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Page Three…One small step for man

Page Three…One small step for man

At long last The Sun has stopped publishing photos of bare-breasted women on Page Three. Men’s rights groups across the world will surely be celebrating such a momentous victory; no longer will menfolk be objectified by the newspaper’s daily, demeaning attacks on their intellect.

The internet has exploded with feminists and post-feminists and women’s rights activists hustling to give their two pence on the topic – but they’ve missed the point. This isn’t about them. This isn’t even about women. This is about men.

Page Three objectifies and demeans men, and it has done since its creation.

Pressure has been mounting on The Sun to scrap Page Three.

You can imagine the scene: it’s 1970 and young (ish) whippersnapper Rupert Murdoch is twiddling his thumbs, desperate to come up with a plan to boost his paper’s sales. “How do I get working-class men interested in the news, and more importantly, how can I encourage the fools to READ?”

In a similar vein to children’s magazines that come with a must-have toy or sweetie taped to the front to engage and excite their immature audience, Murdoch did the same with his invention of the Page Three girl.

In a day and age where internet porn didn’t exist and you had to scuttle down a back alley to a seedy adult shop to purchase your next fix of a naked breast, the free gift with the 50p Sun would have seemed like finding Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket in every issue. It was a stroke of genius which saw The Sun’s sales rocket to become the UK’s most read newspaper.

But all in all the whole concept of Page Three is an insult on the intelligence of working-class men (who the paper is aimed at and who form the vast majority of the readers). It has wrongly led the world to believe that all men are this simple – it tells women that they can manipulate these unsophisticated beings to do anything they want – just by flashing a bit of booby. Poor, uncomplicated men.

The Sun’s Page Three has always made me feel uncomfortable – the solution? I don’t read it. I don’t know any women who do. Good Housekeeping magazine’s relentless focus on women staying at home and making the perfect quiche Lorraine to delight their husbands also makes me feel uncomfortable, so I avoid it.

But similarly – I find the host of women’s glossy magazines which prattle on about female empowerment and ‘champion’ women in business on one page, then tell you that the only way to be “seen” in 2015 is by following their ultimate eyeshadow tips in a 24-page-pullout – equally uncomfortable.

It’s fine and dandy for these women’s magazines to put skinny, half-or-fully-naked women on their front covers because it’s “empowering”, or whatever, and yet they seem to be the most vocal when it comes to criticising Page Three.

Don’t get me wrong, nudity has no place in amongst the breaking news stories of the day, and in a supposed “family” newspaper it is utterly inappropriate. But the Page Three models are consenting adults, making a living in the way that they choose. The Sun readers make a choice to purchase the paper, it is not forced in front of anyone. Feminism is about freedom and equality for everyone, including the women who choose to make a living this way and the men who choose to enjoy it.

The recent, high-profile events around Je Suis Charlie saw global leaders telling the world it must be tolerant about free speech. Nay, CHAMPION free speech. The Muslims who find Charlie Hebdo insulting and deeply uncomfortable are expected to just ignore it and brush it aside. We can’t champion free speech with one hand and berate it (in the form of Page Three) with the other. It doesn’t make sense.

The issue is conditioning – Page Three makes women feel insecure and sub-standard, it creates a ridiculous idea in our society that all women should be flawless, white and skinny with large breasts. It gives men the idea that women don’t mind being ogled and judged. It gives the impression to all that working-class men are simple beings who require some kind of sexual gratification to engage their interest.

The truth is, man or woman or child, Page Three does nobody any favours (unless you’re Rupert Murdoch, then you’re laughing all the way to the bank).

Stealin’, stealin’, pretty mama don’t you tell on me

 

Image Courtesy of Jon S

Image Courtesy of Jon S

A couple of weeks ago I was flying back from Edinburgh to London on the red-eye. I nipped into WHSmith to get a copy of the FT and noticed there was a big queue. Just before putting down the newspaper and walking out I saw a money box in the corner where customers wanting to buy newspapers could put the correct money in the box instead of paying at the till.

Now, I paid the full amount, though I’ll happily admit part of me realised I didn’t have to, but the fear of being caught not paying outweighed the prospect of paying the full amount. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I wasn’t the only person thinking that they could possibly get away with not paying, so since my plane was slightly delayed, I stood there and watched what was happening.

Humans have a fear of being caught doing something bad, that is why we are intrinsically good. You go into a shop, and you pick up an outfit though the price is too high, perhaps it goes through your head to walk out with it, but the fear of being caught, the fear of what people would think if they found out, and what you would lose (your job, your house, your partner etc…) stop you.

But not paying for a newspaper and stealing a £1000 outfit are not in the same category so what happens when businessmen and women are placed in a position where they could essentially steal a newspaper? Logically, you would think they would pay, as they are respected members of the community and have a reputation to uphold.

Well, you would think that these are businesspeople that wouldn’t need to scrimp on a newspaper, and could afford that 30p, £1.20 or even £2.50, but as I stood back and watched I figured out that I was wrong. Women with designer bags and heels were walking away with The Times for free, men clutching iPads were picking up several copies of the national papers. And none of them seemed remotely worried that they might have been caught.

So why do we steal? And do they count it as stealing if it is a mere 30p, or £1? Do they logically say to themselves ‘this won’t hurt anyone?’ Or convince themselves it’s not really stealing?

I would expect that when WHSmith check the money in the box against the number of papers taken, they would probably notice that they were making a large loss. I recently read Freakonomics where they touched on this subject. The story was that a man in an office used to bring in bagels, and he would put a box for money so people could pay whatever they felt they wanted for their breakfast. He noticed that it was a solid way to make money. The reason for this is most likely that they knew him, and they wouldn’t want to cheat a colleague. He then started taking the bagels to other companies, where he noticed people were stealing the money, not paying or contributing very little.

The same concept goes with WHSmith, unless it is someone that we know, or unless there is a large chance of being caught, we are more likely to save our money and pay less, or in most cases, steal the newspaper.

Stealin', stealin', pretty mama don't you tell on me

 

Image Courtesy of Jon S

Image Courtesy of Jon S

A couple of weeks ago I was flying back from Edinburgh to London on the red-eye. I nipped into WHSmith to get a copy of the FT and noticed there was a big queue. Just before putting down the newspaper and walking out I saw a money box in the corner where customers wanting to buy newspapers could put the correct money in the box instead of paying at the till.

Now, I paid the full amount, though I’ll happily admit part of me realised I didn’t have to, but the fear of being caught not paying outweighed the prospect of paying the full amount. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I wasn’t the only person thinking that they could possibly get away with not paying, so since my plane was slightly delayed, I stood there and watched what was happening.

Humans have a fear of being caught doing something bad, that is why we are intrinsically good. You go into a shop, and you pick up an outfit though the price is too high, perhaps it goes through your head to walk out with it, but the fear of being caught, the fear of what people would think if they found out, and what you would lose (your job, your house, your partner etc…) stop you.

But not paying for a newspaper and stealing a £1000 outfit are not in the same category so what happens when businessmen and women are placed in a position where they could essentially steal a newspaper? Logically, you would think they would pay, as they are respected members of the community and have a reputation to uphold.

Well you would think that these are businesspeople that wouldn’t need to scrimp on a newspaper, and could afford that 30p, £1.20 or even £2.50, but as I stood back and watched I figured out that I was wrong. Women with designer bags and heels were walking away with The Times for free, men clutching iPads were picking up several copies of the national papers. And none of them seemed remotely worried that they might have been caught.

So why do we steal? And do they count it as stealing if it is a mere 30p, or £1? Do they logically say to themselves ‘this won’t hurt anyone?’ Or convince themselves it’s not really stealing?

I would expect that when WHSmith check the money in the box against the amount of papers taken, they would probably notice that they were making a large loss. I recently read Freakamonics where they touched on this subject. The story was in an office used to bring in bagels, and he would put a box for money so people could pay whatever they felt they wanted for their breakfast. He noticed that it was a solid way to make money. The reason for this is most likely that they knew him, and they wouldn’t want to cheat a colleague. He then started taking the bagels to other companies, where he noticed people were stealing the money, not paying or contributing very little.

The same concept goes with WHSmith, unless it is someone that we know, or unless there is a large chance of being caught, we are more likely to save our money and pay less, or in most cases, steal the newspaper.