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.  

Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

As the Eurozone crisis continues, so we hear news that Britain has a chance to ‘redraw’ the EU- well this is the story according to British PM, David Cameron.


As he and Angela Merkel met for crisis talks there were clearly two different discussions going on, and language barriers couldn’t be blamed. As Merkel made it clear that it was in Britain’s’ interests to strengthen ties, the British PM made it clear that his intention was to move towards a loser union.

You can read Patrick Wintour’s full report in the Guardian here.

I was troubled to read a letter in lasts weeks Guardian which revealed the very troubling news that a third of women have taken antidepressants at some point in their lives, while one in four women currently taking antidepressants have been on them for 10 years or more.

The research was based on a report by the group known as Platform 51 (formerly the YWCA) which helps women and girls take control of their lives.

It found that almost a quarter of those currently taking the medication have not had any kind of review over the last year, according to the research by the group.

Essentially women need more mental health support than they currently receive.

Organisations across the field wrote an open letter urging the Department of Health to commission an urgent review into the use of anti-depressants to ensure the right drugs are prescribed, in the right way and the appropriate level of care. You can read the letter in full here.

Meanwhile I stumbled across this blog last week, in which the author (Jane Martinson) poses the question: ‘Is government turning back the clock?’

When you consider it, it’s quite obvious. Women’s rights were minimal, rising levels of unemployment and very few women worked outside the home while housewives received very little support.

Women’s rights were not the top of most politicians’ agendas back then. And how easy it would be to slowly and seamlessly flop back to that phase (almost without anyone noticing).

Opportunities for women to continue working are, for now, good. But as the government cuts funding to Sure Start centres, plays around with child benefit and cuts public sector employment (an area which has a higher proportion of female employees) then so it jeopardises opportunities for women.

As Anna Bird, acting chief executive of the Fawcett Society said: ‘Women have not faced a greater threat to their financial security and rights in living memory.’

Already there is unrest, last weekend saw a day of action when 1,100 feminists to take part in a series of debates organised by UK Feminista.

As Martinson points out in her well observed blog, it could be just a blink of the eye before we revert back to the smart, yet oppressed 1950s. You can read her piece in full here.