Nick Grimshaw announced on his Radio 1 Breakfast Show last week that Page 3 was his favourite page of the Sun, and bemoaned its absence. A few members of the team were moved to write to him (see their letters at the end of this blog!)
This is how Radio 1 replied:
‘We are sorry you were offended by Nick Grimshaw’s remarks about Page Three of the Sun in yesterday’s Breakfast Show on Radio 1.
In keeping with the tone of the show, Nick was being ironic when bemoaning the absence of the photograph and the accompanying ‘news in brief’ feature, and neither he nor the show in any way endorses the objectification of women’.
That dismissive response has made us want to BOMBARD RADIO 1 WITH COMPLAINTS!!! (Sorry, got a bit excited there..) Stephanie sent this reply:
‘Do you know what, I am really tired of ‘irony’ which allows people to say whatever they like and then justify it with ‘it was just a joke!’ ‘Laddish’ sexist misogynistic comments about women are always defended in this way – it’s just a bit of banter, lighten up! You’ve got no sense of humour! – when in fact the comments are no different to comments made by someone who MEANS them.
How are the young women who listen to the Breakfast Show supposed to tell the difference? Nick’s comments reinforced a typical laddish sexism without adding any hint that he was taking the piss out of that attitude. It’s like the old it’s-a-joke-but-we-know-you-mean-it mother in law jokes.
The recent tweet encouraging lads to rate a female singer’s hotness out of 10 – with the hashtag #ladz – was also ironic right?
I stopped listening to Radio 1 when I got so sick of trying to find Chris Moyles’ persistent laddish comments funny and realised that hearing comments like that every day were beginning to make me feel shit as a woman.
Is Radio 1 a station for only lads? It seems like it. It’s just NOT FUNNY anymore, the ‘joke’ on women is old and tired. Please don’t tell me I don’t understand irony, it’s not that. It’s that the world has moved on and you haven’t.’
So if you too are tired of sexist comments being defended as ‘irony’ please let Radio 1 know your views! The more people object to this the more Radio 1 will have to listen. You can send them an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and to Nick Grimshaw at email@example.com – and please feel free to copy and paste any parts of these letters!
Here are the original letters we sent:
Hi Nick Grimshaw
I heard about you bemoaning the lack of Page 3 tits this morning on your Radio 1 show, which is broadcast to girls and women too, not just ‘lads’, and I’m writing because I don’t know if you realise how sexist you sound.
I’m sure you Radio 1 DJs care about your image, and this morning you made yourself look like an old-fashioned reactionary – not good when you’re supposed to be connecting with ‘youth’!
So I thought I’d give you some info because I bet you don’t want to slip into the Jimmy Savile/Dave Lee-Travis image of the hopelessly irrelevant sexist dinosaur.
You’ll remember that Jimmy Savile was a huge fan of Page 3 and he was a creepy lecherous perv so you can probably see where I’m going with this.
The thing is, these days sexism isn’t cool. To broadcast to the nation that you are a fan of the most public example of gratuitous blatant sexism (and you can’t live a day without ogling some teenager’s tits) will not win you any fans. Well not cool ones anyway.
I don’t know if you realise the impact of your plug for Page 3 on the girls and women who listen to your show. First, they will feel invisible. It’s like you’ve not noticed them there in the room, you’re thinking you’re out with the lads. And second, every time these young women hear a public figure condoning and celebrating Page 3, they shrink a little inside. You have a responsibility you see, you help to shape young people’s minds. If a BBC broadcaster says Page 3 is fine and acceptable then what are young girls to think?
I’ll tell you.
1. That the role of young women is to be sexual entertainment for men.
2. All men like the girls who put it out there best.
3. That looking like a ‘Page 3 girl’ is normal and desirable, so I’m not.
4. That getting your tits out for the lads is the job that will get you the most love.
5. That getting your tits out for the lads is a desirable career.
6. That it’s normal to dehumanise women and treat them as commodities for titillation.
7. That no matter what I do, or what a great person I am I will always be valued most for my body.
8. That women are sexually passive and accommodating and have no sexual desires of their own.
Honestly, I could go on and on. The thing is, these messages go in without us realising it. It’s like being conditioned. And don’t get me on to the messages boys are receiving about women. That would take too long. You’re a role model for young men you know, you must realise that.
Page 3 is the most reactionary conservative feature of a reactionary conservative tabloid ‘newspaper’. That means its aim is to preserve the ‘status quo’ (not the band haha) and keep women in their place, so it represents men wearing clothes and doing jobs and women (but only the young pretty ones with big tits) naked and pouting. That’s not fair is it? That’s why it’s called discrimination and sexism.
To like it is NOT COOL.
It’s 1970s Jim Davidson style sexism. Outdated. Makes you look like you’re stuck in the Seventies as a man and I really would have thought that Radio 1 would want to get away from that image.
These days we have the No More Page 3 campaign – surely you’ve heard of it? Lots of young people have. The Girl Guides and the British Youth Council support it, as do the four biggest teaching unions as they see the sexism and harassment of girls with Page 3 at school. Twenty universities have boycotted the Sun on campus because of the ‘lad culture’ it encourages. There is a huge wave of feminism amongst young women who are sick of the sexualised images of women everywhere they look.
Page 3 does real harm. Out of the hundreds of messages the No More Page 3 Campaign receives from young people, here are two typical examples, from a girl and from a boy:
“I’m 16 and have been receiving sexist comments from older boys since I was about 13, in school and out of it. They shout “rape!” if they’re in a group walking down the corridor and see a girl, loudly rate girls out of 10 while we walk past, look at Page 3 and compare girls to it if we walk past, discuss girls’ bodies, it happens literally every day and even worse is girls go along with it and sometimes JOIN IN to impress them. Boys in my year and younger boys make lots of comments obviously spurred on by the older boys. I never wear skirts to school anymore as it’d sometimes get lifted in the lunch queue.. how anyone can say it’s harmless I don’t get! Why can’t the editor of The Sun or a lads’ mag spend one day in a school and see what girls have to put up with in the culture they help create. I challenge them to do it and still think Page 3 or their mag is harmless.”
“We didn’t have the Sun at home when I was growing up, but like everyone else, I knew what was on page 3. Which meant that at 14 when I got a paper round, I suddenly had access to something which for a boy at that age was entirely encapsulating. I would always have a quick peek before posting the paper each morning, this cycle inevitably led me to being entirely addicted to hardcore porn for years. At 20 this is still something I struggle with and I passionately wish that I had never gone near it in the first place.” If you would like to see more stories check out http://www.page3stories.org (but I warn you, some of them are upsetting).
If you would like to know what the cool non-sexist men are doing these days check out Doc Brown here, he wrote a rap about Page 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtC8A2Gb1jw
And if you’d like to make up for your blunder, maybe you could sign the No More Page 3 petition here http://www.change.org/nomorepage3 and broadcast it on your show? You can find out more about the campaign here: http://www.nomorepage3.org
As well as being cool, you’ll be doing your bit for the psychological health of your young listeners, and that’s well satisfying. Just a warning: you might also be called names by people who like the way things are now and don’t want any change, but ignore them. They’re just behind the times.
Thanks for listening, would love a reply.
I love your show, I love the Nicks tape on a Friday, and I think you’ve got a great radio voice. My family and I regularly have a dance inthe kitchen over breakfast to your show.
There are other reasons why I like you too…. The fact that you call Robin Thicke, Robin Thicko, the way you asked the same question as me when you saw Miley’s wrecking ball video, well you were a bit more polite than me actually, I’m still wondering if she’s going to remove one of her organs and eat it, or smear her fanny on the camera lens….anyway, you see what I’msaying…. I think you get it.
I heard you on the radio this morning, talking about Page 3. I know you probably thought you were being ironic by saying it’s your favourite bit of the paper, because you’re way too cool to actually think that. I know you probably thought that the audience were laughing with you at the ludicrousness of the News in Briefs section, but here’s the thing it’s not ironic and it’s not funny. Let me tell you why…. Because laughing about it suggests that true misogyny is dead.
It would be funny if Page 3 wasn’t the largest image of awoman in the UK press. It might be funny if I personally, as part of the No More Page 3 campaign, hadn’t heard numerous anecdotes from women who havebeen harassed or bullied by men brandishing the page 3 image as their badge of immunity. I could possibly have a giggle if sexism wasn’t a huge problem in our society, underpinned by a sexist media in which women only feature to fulfil two roles; sex object or victim.
We have got a huge fight on our hands here, and Page 3 is the iconic symbol of female oppression.
I’m writing to offer you FREE P.R. advice. You see, I have to be honest, I don’t listen to your radio show* but, after having a brief think over a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive, I’ve realised that I have a strong idea of who you are from the image of you cultivated by the media. This is what I know about you, Nick:
- Hair. You have incredible hair.
- Clothes. You’re one of those people who’s just good at clothes. In my head, as I picture you right now, you’re rocking some sort of Dalston-Dandy tight trousered affair. Sort of like Dr Dre has styled the ghost of Cary Grant, in a pop-up nightclub in Shoreditch.
- Parties. I’m quite sure you’re in the Evening Standard’s middle pages PERMANENTLY, photographed doing things at secret soirees with poorly spelt names, where words like ‘box’ are spelt ‘boxx’ or where a number ‘4’ is used in lieu of an ‘A.’ This tells me that you are cool, extremely cool.
- Headphones. As I recall, you’re often photographed with headphones on your head or around your neck. This tells me that you’re either very antisocial, or you’re a DJ. Also, people tell me that you’re on the radio a lot, so I presume you’re either ‘spinning some tunes’ or repeatedly phoning Winifred Robinson on ‘You and Yours’ to complain about Argos customer services, like my mum’s friend Rose.
- You knock about with the Fit One from One Direction.
So, to summarise; although I have never met you, the media informs me that you’re COOL. You’re hip. You’re a bright young thing. You’re ZEITGEIST.
So then imagine, Nick, please imagine my confusion when I saw shed loads of people on Twitter lamenting your on-air comments that Page 3 is your ‘favourite part’ of The Sun newspaper. ‘Whaaaaat?’ I cried, ‘this is a DISASTER! It’s a DISASTER! It’s a P.R. DISASTER!!!’ Really, Nick, your comments are a P.R. disaster. Let me explain. When someone says that Page 3 is their favourite part of The Sun newspaper, I imagine them to be:
- Someone who has never spoken a woman.
- Someone who has never met a woman.
- Someone who knows literally nothing about women.
- Someone who is intellectually challenged.
- Someone who is a weird lecherous creep, who spends all day masturbating in his bedroom at his mum’s house / behind a tree in a park / in a fetid caravan in Rhyl.
So, you see, I’m worried about your public image in the wake of all this, Nick. I know that your comments were probably intended to be ironic but, what with your penchant for double denim, I fear you’re sailing too close to the wind. I’m worried that you’re pushing the irony too far, Nick, and that people will start to think of you as a clammy-handed sex terrier in stonewash jeans. We cannot let this happen, Nick. So, here’s my free P.R. advice:
Wear a ‘No More Page 3’ t-shirt.
Because I am in the routine of reasoning via a five point system, here are five reasons why this would be a P.R. triumph:
- It would make you cool again. Page 3 isn’t cool but, awkwardly, it isn’t the right sort of naff to be ironically cool. Remember that brief period when David Hasslehoff was ironically cool with the hipster crowd? Yeah? Well, Page 3 isn’t like that.
- It would make you even more avant-garde. As we know, Page 3 is an icon of the embarrassing, misogynistic and bor-ing media of the 1970s. It represents mainstream sexist values. Why would you want to represent mainstream sexist values, Nick, when your trousers so loudly scream ‘counter-culture?’
- It would tell everyone that you’re a decent person who views women as equals, not as oiled-up, waxed, bikini-clad products for men to mock or lech over.
- There is a box containing DJs of the past who were massive, filthy, vile slimeballs. You know what I’m talking about, Nick. Don’t go near that box. Wearing a ‘No More Page 3’ t-shirt would clearly state that you’re a million miles away from that box. You haven’t even seen that box (boxx?)
- It would look well good with skinny jeans.
So, Nick, this concludes my free P.R. advice. I hope it’s been helpful. And, if you do need any help establishing your consumer rights with Argos, then do ask Winifred Robinson, she helped my mum’s friend Rose no end.
*I would like to listen to your radio show, Nick, I really would, but my radio is so technically advanced that I can’t fathom how to change stations. I mean, really, it looks the dashboard of a commercial jet. If I can ever be arsed to read the manual, I will DEFINITELY tune in.