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”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0LGW8urTOs
“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.”

Murdoch’s Sun ate women’s dignity

Labour Party

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.