on with the housework. They too gave up their dreams to look after a child, and often a husband, and do a crappy job that they hate because it’s not quite as good as the one they had before, but they have no choice because they disappeared once they gave birth and they’re just grateful that their boss doesn’t complain to much when they have to leave early to take their kid to the doctors, so they can’t complain too much or make a fuss and nobody cheers them. The most we can do is tell them they look like shit, can’t cook and are bad mothers.
And our daughters starve themselves and get rid of their pubic hair and try to look like some model in a magazine who doesn’t even look like that herself so yes, this is a triumph, of sorts, but it feels like an empty one.
It’s not that I’m offended by naked breasts, or even topless models. If that’s what they want to do then get them out, spray some cold water on those nipples and smile. But there’s a place for that kind of thing and that place isn’t in a newspaper. Because what does offend me is how normal it has become to see scantily clad women in amongst news items and car ads. I’m not against nudity, we need more normal, un-photoshopped naked bodies around, but I am against the overall portrayal of women in the media.
One of the things I hated most about Page 3 was the text next to the photographs. For example, ‘Bunty, 23 from Cheshire says that she lives her life according to the teachings of Carl Jung’. The joke being, of course, that an attractive woman would never in a million years have heard of Jung, never mind know what his philosophy was. Imagine! Oh how we laugh as we battle yet another stereotype.
And I don’t think for one minute that Mr. Murdoch did this because he suddenly realised that he was adding to the general degradation of women, in the same way that I don’t think any of the football clubs who backed away from a deal with Ched Evans did so because he raped an unconscious woman and then lied about it. It’s all about money, and the fear of advertisers and sponsors pulling out, nothing else.
So yes, it’s great, and look at what we did! But don’t forget to look at all the other stuff we still need to do.