20 Jan 2015

No tears for the passing of the Sun's page 3 anachronism

What took them so long? Once upon a time, when Playboy magazine’s centrefold was virtually the only topless image in the newsagents, but cost a fortune, the Sun’s topless arrival was the only light relief for anyone desperate enough to need it.

For the past decade or two you could be forgiven for wondering whether the great men and women who run the Sun had ever heard of the internet. In the age of a medium awash with flesh, porn, and the rest, it is surprising so anachronistic an  institution as page 3 survived for so long.

Lamely, the Sun point out that topless page 3 will still be available on their website. They don’t mention that you’ll have to pay to access it – the Murdoch papers like to hide their wares, not in a brown bag on the newsagent’s top shelves, but behind a paywall.

What was it about the women and men in the Sun’s organisation that they tolerated the page anyway? And what does it say about the men that they felt needed the page anyway? What did they think that their own wives, mothers, daughters, or lovers felt about it.

“Dad, do you really need to look at it?’ – you can almost hear the plaintive cry. “Oh, it’s nothing, love,” comes the retort from behind the paper. Makes you queasy to think about it.


What was the great need for page 3? Was it Murdoch’s apparent crusade against feminism, equal rights, respect, and the rest? While feminists – men and women alike – decried it, many were the young women to whom the page gave a great boost to their careers.

But it’s hard to believe that this small benefit outweighed the negative misogynistic aspects of it all. “Oh, it was just a bit of fun,” you can hear some idiot from the management protest.

Page 3 is likely to prove the grim tombstone for a tabloid age which in so many other respects had much to be proud of.

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