Murdoch’s Sunday Sun continues to degrade women on Page Three

Labour Party

The new Sunday Sun has tragically continued with the usual offensive Page 3 female image.

Evidently Rupert Murdoch, along with his counterpart in the airline industry Michael O’Leary of Ryanair, thinks it is acceptable to publish pictures of naked, or nearly naked, women. While Murdoch does it in a family newspaper, O’Leary’s choice is a charity calendar.

Messrs Murdoch and O’Leary, let me, on behalf of very many other women, tell you that it is not acceptable to degrade and objectify women in this way. My recent blogpost on attitudes to women current at the Sun shows two interesting things – an apparent culture of bullying women at the newspaper and public dislike of Page Three. A survey conducted by Platform 51, previously called the Young Women’s Christian Association, demonstrated that a majority of women and a significant number of men do not like Page 3 pictures.

I recently received a long and heartfelt email from a young woman constituent called Tashelle Roberts. She is not a political activist or professional campaigner. She is quite simply a woman who is angry and upset at Page 3.

This is an slightly edited version of what she had to say.       

“I am writing to you to bring to your attention some of the extreme sexist publications, namely The Sun, The Daily Star and The Sport that allow features that degrade women in many ways – but these publications have been available to the general public – men women and children alike for 40 years and nothing has been done about it.

“Like all women in the United Kingdom I am offended and constantly humiliated by extreme sexist nature of British media.

“MP Clare Short tried to speak up against the way women are portrayed in the media 25 years ago – and was greeted by a room of male MPs who simply giggled at the mention of breasts and dismissed her views simply because she was a woman – She was called ‘fat, old, ugly and whiny’ by these papers which published humiliating pictures and articles of her.

“Please, don’t let history repeat itself!

“Page 3 portrays being a ‘page 3 girl’ or ‘page 3 idol’ as the most glamorous thing in the world – it plays on young girls minds and all young girls in the UK are exposed to page 3 from the time they are toddlers.
Then they reach puberty and everyone knows that being 11 or 12 is not the easiest. These girls experience what we all experience – being rejected by a crush, being told they are fat/short, loosing friends to other friends, parents getting divorced, being bullied/humiliated in front of a boy they may like – we have all experienced this and at the time it is seems like these are the biggest problems in the world – and while all these changes are taking place – these girls are still being exposed to Page 3. They pick up the paper and read how the Sun glamorises this profession and makes selling your body or showing your breasts seem like the easiest way to be a celebrity – and at that moment – the little girl thinks in need of attention thinks yes, this is what I am going to be when I grow up.

“So yes – these girls – some barely 18 years old, so choose to do this on their own accord – but the Sun, The Daily Star and The Sport – being so public and easily accessible – prepares them and builds up this state of mind in children so that they know nothing else. So when these children could have become doctors, lawyers, teachers or anything else they want to be – they have so much potential – daily access to this degrading media builds them up to believe this is all they are worth and although being 18 is considered legal – we all know what being a care free 18 year old was – Do they ever consider the consequences?

“The Sun promotes an idea of – nothing else working for you?? Well we pay you money to show your breasts and you’ll get tons of attention.

“These young girls of 11,12 think “yea I’ve got the boobs so I guess this is my way to fame and fortune”
“The above link is to an advertisement posted by the Sun on youtube advertising ‘Page 3’ – this video shows the disrespect the Sun gives normal ‘non-page-3’ women. These newspapers rate women simply by the size of their breasts and their waists and insult REAL women – the ones who have to do 3 jobs – look after their kids – make sure their husbands and family are happy.

“‘Legend has it that Murdoch was incandescent with rage when he saw the first bare breasts to grace his title. But the subsequent rise in paper sales – 1.5 million to 2.1 million in a year – rather soothed him.’ – BBC

“In other words the newspaper justifies using a young woman’s naked breasts to increase sales.”

25 thoughts on “Murdoch’s Sunday Sun continues to degrade women on Page Three

  1. Charlotte thank you for your comment this is the link I have followed the work you have done in the Conservative Party on women with interest. I found on the Platform 51 website

    which shows 42% of women want a ban and 24% oppose it, with I presume the rest I presume don’t knows? Your website doesn’t seem to have this. With almost twice as many women wanting a ban as oppose it I’m pleased to be with the majority of public opinion on this.

    I confess I don’t read Heat magazine so will have to have a look.

    1. You are right Mary – there are don’t knows and they are precisely that, they don’t know. They certainly don’t want a ban otherwise they would have said so.

      ‘Majority of public opinion’? Really? Including men? The full tables weren’t published which only leads me to conclude one thing.

      PS: my work is not for the Conservative Party – Women On … is an independent organisation.

  2. Charlotte I’ve bought a copy of Heat and I’m delighted to see the “Torso” page features our great Olympic hope Tom Daley. He is dressed just as I saw him on television at the Diving championships this weekend. I don’t see pictures of topless women on the news or sport on television, so I think there is a very real difference on our views on this subject. I respect your view to support women appearing topless on page 3, but I disagree and have different ambitions for young British women

  3. Hey Mary,

    If your child thinks “yea I’ve got the boobs so I guess this is my way to fame and fortune”’ aged 11 or 12, you’ve failed miserably in your job as a parent and you’ve got a lot more to worry about that if she’s going to display her assets in the Sun. Maybe she got that idea because you bought a terrible newspaper and normalised her to poor information and media manipulation. That’s not The Suns fault, just as it wouldn’t be Hustler’s fault if you had hardcore porn on in the house around your children, and the grew up to be prostitutes. I loathe the Sun, but this is a really poor attack, because it blames a completely replaceable variable for the failings of parents. Utterly bizarre logic.

    If grown women want to make money from grown men by showing them bits of their body, that’s really up to them; I think both parties equally stupid here, but it’s not my place to tell people what they can and can’t do. There is nothing offensive about the human form, and sadly your argument would pertain to Michaelangelo’s David or the Sistene Chapel, and so reveals the inadequacies of your premise.

    I’m not keen on Page 3 – it’s not family friendly and I’d never have it in my house; that solves the problem for me. You, on the other hand, define it as “a family paper” – reveals some serious problems in your idea of a family.

  4. Chris I fail to understand your view of the world. It is not just parents who buy newspapers. When I see teenagers on their way home from school you sometimes see them with a newspaper. Sadly the one I see most often purchased is the Sun. If you despise the Sun then I do not understand why you wish to keep sexualised images like this available to children.

  5. Hi Mary,

    Your failure to understand is apparent, that’s why I’m trying to help you. A publication does not make a society; there are plenty of magazines you wouldn’t want you kids reading. You clearly seek to police society with prohibition, and that has a long track record of failing, whereas my children will never read the Sun because they already know it’s for idiots. If parents make The Sun available to kids without the proper disclaimer and explanation, then that’s their fault. However, once demonstrated to be a low-grade comic for simpletons you’ll find a childs interests in it dwindles – Page 3 helps in this educational process, especially with younger kids. It is obvious to children as young as 7 or 8, that Mary, 19 from Stratford, didn’t do very well at school, has poor prospects, and as such she’s showing her boobs to men for money; which is probably a really bad idea.

    Whilst I’m not convinced of your dystopian nation of Sun reading kids, I know that they do consume a lot of terrible media – video games, films, magazines, websites, etc, that are wholly inappropriate, and we would probably mostly agree on this. Individuals have a responsibility to their kids to keep them away from that stuff and to explain their existence, that shouldn’t be the job of government. The history of prohibition is self-evident and your dictatorial view of what should and shouldn’t be allowed is entirely arbitrary.

    There are wars, indirect forms of slavery and hundreds of children dieing every hour from malnutrition. These are the difficult things to tell your kids about, not why dumb girls get them out for the lads – that’s easily explained.

  6. Charlotte – So let me get this straight…you are the founder of a Women’s group – and yet you think women’s potential lies in exposing their naked bodies to pleasure men??

    you’ve asked about the statistics and why it does not include mens views? The point of the campaign against Page 3 is we believe media should not sexualise and cheapen women in portraying them as sex objects.. now if you were to ask men if women should be portrayed as sex objects – that is if women should have to expose their breasts in order to pleasure men – I can assure you that possibly 90% of them will say ‘yes yes yes’ women should expose their breasts – and another 9.9% of them will not say it out loud but in their heads they will be saying ‘yes’

    Now why on earth would we ask men if women should expose their breasts in order to pleasure them?????

    As for men being sexualised in media (your example of Heat) – I don’t believe anyone should be portrayed as a sex object – man, woman or child…however the issue of men being portrayed as sex objects is negligible in comparison to women being portrayed as such – everywhere you look – music videos, advertisements, “newspapers” – literally everywhere – the media is using a woman’s body to sell a product – and THIS IS WRONG – women are worth so much more and I WILL NOT STAND BY AND WATCH WHILE I AS A WOMEN AM BEING DEMEANED – COS I AM WORTH SO SO MUCH MORE.

    1. Dear Tashelle, yes, I am the Founder of a women’s group, but not a wimmin’s group. We are tired of the way women have been treated like victims unable to make their own decisions and we want more for them, much more. And we never campaign for anything which is women-only – we need to include men.

      If a women wants to use her body in that way we believe that she is entitled to do so. I don’t feel demeaned because someone else has such body confidence that they will strip naked for a camera. I think, good on them, I couldn’t do it.

      Sexualise and cheapen women? Again, that is your opinion. I am not really in favour of the effort by feminists to stamp out sexuality and sex sells. It is an important part of who we are and saying it demeans women shows a lack of understanding of its potential to empower.

      So, when you slam ‘sex objects’ I wonder what a bland world you want us to live it. Who gets to decide what is sexy? Will we have any images at all? (people have all sorts of tastes you know)

      My point is that if there is a move to ban page 3 that is widely supported by men and women, I am pretty sure that the newspaper owners would withdraw the images and perhaps Heat would stop the torso of the week. I can’t see it happening any time soon and it certainly shouldn’t be done at the behest of a small group of shouty women.

      So I am sorry you feel ‘demeaned’ by the choices of other women, but I suspect you will have to get over it. Get on with your life. For their is no sisterhood and they probably think you are slightly oversensitive in your analysis.

      Best wishes, Charlotte

  7. Chris, we are asking to British media to have more respect for women…nobody is questioning anybody’s parenting skills…so you completely off topic, but since you brought it up………..

    I completely agree with you that yes parents should teach their children that the Sun(and the Daily Star and The sport) are trash…and not buy the “newspaper” ect..

    But as I have pointed out – a child or their parents dont have to BUY the sun in order for you to have access to it, I have never bought the thing in my life but how many times I have found the paper dumped on a tube seat next to me…how many times I have seen kids on their way to school pick it up off the seat and take it with them..If you read Clare Short’s book – You’ll see letters from parents who complain that school use the sun to cover the desks during painting classes and kids giggle at the topless girl that’s so clearly visible….. So yes… YOU DON’T HAVE TO BUY THE SUN FOR YOUR CHILD TO ACCESS IT.

    In an ideal world parents would teach their child that these newspapers are trash and their child would never touch it again.

    In reality however although parents are trying their level best with their kids, they happen to be working 2 jobs to make ends meet – rushing from one end to the other, kids stay most of their time with a child minder, parents are going through divorce – fathers and mothers come home drunk…I can go on and on…people have problems – so it COMPLETELY WRONG of you to say if a kid is influenced by the environment around them and goes into being a page 3 girl or a porn star it is the parents fault completely..You cannot blame parents for every child who goes a stray….while it is their duty….it is also society’s duty, the governments duty, the duty of the law…to make sure that a child grows up in a healthy society…..

    and studies have shown that media IS a huge influence on a person while they grow up….and the only way to prevent that is to lock the kid in the house and never let them face the world!


    By the way, I have experienced these perverts who look at page 3 viewing these pictures while sitting next to young school girls – some as young as 11 or 12… So if anything, you should be worried about your kid sitting next to one of those on her way to school in the morning – even if as you say she(or he) has never accessed the sun by themselves……..

    1. The Sun is ‘trash’? Not highbrow enough for you? Did you like The Sun when it supported Labour? Or must everyone read the Guardian.

      I don’t know if you’ve noticed but most people don’t read War and Peace. They like reading papers like the Sun and magazines like Heat and they watch X-Factor. That is the reality for millions and millions of people, millions more than the number of people who wade through the Grauniad.

      As someone who proports to be concerned about people, I am amazed that you would seek to restrict their choice because YOU don’t like it!

  8. I experienced a funny situation at work yesterday..

    see a few weeks ago this conversation about “newspapers” publishing nude girls for men’s pleasure came up at work…and almost every person and women alike were against me….much like Charlotte Vere’s comments…they were all “everybody had the right to take their clothes off, men have the right to look at those pictures ect…” the fight went on and had to end abruptly because we had to get back to work….

    Yesterday…one of my colleagues happened to tell of how her best friends daughter had posted obscene pictures of herself on facebook (not nude or topless, but still obscene) and everybody at work was going

    “oohhh ahhh omg this is terrible….the girl should be punished…this is so wrong….blah blah….that poor child..”

    another lady (who incidentally buys the sun) got so worried about her own 20 year old daughter and got someone to log into facebook and go through all her daughters pictures and was saying how if it was her daughter she would have punished her so badly…blah blah…

    Everybody was all so shocked…..

    These were the same people who said to me a few weeks prior that the girls on page 3 – someone elses 18 year old daughter – has all the right to do that and the “newspapers” have all the right to publish those pictures….


    1. I have tried to follow this, but I am not sure of the point.

      A colleagues best friends daughter published inappropriate photos on Facebook and people thought she should take them down? Yes. I think she should too – unless she fully understands the consequences and still wants them up there (and is old enough to make that decision).

      Page 3 isn’t photos on Facebook!

  9. Charlotte, If you want more for women – you would not be campaigning for womens naked bodies to be used for mens pleasure – your take on page 3 is extremely twisted as you seem to think women being used is something that benefits women?

    being able to take your clothes off for the camera does not prove confidence – I have confidence – and I am darn happy with my body – I love wearing a nice dress that shows off my figure – but I will not SELL my body to pleasure men… if a woman thinks this is all she is worth – she doesn’t think she can do anything more with her life – doesn’t think she can become something in life so she shows her breasts for money – this shows the opposite of confidence – and yes – they are victims….

    Every woman has breasts and every woman can show them – it isn’t really much of an achievement in life – so if you are really on about how the 18 year old girl selling her body is so awesome – and you wish you could too – go ahead – but the only thing you will be proving is your LACK of confidence in being able to make anything real of yourself…

    our campaign here is not against the page 3 girls… In all truthfulness I wish I could talk to these girls – help them understand that they are being used..laughed at (Have you seen the “news in brief” comment next to the nude girl?? inviting men to laugh at her??)

    using a woman’s body to simply pleasure a man is lowering a woman to the lowest possible standard – I cannot stand by on the tube and watch a fat old 60 year old man whose got a wife and kids at home – look at a nude 18 year old girl……..

    PLUS – have you watched the video in my original article?? if you haven’t – take a look…

    There’s a young girl with only her hair and covering her breasts that says

    “look at your woman, now look at me…now look at your woman…now look at me.. I know she isn’t me….but you can buy page 3 and pretend I am your woman and that we are on a beach together…and blah blah”

    REALLY?? so defending this??

    A viewers WOMAN had to work two jobs – she has had 3 kids – she is working hard to make sure her family is happy – She is probably 40 years old – maybe 50 – she dedicated her whole life to being a good wife – a good mother…
    She might not have the perfect breasts – or the perfect figure – she may not be the 20 year old girl on that video…

    How dare the sun demean women – all real women – this way – watch the video and you will see – why should that man buy Page 3 because his woman is “not good enough”??????????

    How dare page 3 and the Sun make a judgement on WHO is the perfect woman and who ISN’T???

    The viewer of that video – the viewer of page 3 CHOSE to be with HIS woman 20 – maybe 30 years ago when she DID have the perfect figure and the perfect body – before she had babies for him – but everyone grows older – you cannot have the perfect figure and the perfect body forever…….

    That does not mean you can just ditch her and “pretend you are with the page 3 girl on the beach”

    So Charlotte, it is you that has got it all wrong…you watched the video..tell me what you think……………..what about the REAL women out there..?? and I can assure you that the amount of women that look like a page 3 girl is negligible compared to the ones that don’t…….

    take a look at the number of girls out there who are getting breast implants because they DON’T look like a page 3 girl…women who look confidence in themselves because these filthy “newspapers” and media in general judge women solely on their breasts and backsides? take a look at the number of girls with depression over their weight – girls on unhealthy diets – I could go on and on about what the problems caused by women being portrayed as sex objects


  10. No Charlotte – Facebook is something shared by a few friends – maybe friends of friends at worst – at her pictures were not nude..Yes definitely she should take them off!

    Page 3 is nation wide – a whole whole country of men string at her breasts……….million times worse..

  11. Yes Charlotte I know people like the sun – off course they would….the sun runs articles on who had sex with who – who cheated on who – who took their clothes off where –

    it runs a nude photograph of young girl to stare at

    of course its gonna be the best selling newspaper –


    in fact the wrong thing sell much better than the right thing..

    P.s – I don’t know anything about politics or what the sun supports or doesn’t support so please – stick to the point?? (the point being the publication of pictures of nude women for the pleasure of men in easily accessible media in case you hadn’t figured that out…)

  12. oh and there’s more Charlotte – these “newspapers” don’t ONLY feature nude girls to pleasure men – they also refer to women as ‘tarts’ and ‘cougars’ they refer to breasts as ‘basket balls’
    when the Towie sisters were reporting the story of their dads arrest – the girls were featured together in their underwear(you would be blind to NOT see a problem in this?)
    another instance in an article “Bodyguards for battered Towie sisters” one of them was featured again in her underwear…
    There was another article of a woman accused of benefit fraud – the woman was over weight – the Sun headline was “benefats fraudster” sub-heading “Woman too big for court” in the first paragraph in bold type “she was too fat to get into court” and she is described as “squeezing into ” her car after speaking to a Sun journalist.
    cos I could give you much more……………..

  13. Tashelle,

    You have written :

    “In an ideal world parents would teach their child that these newspapers are trash and their child would never touch it again.

    In reality however although parents are trying their level best with their kids, they happen to be working 2 jobs to make ends meet – rushing from one end to the other, kids stay most of their time with a child minder, parents are going through divorce – fathers and mothers come home drunk…”

    YES! I seem to live in your ideal world – your “reality” sounds pretty terrible! If Mum and Dad come home drunk after working 2 jobs, you still think page 3 is the problem? You have highlighted perfectly why your argument is meaningless and nonsensical.

    I come from a normal, working class background – I’ve had no problem in educating my 8 year old about The Sun, and I am very, very confident that she won’t be winding up on Page 3. That’s what parenting is about – if a parent fails, that isn’t the Sun’s fault. If a parent has no time to parent, that isn’t the Sun’s fault. There are kids in my 8 year olds class that watch 18 movies, far more disturbing than anything to be found in the Sun. Do you want 18 movies banned too? Some of them contain shocking violence against women. Kids don’t have to wait to find those – they’re on a shelf in the house!

    Check out the BBC iPlayer, “My Hometown Fanatics : Stacy Dooley” Investigates this week. About halfway through a radical muslim makes the exact same arguments you’re making here (in a remarkably similar fashion). We can choose a closed society, where women are covered, and don’t have the right to do what they want with their body, or we can have our system.

    You’ve made the primary arguments for islamofascism. Good luck with that; personally I’d rather look after my kids and let them live in a society of choice, even though I don’t like some of the things in it!

    Great Britain has fought hard to become a tolerant society – I’m shocked that there are people think that prohibition is an answer. You can have Britain this way today – move to Bury Park, Luton, you won’t see any women being sexualised in the street, newspapers, etc. It’s just the way you want things already, all women fully covered and men never staring at their breasts; that’s proof that our tolerance extends even to you and your ideology as well…or, just don’t buy The Sun. That’s been working for me up until now.

    We live in a liberal democracy – where we have choices and we have extensive freedoms. Some of these freedoms are difficult, and I loathe the Sun, but I would fight to the death to defend them – just like my grandfathers did the last time someone suggested banning things to make society “work”.

    You’re trivialising what it is to be young today; they’ve all got internet connections. We don’t worry about her seeing some boobs, we’re more concerned about her finding CP or other horrendous material; you can’t police a world like that, and the print papers are dieing. When Page 3 finally does stop, your problems will just be starting and you’ll look back at it as a quaint, innocent version of the new paradigm. Hopefully, you’ll of educated your kids to navigate these problems by then, because that’s where the real fault lies – with the parents!

    For hundreds of years women have been “pleasuring themselves”, as you put it, with pictures of NUDE MEN(!) – your bizarre argument applies equally to most classical art. I’ve taken my kid to see many great works of art, and there were many nude statues and pictures. There is nothing wrong with the human form – stop looking at The Sun, get councilling and get over it!

  14. PS

    If you were a parent you’d of spotted the real problem for parents this week : CBBC’s broadcast a kids sing-a-long of Bruno Mars “The Lazy Song” :

    “find a really nice girl, have some really nice sex, and she’s going to scream out, this is great!”

    The Sun is an option – whereas this is on national kids TV, funded by taxpayers. Considerably more offensive….and creepy when sung by kids.

  15. Charlotte – I don’t buy the Sun – or the Daily Star – or the Sport – or any other cheap filth – ever – I’ve never bought them in my life but I cannot count the times I have had to sit next to pervert staring at page 3 on the tube on my way to work – and I will fight for my right to be able to travel to work in a safe, secure non sexist atmosphere – and I wont stop until I see change – I am fighting against extreme sexism in media – as for you – you seem to have some sort of political agenda up your sleeve that is honestly way beyond me and I do not want to get involved with….

  16. “I cannot count the times I have had to sit next to pervert staring at page 3 on the tube on my way to work”

    Move to Iran? They agree with you completely and they’ve done something about it!

    This is a highly subjective use of the term pervert. It may be that you’ve got some hang-ups, don’t like adults looking at images of the naked form and it would be easier if you just got help for this, instead of trying to tell the rest of the world what is and isn’t acceptable!

    Your argument is “everyone should conform to my norms” – exactly the same as Muslim extremists in Bury Park, and some other historical figures that thought we should live as they wanted. It is clear that this is a form of political agenda, you just don’t realise it.

    I went to the national gallery yesterday – there was some pervert staring at images of naked people. They should close this sort of filth down!

  17. The sun, star and the daily sport are disgusting and degrading to women.I know the sun doesnt do page 3 anymore but it still runs in the star and sport. I hope these so called newspapers stop printing page 3 soon so we dont have to be subjected to these sluts degrading women!

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