So I was wearing my NO MORE PAGE THREE t-shirt in a supermarket the other day (support the campaign and contribute to breast cancer clinical research trials by buying yours here), when a pair of breasts woman passing me said, “Ha, I don’t believe you!”

Now, I don’t know, maybe she was just saying that she thought I still had the figure for it (and maybe, just maybe she was right); however, given the frequency with which I encounter similar reactions, I suspect that she simply thought I was being insincere because I’m a bloke – like that somehow precludes me from holding a balanced opinion on matters of gender bias. Honestly, I can’t tell you how sick I am of people making presumptions about my mental acuity based solely upon my chromosomal make-up.

Of course, the reasoning behind objecting to the objectification of women on the pages of newspapers (not to mention in advertising and music videos) is fairly elementary and has been documented extensively but, alas, my accuser vanished into the scrum of shoppers before I had a chance to present a defence of my sincerity. So, just because I’m tired of justifying my position over and over again, I’m going to lay it out here one last time for the cheap seats:

Reducing women to the level of trinkets for amusement, mere objects of titillation for the masses, is and always will be a bad thing because it belittles women and infantilises men. By allowing the female physical form or female sexuality to be made the object of humour or derision, we mock humanity itself and ridicule our own intimate feelings and desires. Worse, we effectively deny the worth of women beyond their outward appearance, thus robbing our species of half its chance to fulfil its own potential.

One of the reasons that men joke about women’s bodies is that it allows us to mask our insecurities about our own. The average penis (and, believe me, they’re all average) is not a pretty sight: when it’s down, it’s rather pitiable; when it’s up, at best it looks like some kind of a tumour or deformity. Well, there’s no better way to deflect attention from oneself than to point and jeer at another, and the male psyche’s best defence is therefore to deride the female.

A great many men will react to accusations of sexism with the standard banter defence. This is, of course, no defence at all – it is just the shield of raucousness, behind which the simple-minded have no need to fear recourse to thought. “It’s only a joke!” Quite. It’s always the same joke, too, isn’t it? Then again, minds which are easily pleased seldom seek to be put to the test of any intellectual effort.

So, to those of you who find sexual objectification amusing, here’s what I’d like you to consider: when you are content in your mind to reduce a woman to no more than a sex object, that is also how you are defining any woman: your mother, your sister, your daughter, your grand-daughter – and don’t try to convince yourself that that isn’t as vile as it initially sounds, for if you consider a woman to be but a life-support machine for a pair of mammary glands after she reaches sexual maturity, what possible regard can you hold her in prior to that point?

The trouble with the “bit of harmless fun” that is Page Three is that it gives shape to a society which dehumanises women until they are merely ejaculate receptacles, units to masturbate over or into. This is a society in which sexual harassment becomes commonplace; a society in which acid attacks on women will become more frequent and normalised; and a society in which rape is considered by some to be no more than “bad sexual etiquette” and its victims are able to be vilified and harassed on social media.

One wonders whether perhaps a society in which male rape was less uncommon might have more of an understanding of the sheer brutality of the experience – because there’s a whole world of difference between the mock-unwillingness of a rape-fantasy and the mind-paralysing fear and bewilderment of being subjected to an attack which leaves one bloodied and bruised both inside and out – physically, mentally and emotionally. Rape isn’t about sex and it certainly isn’t about humour: it’s about stripping away another’s control of their own life and body, about denying their right to exist as an individual intellect, about violence and abuse and naked aggression – and it’s a natural progression from the normalisation of exploitation in the pages of a daily family newspaper.

About Fles

Early middle-aged (oh yes I am!), no longer long-haired but still speccy and decidedly still an increasingly opinionated git. I’m basically a believer in individualism, that everybody has their own perspective and inner-beauty. I try to find humour in every situation. I enjoy reading and writing poetry.
This entry was posted in Exploitation, Feminism, Sexism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to NO MORE PAGE THREE

  1. veraersilia says:

    Thank you for saying all this. It has to come from a male because women have known about it, have lived it, but been beaten down for saying it. What happened in India is only the final result, empowered by custom and RELIGION, of this type of thinking. What I ask is: was there a driver on that bus?? nothing was said about someone who kept driving a bus while murder and even worse was happening near him. (bus drivers are males I am sure in India).

  2. MindMindful says:

    Julian, I ❤ heart ❤ you!

  3. sue churcher says:

    Thanks for succinct argument.

  4. Bethan says:

    I agree with you so much here, but especially with your comment on “banter”. I had to deal with frequent sexist rubbish from the guys on my 3rd year BA University course, and any time myself or another woman in the group got offended they told us that “It’s just banter! It’s a joke, stop being so easily offended”. Words cannot express how much I can’t stand the term, but you’ve summed it up really well.

  5. Dont Mind Me says:

    “I’m basically a believer in individualism, that everybody has their own perspective and inner-beauty”

    Right on! Oh, except that anyone who doesn’t share your perspective is grouped into a mass of mindless simpletons.

    I’m not against your effort here, I don’t even disagree with calling a large number of people unintelligent. I just wanted to point out that if you’re going to hold the faith in individualism as you’ve stated, you should probably steer clear of sentences like “Then again, minds which are easily pleased seldom seek to be put to the test of any intellectual effort.”

    To stay on point though, I’m curious about the humour aspect… I find the term “amusing” to even be a shade off of accurate. Page 3 is supposed to arouse, is it not? I’ve never seen a man say they’re going to buy some soft-core porn because they want to laugh at the models. That said, I can’t say I spend much time around anyone who buys The Sun, but my question still stands.

    On the topic of dehumanizing females, I just don’t know where us laughing at them comes into play on an average day. Midget porn maybe? I’ll admit it was a bit shocking at first, but I’ve seen way funnier on an episode of Jerry Springer.

    • Re: humour. News in Briefs? If you interpret this as genuine political commentary, fair enough; if you interpret it, as I do, as an attempt to patronise by suggesting to the reader that it’s hilarious that this great rack could also have a view on the economy, then that is definitely an attempt at humour and even more sexist than the picture itself.

  6. Sam says:

    The link between Page 3 and rape exists only in your imagination. Or, perhaps by telling us about the horrors of rape in a piece about Page 3 you hoped to emotionally manipulate the reader into agreeing with you? A kind of ‘if you think Page 3 is okay you must be a rapist?’ illogicality?
    The link between Page 3 and the undervaluing of women as individuals also exists solely in your imagination.
    In other words, you are writing a blog arguing against things that only exist in your own head. If I were you, I’d seek out that nice woman in the supermarket ( who sounds more fun and more realistic than you) and tell her that you agree with her after all.

  7. Allison says:

    will u marry me? Lol

  8. June says:

    Thank you for this article, it is refreshing to hear from a male point of view the feelings that myself and a lot of women have about Page 3.

  9. Paul. says:

    Rubbish. You don’t have to slag off men to support women. You sound like a bit of a sycophant to be honest. I don’t know how many tumours you’ve seen but they, rarely if ever, look like dicks. I’m sorry you hate your body. Perhaps this is the source of your poorly expressed androphobia.

    So do you object to men using any images of naked women when they masturbate? Do you think that if all porn disappeared then men who masturbate would only think about women in empowering situations? Fully clothed women doing important jobs and being totally actualized? I’m really not a fan of page three-its tacky shit. But I dislike anti-male puritanism even more. Heterosexual men masturbate an awful lot and when they do they imagine women naked or look at pictures of women naked. Problem with that? If so why? Would you prefer that heterosexual men repressed their filthy urges?

    Your rape argument is a straw man that better winds than me have blown away. Shame on you for trivialising rape. I cant emphasise this enough: men can be exposed to tits all day long without being moved along the continuum from loving son, husband, brother, friend etc to rapist. No amount of exposure to tits will provoke a man to rape. It shocking and infantile you would even suggest such a thing.

    Your diary entry is trite, badly written, insulting and poor reasoned. You’re not helping. Please stop writing.

    • He is in no way slagging off men, and given that he is one I’m sure this is far from his intention. He is criticising a specific cultural phenomenon and those particular men who help to perpetuate it.

      You’re calling his argument a straw man, but you set one up yourself by equating his argument to “seeing tits = being a rapist”, which bears zero resemblance to what he says. Yes, he mentions rape and Page 3 in the same article, but what he is attacking regarding rape is, if I am interpreting it correctly, not the rapist but that casual attitude a lot of people have towards talking and joking about it. You may not like a link between Page 3 and rape, but that’s fine because that interpretation is in your head; how about the link that says it’s a similar attitude between that which says it’s okay to put a naked woman in a newspaper and put patronising words in her mouth and that which says it’s okay to make jokes about sexual abuse?

      I love your hypocrisy in the last paragraph too. You accuse him of being insulting and then insult him, and moreover you accuse him of poor reasoning based on the words you’ve put in his mouth.

  10. Sam says:

    Amen to Paul. How can anyone compare the male genitalia to a tumour? That is is horribly, blatantly demonising male sexuality It makes me feel ill.

  11. HalGong says:

    I used to model nude for a living and refused to do page 3 because I didn’t want a grinning pic of me with my bosoms out next to or over the page from a story about some atrocity, by no means just rape/crimes against women, any crime or horror would be disgusting. But I think slagging off men’s genitals in that way is equally dehumanising, would you compare a woman’s genitals in such an unfavourable way? It has been done (badly packed kebab et al) and it’s just as nasty… smells of male privilege, in a weird way, that you’re bringing that into the discussion.

    And anyway everyone knows hard-ons look like pink Daleks and NOT tumours… ;o)

    • Fles says:

      To be honest, I wasn’t slagging off men’s genitals at all – the comparison was supposed to be comedic. Whilst the topic of this and many of my other pieces is intended to be serious, the tone of my blog is generally less so. I had rather hoped that the tumour comment was so outrageous as to be evidently flippant, so I was rather surprised that so many people picked up on it – almost as though I’d unintentionally struck a nerve.

      You’re right about the Daleks, mind.

  12. Pingback: It’s okay for men to hate Page 3 too | Folly and Ignorance

  13. NaturalWoman says:

    Well said. Very eloquent.

  14. I loved the erased ‘a pair of breasts’.

  15. Pingback: Vrouwenpraat #not | Taalbeeld | Blogs van Susan Hol

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