Dear David Dinsmore,
We just wanted to say hello and to share a story with you.
It’s not an easy story to read, we warn you. But we feel it’s an important one to share.
We’ve noticed that quite often you appear to dismiss the campaign because ‘none of the people campaigning read the Sun’.
Please consider that the vast majority of our supporters, and the team, have experiences from growing up with the Sun and being around it, and it’s these experiences that have caused us to make the decision not to buy it and to campaign against Page 3.
We ask you to try to understand that many of these people have stories such as the one you are about to read.
Of course they don’t buy the Sun. We’re sure you wouldn’t expect them to.
TRIGGER WARNING: this story contains details of grooming and sexual abuse
I got breasts at 10, that’s the final year of junior school, while you’re all still changing for PE with girls and boys together in the cloakroom. I was the 10 year old in a B cup bra. My name is Sam, and the favourite and most famous Page 3 girl of the time was Sam Fox. You can probably imagine the comments. Boys made giggling taunts about ‘Page 3′ as I changed for PE and lecherous fathers leered at me as I passed the school gates making remarks like “you could be on Page 3 too, with those”. Like it was all I could aspire to, all I was good for. Men would make comments as I walked home from school, some even yelled crude suggestions from their cars. Let me reiterate: I was 10.
It was as if developing breasts was the universal indicator to the Sun-reading public that I was ‘up for it’ regardless of my chronological or emotional age, or my actual somewhat confused understanding of what sex was.
That was certainly the view of my grandfather who began abusing me at this age. Beginning with my breasts, because they were “just as good as Page 3, and look, that girl isn’t making a fuss about showing them off” and she wasn’t, was she? And it felt like everyone thought that my breasts should be showed off like that, because they were all saying the same thing. The wider context of my experiences in school and at the school gates, being brought up with Page 3 at the breakfast table every morning, it all seemed to confirm what my grandfather was saying. I had breasts and he had a right to see them, play with them and eventually invade the rest of my body, because, it seemed obvious from the attitudes around me, by growing breasts I was now ‘ready’, it was, my grandfather explained, a sign I was a ‘big girl’ now. It didn’t matter that I was still hairless, hipless, and hadn’t begun menstruating, it didn’t matter that I was only just past my 11th birthday by then. I had breasts and I was expected to have sex, and I was expected to like it, and not tell anyone, because that was how it worked, the Page 3 girl doesn’t say anything. My grandfather abused me for about 3-4 years, less towards the end as he became less agile and I got better at escaping him, and when he died I cried with relief. I tried all sorts of things to stop him and one of those was putting on weight. I felt that if I got really fat and unattractive he and all men would leave me alone. In The Sun, they were always very nasty about women they considered fat and unattractive and I thought that would be safer. It was and it wasn’t. My bust was always bigger, out of proportion with the rest of me, so men would insult and grope me at the same time. Like the uninvited groping isn’t insulting enough. I couldn’t win.
Please don’t ever tell me that Page 3 is just a piece of ‘harmless fun’: Page 3 groomed me. It prepared me for my grandfather’s abuse. It and the attitudes it engendered in the children and adults around me prepared the way for a 72 year old to force an 11 year old to have sex with him and convince her that this was ‘normal big girl stuff’. A national newspaper that everyone I knew read – all the adults who I had to respect and obey – this newspaper made by people so far above me, so gilded in authority to my child’s mind, had given an example of what women with big breasts were supposed to be like and everyone seemed to agree that I had to be like that. Page 3 was my grandfather’s authority and evidence: “Look at her, she isn’t crying, she isn’t making a fuss, this is how big girls should behave, it wouldn’t be in the paper if it weren’t true”.
This story was submitted to the website Page 3 Stories.
‘This website was created by a supporter of the No More Page 3 campaign to show that rather than being a bit of harmless fun, the reality is different and Page 3 directly, demonstrably, causes harm to women and girls.’