Last week, The Sun pulled off the troll of the century by strongly insinuating that they were pulling Page 3, to the delight of feminist campaigners – and social conservatives – and then announcing the whole thing was a lie and the bare breasts were staying. So, top marks/lad points/whatever to whoever thought of that stunt, but it has thrown the whole Page 3 issue into the public eye again.
Personally, I think that on balance Page 3 should be pulled. I realise there is the argument that it’s a woman’s choice and she should be able to bare her torso if she wants, but to me this is just a replay of the classic argument between liberalism and conservatism – i.e. should we focus on what’s best for the individual or the collective. Well, I’m a socialist, and I believe that, whilst it may be the case Jodie Marsh may feel empowered by getting them out, ultimately the cost of objectification to the female gender as a whole is too large. Disagree if you want, but as I say, I’m no liberal.
However, if you really want to focus on the negative effects of objectification, the No More Page 3 campaigners really are wasting their efforts here. While it may have been the case that in the 1970s Page 3 was something gawped at by young boys and old men alike, nowadays paper circulation is so much lower, and anyone seeking some tasty objectification can simply go on their smartphone and search ‘Young slut rammed by two huge cocks’ etc. It just is not the case that Page 3 is a major influence on the lives of people or our culture.
If you want to be concerned about objectification, look no further than the music industry. Watch practically any music video of a woman who is meant to be successful and who actually is a role a model for young girls and you can guarantee they’ll be gyrating on all fours in next-to-nothing with plenty of shots of their cleavage and arse while they sing about ‘Their man not wanting to have sex with them unless they have a large backside’ as plenty of, presumably straight, women around them simulate sex acts on each other. Don’t try and tell me that’s empowering; it’s something out of a Game of Thrones-esque brothel.
But it gets more confusing. When Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea tried to emulate such artists, they were broadly condemned for ‘appropriating black culture’, and denounced as try-hard racists. So white girls can’t try and get that booty and twerk. But then Meghan Trainor comes up with ‘All About That Bass’ and shames women for being slim and not having that booty as well. On top of all this, we have magazines talking about the importance of being an empowered businesswoman, while then trying to convince women the best way to achieve this is by buying these shoes, this makeup, this lifestyle.
Admittedly, there has also been a trend towards sexualising men in music, but not in the same objectifying way and only in certain genres. This is ultimately a facet of our image-obsessed, consumer society. But I cannot help feel that all too often it is women caught up in this confusing, vicious world of pressure, beauty standards and self-hate.
And please, don’t tell me it’s empowering. If it really is, why didn’t Nina Simone or Aretha Franklin feel the need to show how much of a driven, individual woman they were by getting their tits out and singing about how much they love performing oral sex on men. Or Joni Mitchell, Dusty Springfield, Joan Baez, Ella Fitzgerald, heck, even Agnetha Faltskog. This has nothing to do with empowerment, and everything to do with the next stage of post-modern capitalism, commodifying culture through a patriarchal gaze. So yes, get rid of Page 3, but for god’s sake, don’t let yourself believe that by silencing ‘Chloe, 22, from Gravesend’ you will silence this new, ever-growing objectification.