Page 3 lady-boobs represent sexist objectification of women
Along with every other evolved human being, I was struck with two thoughts last week when I heard the rumour that Britain's Sun newspaper might finally be dropping its Page 3 lady-boobs feature. First thought: About time! Second thought? No, actually - way past time.
How is this still a thing? Didn't we agree decades ago that treating women as objects - there to provide a visual treat for the male gaze - was a terrible idea from which a whole lot even more terrible ideas develop, the first apparently benign step on a continuum that leads to violence against women?
Miserably, the rumour turned out to be wrong - just a hiccup in the Sun's 44 year run of topless babes replaced briefly by celebrities in briefs, and then back to the usual boobs business. For those who can't get through the day without tit-staring, the world is back on its axis. The sun rises once more.
Good chat, though. What's wrong with resting your eyes on girly-bits while you're catching up on current affairs over your cornflakes? No-one makes 'em get their kit off, right? Surely it's great for women - they get paid, get (briefly) famous, get rewarded, feel "empowered".
We can (and do) commercialise and monetise all kinds of activities. That doesn't make them a job worth aspiring to. Once upon a time, entertainers were paid decent wages to black up and sing Swanee. That's not a job you should want on your CV anymore. As for empowerment - you'd be hard pressed to find a 4-year-old who dreams of growing up to being photographed with her boobs out in the paper. This isn't aspirational. Having breasts isn't a job. When being famous for your rack is your dream, something went wrong after you left kindy.
And if, as a male gazer, you really need daily boobs, and if we want to celebrate the lady-chest, why not exult in the real, everyday ones - your mum's boobs, breast cancer survivors' boobs, nursing mothers . . . Working boobs, boobs with stories to tell, boobs with wisdom and experience.
That's the kind of image that would start my day off right.
In New Zealand, our metropolitan dailies don't do topless, but they still manage objectification. Sexy glamour shots of young women illustrate advertisements and news stories for anything from heart disease to new tech.
When terrible things happen to young women, we ask what we can do to make sure it never happens again. In the most recent chapter of the Roast Busters saga, assistant police commissioner Grant Nicholls spoke about the men involved. "Where was the respect for these girls? Where was it? That's a really basic question."
Here's one way to answer it: Stop encouraging a view of women which reduces them to something to be stared at, a passive object existing solely for male pleasure, to be thought about simply in terms of what might be done to them. When we ask what we can do, we could start with that.
- The Press