And they’ve replaced Page 3 with something far worse.

VICTORY FOR FEMINISM. The Sun appears to have dropped the topless model on Page 3. The No More Page 3 campaign is dizzy with joy, retweeting every ounce of praise for them winning this campaign.

The problem the NMP3 campaign had all along was with the presence of nipples, which is one of the very many reasons I had misgivings about it. By their own campaign goals, if it’s true and the Sun has indeed dropped the topless model on Page 3, then they’ve won. No more bare boobs over breakfast.

Personally, I’m a little more sceptical. I have a tendency to flick though the Sun if there’s a copy nearby, for the same morbid reasons as I sometimes subject myself to Question Time or click on New Statesman links. What I’ve noticed in my perusal of things that make me annoyed is that when they don’t have a posed picture of a model on the third page, they tend to have a candid photo of a celebrity. I’d been hoping–being a perpetual optimist who is repeatedly bitterly disappointed–that the Sun would switch to posed photos of models who have covered their breasts, if they’re getting rid of the topless shots. Indeed, last night, it looked like that was the way the wind was blowing, and I felt genuinely relieved that it wasn’t going to be more candid shots.

Of course, that wasn’t to last. Today’s page 3 of the Sun is… candid shots. Of some women who were in a soap opera. Enjoying a beach holiday. Being photographed without their consent.

This is the major problem with candid shots. They’re infinitely worse than posed photos. What does a photograph snapped without a woman’s knowledge or blessing say about our attitude towards consent? Paparazzi shots are invasive and, crucially, completely non-consensual. Fame, according to the paparazzi model, gives men the right to stalk women, to watch them through telescopic lenses while they think they are alone, to watch and wait for a moment deemed suitably titillating or humiliating. If a woman is famous, she loses every right to privacy, and must live her life in a state of perpetual camera-readiness, because she knows that one bad shot where she’s bending and her stomach looks ever so slightly off a completely flat plane will be splashed across the media with gleeful laughter, trying to shame the witch with her rounded witch abdomen. I can only imagine how hellish it must be to be stalked with your harassment encouraged by the national media organisations. In contrast, the topless model, during a shoot, knows exactly what is happening, when the shots are coming. She can portray herself as she wants, and then go home to her privacy.

Another key difference between candid shots and posed photos is who gets paid. Models, of course, get paid for their work. They might not get paid much, but they’re paid for the labour of maintaining their bodies, of being able to work with a camera. With the candids, the subject is not reimbursed for her troubles. Photographers grow rich, they are incentivised to continue their misogynist stalking. Meanwhile, their victims must go through all sorts of affective labour to avoid the cameras, or to at least try to look “attractive” every time they go outside in case there’s a paparazzo hiding in the bushes.

The notion of women getting paid for what we do is, unfortunately, quite alien under patriarchy. It’s a big part of the reason why the paparazzi model flourishes. Women are expected to look good all the time, with no thought given to the sheer amount of effort this labour takes. It’s broadly similar to how demands such as wages for housework remain a niche interest rather than a major feminist campaign. Our work is not considered work. Also related, here, is the general sneering at women who do glamour modelling (as well, of course, as other forms of sex work). It’s not seen as a “real” job, despite the phenomenal amount of devalued labour that goes into it. The No More Page 3 campaign have been just as guilt of this as the misogynists they claim to be fighting. I note that Page 3 is continuing online, behind a paywall, and I hope the models continue to be fairly reimbursed for their work: I’d hate to see a feminist campaign that threw women into poverty!

What was on Page 3 has been replaced by a far nastier flavour of misogyny, born out of a sense of entitlement and a complete disregard for women’s consent. Paparazzi intrusion has ruined lives, even killed women. That anybody could think that replacing a photo which was taken with a woman’s knowledge (and she was paid for) with candid photos is baffling.

I’d honestly rather see a pair of nipples as I eat my beans on toast than this horrifying form of misogyny any day.


26 responses to “And they’ve replaced Page 3 with something far worse.

  • ross

    “Of some women who were in a soap opera. Enjoying a beach holiday. Being photographed without their consent.” …. who do you think paid for their holiday??? these beach shoots are never ‘accidents’.

    • stavvers

      HEY EVERYONE, MEET ROSS. Ross also believes in fairies and thinks that the Queen is actually a sentient pot plant (you should read his very interesting commentary on how sometimes you can see her fronds here).

    • Stephen Rose

      I’d presume they paid for it out of their wages.

      Maybe I’m a bit naïve, but if they intended to be photographed, some of them would be wearing a bit more, or perhaps have arranged for some photoshop to be used to glamourise the shots?

      Or are “celebrities” not allowed to simply decide to go on holiday, and enjoy the same right not to have their holiday plastered across the news as everyone else does?

  • Crys-T

    I’ve seen a lot of responses to the Pg3 news from those who supported the campaign, and none of it is as simplistic as you’ve made out above. None of it has been naively exultant about this “success.” In fact, most of it has been very ambivalent about what is replacing the topless shots.

    It is actually possible to simultaneously deplore the topless shots, the ridiculous underwear-clad shots AND the non-consensual paparazzi shots, and to want all of them gone. Why you are trying to make out that it’s a zero-sum game and we must submissively accept some forms of dehumanisation in order to avoid others is beyond me. That may be the limit of your imagination, but it isn’t mine.

    Oh, and extra points for trying to make this into a “sexless prudes who just hate the girls boys like” thing. Bullshit. There were a wide variety of attitudes towards porn and sex work amongst supporters of the campaign. That you are unable to understand how that can be speaks to your own limitations.

  • TJ

    Male celebrities get stalked too you know. I know it’s to a lesser and somewhat different extent, but it happens. Let’s argue for a true equalitarian view on this and stop any pap shots.

    • stavvers

      Meet TJ. TJ sometimes asks women to make him a sandwich because he doesn’t know how the cheese can possibly get between two slices of bread. Because women tend to avoid TJ and he is incapable of making his own fucking sandwich, he lives on a diet on Mountain Dew.

  • linkshund (@linkshund)

    This is the problem with the “news not boobs” slogan. Candid photos technically count as news, as they are things that happened and the newspaper is reporting on them.

    Quick question though: is it actually a candid photo? It looks hecka staged, though that would still mean The Sun was embracing the aesthetic, and I suppose that has its own set of implications.

  • Alex

    Yep yep yep. Exactly what I thought, but better expressed.

    Sometimes paparazzi shots are set up by publicists or whatever, but I agree with the point. At least page 3 girls were obviously consenting and obviously being paid. With this one the issue of consent is AT BEST, unclear. And at worst, they’re just some women who were on holiday who have had their pictures printed without their consent or possibly knowledge. Grim.

    Don’t forget the possibility that this emboldens men to take random photos on beaches cos…y’know, The Sun says women on beaches are public property so it’s fine.

    Not a step forward, at all.

  • TT

    The paparazzi shots didn’t ‘replace’ Page 3. The Sun has a long history of these kinds of photos. If Page 3 existed they would have still run the other photos, just on another page. What you’re basically saying is “The Sun removed Page 3… and put the kind of content usually found in the Sun in its place”.
    Unless your claiming that these photos wouldn’t have appeared in the paper at all if Page 3 was still there?

    • stavvers

      Does the fact it already happens make it less bad? Because it’s fucking horrible. Also, nobody’s saying they never happened before.

      Nonetheless, the decision is replacing a consensually-taken photograph with something far worse: and it’s objectively worse whether it happens elsewhere, or not. I’ve argued a lot for NMP3 to have a far broader focus, and perhaps had the general misogyny of the tabloid model (or DESTROY THE SUN) been the campaign issue from the start, perhaps we’d see less misogyny full stop: just because this content has been on other pages, doesn’t make it OK.

  • Caleb

    I don’t think the campaign will stop here, hopefully they will focus on getting rid of the sexism in The Sun as well, or maybe just getting rid of the sun! (That would be good😛 ) Anyway I think the main reason for getting rid of Page 3 was to steer away from a sexist mindset that perhaps could influence people from an early age, considering The Sun labels itself as a family newspaper. I think I will send this to the No More Page 3 facebook page, it raises some good points🙂

    • stavvers

      Yep. I wish they’d deployed the broad approach from the start, because IME it’s much harder to keep momentum once you “won” something.

      Also, I’m possibly more concerned about the influence paparazzi shots have on kids than I am about presence of nips–paparazzi shots tell the reader “some women are fair game and it’s ok to do whatever you want with them”. I think consent education is so important to drill in young, especially when ignoring the need for consent is so normalised.

  • Robofish

    I’m no fan of Page 3 and happy to see the back of it, if it is indeed gone. (And no, it’s not about ‘OMG TITS’ – not for me anyway – but about the blatant sexism of it, and the appropriateness of the context.)

    But I have to agree that paparazzi shots (staged or otherwise) are possibly even worse, and perhaps display a rather deeper misogyny. The message isn’t ‘hey guys, this woman has put her body on display for you!’, it’s ‘hey guys, *every* woman in public has put her body on display for you!’.

    It’s for that reason I’ve always felt the better target for feminist campaigners would be MailOnline. The Sun is not good for women, but that website is fucking evil.

  • Cai

    This happens with male stars too. Stop being so reverse sexist.

    • retrop

      You can’t be ‘reverse sexists.’ It’s just sexists. It’s not a gendered word no matter what people may try and tell you.

      • stavvers

        And, crucially, men do not experience sexism. Men are not oppressed because of the fact they’re men. I mostly approved that comment because it made me giggle.

  • Allie

    Come to think of it, another side effect of treating the difference between bra and no bra as some kind of victory is that it reinforces the stigma and sexualisation of female/perceived-female breasts

  • retrop

    One of the arguments behind the campaign was supposedly the one sidedness of the whole thing, I.e no topless hunks on page 3.

    Although if you actually thumbed through a copy of the Sun you’d find plenty of pap shots of hunks on the beach, Beckham in his tight undies or of models posed as ‘builders’ in jeans and yellow hard hat with ripped abs beside a column on a DIY mishap.

    Could it be that if women hadn’t so vehemently espoused their puritanical views on nudity and portrayed themselves as creature of virtue only interested in the mind that newspapers like the Sun might have more overtly mixed it up so to speak. If it sold papers.

    Of course they wouldn’t though, as women actively shame other women when this sort of subject comes up and are generally pretty aggressive to women who actively portray themselves as sexual. Clearly a threat to them from an evolutionary psychological perspective.

    The fact the people behind this campaign are so narrow mined as to imagine that men are so simple that our understanding of women stops at, boobs, mmmmmm, drool and then our brains overload. It’s insulting.

    Studies of animals and humans alike have shown clear and different sexual preferences between male and female. There is no denying that.

    For some women the presence of prettier, younger, bigger boobed, women is hurtful to their self esteem and value of their own femininity.

    In Lucy’s explanation behind the campaign she talks of feeling she did not compete breast wise with page 3 models and that this made her down as she could never live up to this.

    She then mentions that although she only saw women with their breast out she’d see pages of successful men, politicians, sports men, entrepreneurs, totally ignoring that for the average man these are pictures of things that masculinity demands of him that he will never be able to live up to.

    The sexual selection pressures are different so different things effect our sense of femininity or masculinity. We can’t live in a world shielded from this.

    It is telling of her middle class ‘existence’ that with all the horror in the world happening to both women and men that this is what kept her up at night. Sickening level of self absorption.

    • Robofish

      Hey dude, just FYI: not everyone opposed to Page 3 is female. I’m not.

      “The fact the people behind this campaign are so narrow mined as to imagine that men are so simple that our understanding of women stops at, boobs, mmmmmm, drool and then our brains overload. It’s insulting.”

      That is exactly the very message that Page 3 sent – that us men are so easily hypnotised by tits that we’d buy a shit newspaper just to see them. Arguably for that reason it was offensive to men. (What’s sad, of course, is that The Sun appear to have been right…)

      Also: it’s a bit rich to complain of a ‘sickening level of self absorption’ after posting such a lengthy screed on this topic yourself. If you think Page 3 is such a minor issue compared with ‘all the horror in the world’, why spend so long writing about it on the Internet?

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