The ban on boobs

It remains likely that illiberal, gender and self-hating campaigners could bring down a four-decade-old tradition simply because of their bodily hang-ups. Don't let them

What's progressive about censorship?
The Commentator
On 11 March 2013 14:27

The campaign to have the infamous ‘Page 3’ of The Sun Newspaper stopped, banned or otherwise censored has reached incredible feats over the past few months. There is no doubt that when it comes to orchestrating a campaign, Lucy-Anne Holmes and her sidekicks are no fools.

From high-profile news stories to political buy-in, from university blanket bans to a petition now signed by 85,000 people, the anti-boob campaigners are allowing their censorious and illiberal tendencies to shine through.

Firstly, it is important to note that the models who decide to strip topless for their Page 3 appearances are doing so out of choice. They are not being ‘exploited’ or trafficked into the trade. Heaven knows what other bodily-orientated career paths they may choose to engage in if the lucrative business of Page 3 was to shut down.

But the anti-breast campaigners gave the game away early on. Far from truly being a moral crusade about the exposure of children to nudity, or the ‘plight’ of the Page 3 girls themselves, Holmes declared her selfish and self-hating motivations in an interview with The Guardian in September 2012.

She said, “It took me until I was 35 to go, 'why have I hated my boobs?'… Oh, because I've been comparing them to this image in the paper that is purely for the gratification of men. I have never really owned this part of my body.”

Does Holmes’s insecurity seem like a good reason to stop other, secure women from using their bodies in a way they choose to, and in a way that drives the sales of the most popular newspaper in Britain? Holmes may be ashamed of her breasts, as many men are ashamed of their bodies. But do they begrudge the topless male models in the Paco Rabanne or Davidoff adverts?

The fact is, whether Holmes, her forerunner on the issue and former Labour MP Clare Short, or the current Shadow Deputy Prime Minister Harriet Harman like it or not, women are a gender. They are a sex. They have sex. They are sexual. They are sexy. And the same applies to men.

In trying to ban Page 3 from the Sun, as Harman has indicated a Labour government would do (that’s right – government dictating what a newspaper can or cannot publish), these women are effectively attempting to gender neutralise society. It’s little wonder, either. ‘Feminists’ of this ilk have been obsessed in recent decades, not with the empowerment of women, but with the androgynisation of culture and the emasculation of men.

Of course in many ways, they are already winning. ‘Defeating gender stereotypes’ or whatever these campaigners call it has led to a decline in both masculinity and feminity in society today – you only have to look as far as the skinny jeans. Surveys show that young men, more than their fathers, support a ban on the topless models in the newspaper.

But while Page 3 may not be the pinnacle of lady-like activity, nor even all that much to look at – those girls certainly scream one thing: “I am a woman.”

Unfortunately it looks like the owner of The Sun newspaper, Rupert Murdoch, now disagrees. 

For a man who has had his fair share of media encounters within the past few years, from the hacking scandal to the more recent anti-Semitic cartoon that appeared in his Sunday Times newspaper – the man seems tired of controversy. When challenged about Page 3 on Twitter in February, Murdoch intimated that the institution may be “so last century” and that he was considering “perhaps [a] halfway house with glamorous fashionistas”.

It remains likely that illiberal, gender and self-hating campaigners could bring down a four-decade-old tradition simply because of their bodily hang-ups. While 85,000+ have signed the petition against Page 3, another kind of petition shows just how many people oppose the ban.

It doesn’t come in the form of a sign-up sheet. It comes in the form of the market. 2.4 million people bought The Sun on an average day in January – almost 1.1 million of those consumers were women.

The maths, it should seem to most, is quite simple. Every day, over a million women take 40p out of their pockets and actively procure a paper that serves ‘news with boobs’. Consider the opposition: 85,000 members of the ‘liberal intelligentsia’ trying to speak on behalf of an entire population with a few clicks of a mouse and a stroke of the keyboard – as arrogant and pointless as the globally defunct ‘Occupy’ protests.

If you’re with us, perhaps you’ll use the hashtag #SaveTheSun (maybe we can trick a few greenies into it, on that basis, too). More helpful however, would be if you went out and bought a copy of The Sun today. And after you’ve done that – hit our donate link so that if Murdoch does indeed cave, The Commentator can bring you the latest from Vicky, Donna, Katie, Gemma, or Louisa.

They’ve got a lot to get off their chests, don’t you know?

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