Congratulations to campaigning MP (and fellow blogger) Tom Watson for exposing the bullying of women members of staff at the tabloid Sun.
According to Watson, Sun editor Dominic Mohan, told the Leveson enquiry “it is wrong to suggest that the Sun trivialises offences against women.”
Not so, says Watson, and I know who I believe. Watson tells us on his blog he has inside knowledge that at least five female journalists on the paper have been sacked in the last eight years. At least two of the sacked women went on to win compensation after challenging their dismissals. Two out of five strikes me as a high percentage and provides strong evidence of serious discrimination against female employees.
More recently, Whitehall editor at the Sun Clodagh Hartley had a complaint of bullying against her upheld by an independent adjudicator. This will, of course, be of great concern the beleaguered Mohan, who has a lot on his plate after the recent arrests of Mike Sullivan, the paper’s crime editor; the former managing editor, Graham Dudman; executive editor, Fergus Shanahan; and Chris Pharo, a news desk executive.
Appalling though this is, unfortunately it’s not the whole story. The Sun still publishes topless and virtually naked women on page three – a practice deeply disrespectful to women, which I believe should immediately be consigned to the scrapheap.
The Sun is not just a newspaper, it’s theUK’s largest selling national daily with a circulation of 7,774,000. It’s our most popular newspaper and it behaves in a totally unacceptable way towards its female staff. It also publishes demeaning images of women.
I wholeheartedly agree with the four women’s groups – End Violence Against Women, Equality Now, Object and Eaves – who appeared before the Leveson inquiry arguing that the Sun should ban sexualised images which would not be shown on television before the 9.00pm watershed. As Former Labour MP Clare Short, who has campaigned against page three, said in the Guardian “The bottom line is that pictures that would not be permissible in the workplace or on broadcast media before the watershed can still be published in a daily newspaper.”
What is more, the newspaper reading public do not want page three, perhaps understanding how degrading it is to women. According to the Huffington Post, Platform 51, formerly the Young Women’s Christian Association, commissioned a nationally representative poll which showed that twice as many women would support a ban on pictures of topless women appearing in daily newspapers as would oppose it. And it’s not just women. Almost a third of the men questioned also supported a ban.
So it’s actually the Sun “wot ‘as got it wrong”.
Disrespect to women and actions such as bullying at work and publishing pictures of undressed women are no longer acceptable. Thankfully the world has moved on from the 1970s when the Sun introduced page three. It’s about time the Sun itself caught up with the modern world.