20 Jan 2015

The end of page 3: a victory for feminism?

Amid reports that topless models will no longer appear on page 3 of the Sun after a 44-year run, debate is raging over whether this is a victory for women.

Although Britain’s best-selling tabloid has not confirmed the move, the Times reports that it is “quietly dropping one of the most controversial traditions of British journalism”.

The news was welcomed by shadow cabinet minister Harriet Harman, who has long campaigned against the use of topless pictures in the newspaper.

She tweeted: “Glad that @TheSunNewspaper p3 gone. Women expect to be equal in C21. Not posing half naked.”

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who also holds the women and equalities brief, said: “This is a long overdue decision and marks a small but significant step towards improving media portrayal of women and girls. I very much hope it remains permanent.”

The NoMorePage3 protest group wrote on its Facebook page: “Wow… we’re hearing The Sun may have dropped Page 3.

“This could be truly historic news and a great day for people power. We don’t know the details for sure and there’s still lots to be done. But this could be a huge step for challenging media sexism.”

The campaign group’s founder, actress Lucy-Anne Holmes, said it would not claim victory if scantily clad women continued to appear in the paper. But she said it was a “step in the right direction” if they were no longer topless.

On Twitter, Labour MP Stella Creasy said: “Hey Britain- lets show some love 2 Lucy Ann Holmes of @NoMorePage3 4 helping give the nudge to nipples in our news.”

But former page 3 model Jodie Marsh led the backlash against the move, saying on Twitter that “telling girls they shouldn’t do page 3 is not being a feminist”.

In a series of tweets, she said: “So-called ‘feminists’ really annoy me. Telling girls they shouldn’t do page 3 is not being a feminist; women should do whatever they want.”

Commenting on her career as a page 3 model, she said: “I loved doing page 3, it was good money, I felt powerful, I was definitely in control and all the people (mostly women) I worked with were fab.

“I never felt exploited – in fact the opposite. I thought ‘Blimey, people are willing to pay to see my boobs’. I am very much a feminist. I believe women can do it all and have it all. Women who slag off other women are just jealous and insecure.”

Page 3 model Rhian Sugden said: “It’s only a matter of time before everything we do will be dictated by comfy shoe-wearing, no bra-wearing, man-haters.”

Former model Nicola McLean told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Everybody still wants page 3, apart from the feminists who are fighting an argument I just don’t agree with.

“If you meet any page 3 girl who has gone on to pose for the Sun, we are all very strong-minded women that have made our own choice and feel very happy with what we are doing. We certainly don’t feel like we have been victimised.”

Karen Danczuk, a councillor who is married to Labour MP Simon Karen Danczuk and is known for posting revealing selfies on Twitter, said: “Will I be one of the last to grace @TheSunNewspaper page 3 you say?? What do you think – Yes or No? KD.”