Well, here is a day I never thought I’d see. After dedicating much of my adult life to furthering myself, both by travelling the world and through my academic labours, I am about to write an entire blog on boobs.
Oh, how much that says from the get-go…
I am, of course, referring to the great page three debate that rumbles on this week, after The Sun newspaper appeared to have dropped its antiquated feature for a marginally less sexist version last week, only for naked breasts to once again adorn page three just days later. Let’s face it, they were never going to replace the feature with anything other than women with the bare minimum of clothes on anyway.
Anybody who knows me, knows I am passionate about equality in all things, especially equality between the sexes; so my opinion on this may actually surprise you. I say if a woman chooses to pose minus their clothes, of her own free will, why not? This is, after all, about freedom of choice and therefore about equality, which so many women fought for in the past. Yes, yes, this probably wasn’t what they had in mind, but all the same, the argument holds a certain watertight quality I struggle to find holes in.
Imagine my surprise when I find myself on the same side of the argument as topless model and Celebrity Big Brother evictee Chloe Goodman–who, on Channel 4 News, defended page three against Harriet Harman and Germaine Greer’s attacks. I can already hear the cries of some staunch feminists, in an uproar over what I have just said. My hope is that the same feminists (referred to as “hairy armpit b****es” by the blogger Helen Wood, whom I wish to never align myself with) will be slightly appeased by my argument below.
Anyone following me on Instagram will know that I am not above posting the odd figure-baring snap. This is not in the same league as a page three model’s photograph, of course, but it’s my body and I work hard for it, so why the hell not? I imagine the extreme version of this is what crosses the mind’s of these ‘models’ when they go to a shoot.
Yes, pose naked if you must, but do not do it on page three. A national newspaper is a forum so commonplace that you make this behaviour seem normal. Topless modelling becomes an everyday event and can too easily find its way onto the acceptable careers list of impressionable young women. All the more so since some of these women continue to have a presence in the media after the initial event–no doubt, dating a footballer or two. It does make me sad to look at these women and wonder if they think this is their only option.
I can’t help but think that it must be hard for The Sun’s readers to absorb credible stories about women, since the first image they are met with is boobs. Or maybe the bias is so unconscious that it goes unnoticed. My mind is doing somersaults trying to figure out what is worse.
I am not a prude, but I find it such an uncomfortable concept to think that you could be sitting on the train next to someone, or worse around the in-laws, and they open the paper and you know what they are looking at. Let’s face it, if you want to ogle boobs there are multiple private forums for you to do this but page three is the only one which allows everyone in the room to know what you are doing.
Empowering women means giving them a choice, but don’t make it part of society’s norms. The whole ‘dropping page three’ seems to have been nothing more than a PR stunt anyway and, unfortunately, a brilliant stunt as I have never before heard, read or seen so much about it in my lifetime. The Sun: 1 – Feminists: 0.