On Tuesday we sent Dave Dinsmore, editor of The Sun an open letter about the Girl Guides/Girl Scouts. Less than 7 minutes after receiving the letter, Dave replied with this message:
Thanks for your note. Unfortunately, we don’t have time for holidays here! I’m glad you had a good weekend. I am a fan of the Guides – I was a Scout myself. To save you any further effort, I won’t be changing my stance on Page 3. It is a pillar of the paper, the readers (both male and female) like it and I do not for one moment believe it is the basis of all evil. There are, I believe, many much more worthy targets you could be turning your admirable attentions to. I will continue to enjoy the Twitter banter. Regards David
Rather than rolling over and giving up, we thought we would celebrate our birthday by asking supporters to join us in writing to Dave and sharing their feelings about Page 3. We hope you enjoy them more than we suspect Dave will!
From Lucy-Anne Holmes (Founder of No More Page 3)
I’m Lucy. I started the No More Page 3 petition last year.
I’ve been thinking. I understand that this is a tricky one for you. How do you get rid of Page 3 when it’s such a big part of your brand?
But then I remembered something, that ‘it’s always much easier than it seems’.
So I have a radical suggestion.
Why don’t you tell the truth?
Yes, many of your readers love looking at big, young bare breasts. But your readers also love women. Really, really love them, in many cases I’m sure your readers would even die for the women they love. They would do anything for their precious daughters, their lovely mums, the women they’ve chosen to spend the rest of their lives with, their sisters and friends.
If you said to your readers,
We’re stopping the page 3 topless pictures.
We’ve been asked to by half a million teachers and head teachers, they have said that they can’t explain to primary children why there is a picture of a young naked woman in the paper, that they’ve seen boys treating girls disrespectfully and touching them inappropriately because of Page 3. They have seen how it makes developing girls hate their bodies, distracting them from all the other incredible things they could be doing, and making them depressed.
I’ve been asked by half a million young girls to stop showing these images in the paper. They said Page 3 was ‘disrespectful and embarrassing.’
I’ve even been asked by one teenager to swap places with her for a day and see how the boys hold Page 3 up in the corridor and grade the girls against Page 3 as they walk past.
I’ve heard of girls who were abused and made to look at Page 3, I’ve heard of many women who were raped and had Page 3 mentioned to them during the attack. I’ve heard many accounts of girls and women being abused and made to feel uncomfortable by page 3.
I’ve also been asked to remove Page 3 by the charities that work tirelessly to make the women we love safe, Rape Crisis, End Violence Against Women, Zero Tolerance, Woman’s Aid and many more.
1 in 5 of the women we love will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. 1 in 4 will experience domestic violence. These figures shock and sadden us at the Sun.
Now, perhaps you’re thinking, that this isn’t all down to Page 3. There are other issues at work here too, online pornography, music videos, women’s magazines, other newspapers even. We agree. But does that mean we shouldn’t do our bit?
So I ask you as readers what would you do?
Would you continue to show Page 3 images?
Or would you try to do what you could to make the women we love feel safe and respected in the UK.
I hope you’ll support me in my decision to do the latter.
I’d like to thank the fabulous women who have modeled for us over the last 43 years. Rest assured Page 3 will still continue online. And you’ll still see the models in the paper doing their terrific work for charities.
If you did this, I for one would promise to buy your paper for the rest of my days. I know others would do the same. (I can’t guarantee I won’t pick you up if you disrespect and misrepresent women in other ways, David, I’m not saying we’d be mates) But I think rather than lose readers. You’d gain them. And more than that, you’d gain respect.
Larry Lamb, the editor who introduced Page 3 regretted it before he died. I can’t imagine that the editors in the 80s who used 16 year old models and dressed them in school uniforms feel proud of their actions. But your legacy could be so different, so positive.
Oo and if you wanted the issue where you announce this to be a seller. You could include a big picture of you posing in your pants. You could even bring back News In Briefs and quote Martin Luther King Jr ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’
You don’t need to respond to this email, unless you want to chat further about this or to tell me that you are planning to drop Page 3.
Until that time, myself and team NMP3 will keep on keeping on.
Rebecca Evans (Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales/Aelod Cynulliad dros Ganolbarth a Gorllewin Cymru)
Last month, I tabled a debate at the National Assembly for Wales in support of No More Page 3. The motion received cross-party support and was agreed unanimously following a debate where Members spoke passionately about sexism and equality.
I am very proud of the work that we are doing here in Wales to tackle discrimination in all its forms. For example, our forthcoming Bill to end violence against women will include a new focus on educating children and young people about healthy relationships as part of a drive to develop a culture that promotes equality and challenges and questions abusive behaviour.
The continued presence of the page three feature in a national, daily, unrestricted newspaper serves only to undermine the good work that the Welsh Government, the Assembly, the third sector, trade unions, teachers, parents and many others are doing every day to build a country in which we are all treated equally and with respect, and where young people grow up with healthy expectations of themselves and of each other.
Page three normalises the trivial objectification of women, entrenches inequality and sexist attitudes, and, quite simply, half-naked women just aren’t news!
As the No More Page Three campaign celebrates its first birthday, I would ask you to consider that now is the right time to modernise The Sun, show respect to your readers and potential readers, and drop the page 3 feature.
With kind regards,
Rebecca Evans AM/AC
Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales/Aelod Cynulliad dros Ganolbarth a Gorllewin Cymru
Laura Bates (founder Everyday Sexism Project)
What a year it’s been for the Sun.
There was your energetic campaign to strip “warped…paedo star” Jimmy Savile of his Knighthood (the one where you urged “outraged readers to get involved and back us”). Then there was your high profile crusade to “Protect our Kids from Internet Porn” including strident headlines like “Stop Porn on the Net Corrupting Adolescents’ Idea of Sex”. And of course your outrage at the topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge causing “anguish” for the royal couple.
But then of course there was also your poll asking readers to vote for which celebrity has the “Best Boobs”, your titillating, objectifying portrayal of murder victim Reeva Steenkamp in a full front page bikini shot the day after she was murdered and your online readers’ debate headlined “Teen sex: Are girls too easy?”
And of course, just over the page from the outraged headlines about ‘sick paedo’ Savile sticking his tongue into a 15-year old girl’s mouth etc. were the teenage tits on page 3. Which, apparently, aren’t such a concern when it comes to influencing adolescents’ ideas about sex and a woman’s role in it.
Well it’s been a pretty big year for us here at the Everyday Sexism Project too. We’ve received around 40,000 women’s stories of their own daily experiences – experiences of being treated like second class citizens, made to feel like objects, harassed, groped, grabbed, beaten, assaulted and raped. They’re not easy stories to read, but I’d like to share just a tiny fraction of them with you today David – I thought you might be interested in these ones in particular, since they mention Page 3. You’ll notice that I’m not making assumptions or allusions here about the potential of Page 3 to influence and incite harassment and violence against women – I know that’s a bit of a sore topic for you – so I’m just including here a few of the many stories where it was directly involved. You’ll notice how many of them are from girls and very young women.
“Working in a small restaurant staffed mainly by 16 year old girls, the manager tells everyone to gather in the back room, he holds up page three and declares that this is our new uniform.”
“Sitting on a bus – middle-aged chap sitting next to me is looking at page 3. I notice, notice that he saw me notice, and blush. He says “What do you think of that?” I mumble “I don’t think I’m the target audience.” He openly looks at my chest. “I wouldn’t worry – with tits like yours, they’re not going to ask you to pose.” I was 14, and wearing my school uniform.”
“I once worked in a company where I was the only female on a floor of men. They would look me up and down, laughing. They would bring in The Sun, put it on my desk open at Page 3 and ask if I looked like the topless woman pictured.”
“Currently studying architecture at uni. Went on a site visit as part of my course. Got asked why I was there by one of the construction workers, when the rest of the group were guys. I simply said that I was there because I, like the rest of the group, were training to be architects. The response I got was “with tits like yours?! Nobody will pay any attention to what you’re saying they’ll be looking down your top. Give up now, you’d be more successful as a page 3 model love”.”
“Just had to endure a tube journey next to a Sun reader who flashed his page 3 at me, called me sweetheart & spat.”
“At 16 years old I tried to inform my Modern Studies class that Page 3 was unacceptable. One boy said “women are only here to please men”. Get home to discover that another boy from the class had posted a picture to my Facebook wall, with the caption: “Feminist I hear? You don’t even know the definition of a real woman.” The image was of a man pushing a woman against a wall. It read: “Real women deep throat and let her man go balls deep up the poo chute and don’t expect a proper relationship.”
“I remember seeing Page 3 for the first time in my own home when I was a young girl just entering puberty. I can still feel the burning shame, humiliation and shock I felt then. I remember thinking ‘Is this what women are? Why is my dad looking at this? Does he look at me in the same way? Why doesn’t my mum say anything?’”
“I have big boobs. In the 90s I had to put up with endless older blokes approaching me jabbing at my chest and singing the “See it all in the Sun!” TV jingle.“
“In my 10-year-old daughter’s class they are learning about news and newspapers. All children were asked to bring a newspaper in to school. More than half of them brought a copy of the Sun, and consequently spent the lesson gawping at page 3. This is what teaching children about news and newspapers amounts to in Britain in 2013. What did they all learn about the role of women in society? At school. At the age of 10.”
“Sitting in a cafe minding my own, bloke finishes his lunch, picks up tabloid, turns to page 3 and waves it about, trying to catch someones eye, ranting to whole cafe about “these tarts, slappers ha ha ha all women are like this really huur””
“My job involves me having to attend a wholesale fruit and vegetable market in east London every Saturday. There are pictures of nude models and page 3 in many of the huts; and I’m constantly being called ‘beautiful’, ‘princess’, ‘sexy’, ‘gorgeous’ and being wolf whistled at. This morning one of the men followed me to the toilets and demanded sex. It was one of the most intimidating things that has ever happened to me.”
“When I was 15 I was reading aloud in English. I asked what page to start from and was told page 3, and the male laddish teacher added ‘you should be on page 3′. I was a geeky kid and already ashamed of my body. All the class laughed I never forgot it.”
“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 … Why can’t the editor of The Sun 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.”
I’m sorry to send you such a long letter David, and so many stories. You’re probably sick of reading them. Just imagine how we feel having to live them.
Founder, the Everyday Sexism Project
From Stephanie Davies-Arai (NMP3 HQ-er)
No More Page 3 is one year old today so I’m writing to ask you to finally take action and remove Page 3 from your newspaper. I’m writing as a parent, because I know the damaging effect that Page 3 had on me as a young girl and I don’t want that for the young girls of this generation.
I want to talk about your influence on young boys and girls, in your position of editor of the most highly visible newspaper in the U.K. Parents always hope that their kids will encounter positive role models as they are growing up, and we rely on those in positions of power – the elders of the society if you like – to take responsibility for the messages they send to the younger generation about appropriate behaviour and values. Those who have power within the media have an especially profound impact: we have never before lived in an era where the media has such far-ranging power not only to reflect the values of the culture, but to create them and promote them.
The role-model you are currently offering young people is that of the bully.
The Page 3 feature was introduced in 1970, so just as feminists were changing laws on basic human rights for women – such as the right to take out a mortgage alone and the right to equal pay for equal work – the Sun slapped us down publicly and reminded us that we were only bodies, our role only to serve. Your newspaper humiliated us and reduced us to sexual entertainment for men. That’s the act of a weak and threatened bully. Were women getting too powerful for you?
When bullies are challenged on their behaviour, their typical response is ‘I was only joking!’ or ‘It’s just a bit of fun’. The reason bullies do this is to compound the initial insult and turn it back on the victim: it is their response that is ‘wrong’, not the behaviour of the bully. This is playground culture and a recognised technique of the bully who takes no responsibility for his actions. Bullying went unrecognised in the early Seventies – it wasn’t even a subject – but we’ve done a lot of work on it since, and now we know it when we see it.
For 43 years you have bullied women. You have served up bare-breasted young women daily for the sexual titillation and arousal of your male readership. You have belittled and dehumanised one half of the population to entertain the other half. And even worse, you have sold it as liberation and empowerment for women, when we all know that in the exchange between a male viewer and a sexually objectified image of a woman, it is the man who is empowered. It is always the person wearing the clothes who has power over the person who is naked. Always.
You know this. But you did a very clever thing by calling sex work ‘glamour modelling’, you sold young women the idea that exposing themselves and selling their bodies publicly was a powerful and glamorous thing to do. You exploited young women’s very natural desire for male approval and attention by providing them with a quick and easy way to get it. You were the first to make people famous for doing nothing, the first to promote the ‘reality’ culture – real girls! Just being naked.
The role-model you are currently offering young people is one of discrimination, sexism and misogyny.
In devoting nearly a page of your newspaper to a young woman showing her breasts, you send the message that women’s main value is not in their intelligence, their achievements or their minds, but in their desirability as sexual commodities.
My generation struggled with this, and we have passed on that struggle to our daughters. In the decades that you have been selling young women’s bodies unashamedly to the public, the power of social conditioning has been proven by the very fact that you have young women today queuing up to take their tops off for your newspaper.
The role-model you are currently offering our young people is one that is sleazy, seedy and exploitative.
You are like the dirty old man on the street who hisses to the beautiful young woman walking past ‘Hey love! You could do really well doing topless modelling. Show us yer tits darling, I can make you rich and famous!’ There will always be young women that buy that, young women who are naive enough to believe that selling their bodies is the path to self-esteem. So many women believe that now because you have made it normal. These women are like those with eating disorders whose bodies are so fucked up they no longer recognise natural hunger pangs; in this case women no longer recognise normal feelings of revulsion, they have lost the natural instinct to say ‘Piss off!’ to the dirty old perv who is trying to exploit their vanity so he can cop a look at their tits.
You have normalised the sexual exploitation of young women, you have made pervs feel normal rather than sad and pathetic, and you have managed to make a whole generation of young women believe that the sexual attention of pervy old men all over the country is something to aspire to rather than run a mile from.
You are currently demonstrating a role-model to our young men that offers them explicit permission to leer at women, treat them as objects of sexual gratification, judge them on their bodies alone and dehumanise them. You model profound disrespect and contempt for women as fellow human beings.
This is your legacy. You can change that David. You have only just started the job, you would be forgiven for what you inherited, it’s not too late. You can become a good role-model for our young people.
Please stop Page 3.
Dear Mr Dinsmore, I am writing regarding the continuation of Page 3 under your new editorship of The Sun. We at the ‘No More Page 3′ campaign hoped you would be a breath of fresh air in your new role and get rid of this deeply sexist and embarrassing feature, but alas we were left thoroughly disappointed when you announced it would continue. You say that it is a good way to sell papers, which to me means you cannot have much faith in the rest of your paper if you rely on this feature for sales, how sad. I’m not sure how you justify to yourself continuing to publish topless photos of young women every day. Do you think there are no consequences to doing this? That you are not exerting any influence on wider attitudes towards women in our society? Do you think that it is a fair and balanced representation of the sexes to have all the photographs of men in your paper fully clothed and the largest image of a woman in your paper to be stripped to the waist, sexually objectified? Do you have a wife, daughter, mother or sister who you would like to see represented in this way in a national newspaper? Please take my word for it, if there are women in your life that you care about, then they will feel the negative repercussions of this in their own lives on a daily basis, as many women do. Whether it is their bodies being commented on in the street, sexual harassment or abuse, or the wider inequality we face everyday just not being taken as seriously as the men out there. I am not saying that Page 3 is solely responsible for these problems, but it is one of many contributing factors, we have a big problem in our society, have you noticed? Or is it that you simply just don’t care? How I would love an answer to these questions Mr Dinsmore, but I know I will not get them from you. However, we will see if you continue with your stance of keeping Page 3, and from that we will have our answer. Yours sincerely, June
Jacqueline (teacher & support)
Dear Mr Dinsmore,
As a Secondary school teacher I am more than aware of the preoccupation young girls have with their bodies. Also with the obsession young boys have with young girls and their developing bodies. The focus for both genders is ‘perfection’ and girls will go to great lengths to obtain the perfect body. Sadly even in this day and age they still regard themselves as inferior and allow boys to undermine their confidence; something boys take advantage of. Clearly your ‘newspaper’ and page 3 do nothing but support and exaggerate gender stereotypes. Your paper is worthless, by your standards if page 3 is the ‘pillar of the paper’ – a sad indictment of your inability to enter the 21st century. Isn’t it about time you surprised your readers and the Nation and shed your dinosaur image; making the Sun a paper more people would be proud to read?
Yours in hope, Jacqueline
Rowena (Supporter & Charity Worker)
Dear David, Let me firstly introduce myself; I am a 35 year old charity worker, who believes in the ultimate good of people, and I like to think that in my daily work, and positive interaction with people, am contributing to making this world a better and happier place, bit by bit. This makes me happy. I would proudly call myself a feminist (wouldn’t we all! Wouldn’t you?! After all; it simply means a belief that men and women should be treated equally in today’s society). I love men (after all I am in a loving relationship with one!) and am anti-censorship, do not have a massive problem with pornography (when watched and enjoyed by consenting adults) and luckily have a positive body image. Much more importantly however, I am a bright and nice person, and am capable of paying for my way through University, obtaining a decent degree, working my way up to a respected managerial position within a successful charity, and buying my own house with no help from anyone. So life has been kind so far in many ways! But there have been, and still are, some stumbling blocks. When I was very very shy 14 year old girl (and I was very much a child still at this age), I was sexually assaulted in my local pub. A man genuinely thought there was no problem with grabbing and squeezing my breast as I walked past him back to my seat. Still to this day (some 21 Years later!) I wish I could go back in time and stand up for myself back then. I am embarrassed to say that I did absolutely nothing, and feeling completely invaded, upset and horrified, slowly walked back to my seat, and told no-one (until this email right now). I often wonder what made this man feel he had the right to do this. Of course it is not just one singular thing, but I do know this for sure; Page 3 existed then, and it sadly still does now; and the subconscious drip..drip..drip daily feed of it’s cultural message sends out a very clear message. Women and girls are for decoration and ogling. I know that the Sun and it’s influence would have sadly been a part of the reason for my assault.
David, please, please, PLEASE listen to the world. The world is changing, you can feel it in the air, and see it in the cultural zeitgeist now. The 70s allowed Jimmy Saville, office bum slapping, Carry On films and Mother in Law jokes to be the norm. It is now 2013, and as a society we have not gotten prudish…we’ve just… grown up. Be part of the progression and solution to make this world a cooler, more equal, just nicer place to be in, rather than an embarrassing, out of date, cringey part of our country..kind of like an embarrassing Uncle. It’s just too damn weird now to think it is contextually relevant to put boobs next to news. Enough now; we are not ok with this, and I cannot tolerate the ‘guilt by association’ of living in a country where this is dished out to us every day.
Laura Ashton (NMP3 HQ-er)
I am writing to you with an idea for an alternative to page 3. I propose a page that celebrates women’s achievements as an attempt to be more in keeping with British society in 2013, rather than the continuous publication of an image that belongs in the 1970s.
The Sun is in a unique position here and a complete turn around on this iconically sexist page could really impact how women are treated in British society as a result. If women are shown respect on this page, the message will reverberate through to people and with any luck other publications will follow suit.
I think it would be wonderful if each day a young woman was featured who was achieving something remarkable in her specific field. Young British artists, scientists, writers, actors, musicians, sports women, etc could be interviewed with the idea being that they are interesting role models for girls to aspire to.
Last year Gemma Gibbons payed a visit to my daughter’s school and showed them some Judo moves. The children loved it and were talking about her for weeks afterwards. They were transfixed by her Olympic silver medal and remembered almost every word she said about how she achieved it. I cannot stress how important I think role models are for young boys and girls. If women are presented to them as hardworking, interesting, intelligent and capable then the next generation of young people will grown up believing this to be true.
One of my major issues I have with Page 3 is the passivity of the woman standing there. What is her purpose and what is she waiting for? We live in a very competitive age and in order for young people to achieve success they will need to work hard and be taken seriously. Very few women will be able to form a career purely based on their appearance and for females to perform on a level playing field with their male counterparts they need more positive role models. As it stands there is a huge disparity between the way women and men are portrayed.
Wouldn’t you rather know that you have encouraged young girls to pursue careers in medicine, marine biology, cycling, politics, etc than to know that you caused multitudes of young women to feel inadequate, as they feel they do not measure up to the narrow idea of beauty presented on page 3?
Here is your chance to celebrate women, to empower them in the true sense of the word, to inspire and help young females achieve their goals and ambitions.
This is your chance. Please take it.
Sarah Anderson (NMP3 HQ-er & writer of Tuesday’s open letter)
It’s taken me a little while to decide what I wanted to say to you to honour No More Page 3’s birthday. As I am sure you have figured out by now, rather than leaving you alone, we decided to sit back for a few days and amass a big bundle of wonderful messages from all kinds of supporters to show you just how passionately we all feel about Page 3. Don’t worry about us; it was well worth the effort.
It took you just 7 minutes to reply to my message, I’m fairly certain that wasn’t enough time to read my invitation to a meeting and type your response. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I suspect you didn’t even read it, just dismissed me and all the supporters I was speaking for without even considering our position. I think it’s very bad manners that you haven’t responded to the Guides and I think it’s cowardly that you won’t meet face to face and tell us about this “pillar” of your newspaper.
My “admirable attentions” are focused on many causes Dave (I know, I’m that clichéd multi-tasking lady) and in my activism I’ve come across some of the bravest women imaginable and the men who stand beside them. I’ve met women who will speak out about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of people who were supposed to love them. I’ve spoken to rape survivors who struggle every day to come to terms with what happened to them. I have stood alongside pro-choice activists as we are called “Nazis” for holding the simple belief that a woman has the right to decide her own medical options. I know the women who battle eating disorders and hate their own bodies because they don’t fit the ideal that you peddle; I am one of those women.
I give up hours of my time every week to work alongside the most amazing team of volunteers who pour their heart and soul into the No More Page 3 campaign. It’s exhausting and frustrating some days, we’ve all had our moments when we need to walk away and recharge. We’re a group of people who are fighting for something we really believe in, while simultaneously managing careers, families, relationships, studies and other campaigns. We have no financial support, no training, no PR or press agency working on our behalf. But you know what Dave… We’re winning! The momentum is in our favour, because we have right on our side.
And while you sit behind your desk in your shiny glass office, we have faced your supporters, we have met their challenges and listened to their opinions. As a team we have met the glamour models who speak on your behalf, we have debated with your former employees and we have spoken time and time again to the press answering the same questions. We have been called names and had our physical appearances dissected because we dare to stand up to the status quo. We’re happy to have the debate because we believe in our arguments and we stand by them.
It’s you who seems shy of discussing this with us. We’d love to meet with you; we might even have some great ideas about how you can retire Page 3 with dignity (I think Lucy has written to you with one such suggestion).
To save you any further effort Dave, we’re not giving up; we’re not changing our stance. Page 3 is a pillar of a sexist, outdated and harmful culture within our media which needs to be brought down.
Meet us Dave and will explain why!
With kindest regards
Dear Mr Dinsmore,
You can’t have experienced first hand the impacts of your paper publsihing Page 3 topless images all these years but as a women in my 30′s I’ve lived with it since a builder first bought it into our house when I was 6. Since then the notion that breasts are wrong if they don’t look like ‘Lisa, aged 18′ and that it’s ok for these images to be oggled, discussed, scored and judged in public places has been very apparent. As is the damage it’s doing to both genders in society.
As a new editor you could take this opportunity to move The Sun into this century. To turn your back on 70′s traditions (not noticed much ‘casual-racism’ material being held onto with such nostalgia?) and start being part of the solution.
Young people are struggling with body image like never before. Older people are battle-scarred from the at best embarrasing, at worst sexually threatening ‘tradition’ of Page 3. You have individual power to either help society address the problems or continue to compound them.
I’m hopeful you’ll do the right thing, not the easy thing.
Dear Mr. Dinsmore,
I am writing to you in the hope that you will read this. I imagine that you, or perhaps your assistant, is wading through quite a lot of emails this morning.
I’m sure, like many powerful men, you surround yourself with people that are capable of great things. I’m sure you are aware that not many of them feel able to express themselves honestly to you, perhaps their constant agreement is irritating or perhaps it is something you seek out. Hopefully you have some good friends around you that tell you when a joke you make is not funny.
My hope is that you find one of these friends, preferably a woman, whom you respect and admire, and ask them to tell you honestly what they think about images of bare breasts in a family newspaper. Ask them how they feel about breastfeeding in public toilets because their bodies have been so hyper sexualised that they are ashamed. Ask them about the roles their children take on and when. Ask them if they think the images that surround us have a hand in that.
If, after these conversations, you truly believe that you are not doing any harm. I would really like to hear your rational.
You are a powerful man with the opportunity to do something good.
I, and thousands of other women, would start buying your paper for one. You have the opportunity to be remembered for something great.
Lisa Clarke (NMP3 HQ-er)
So let me explain – David Dinsmore and I have been having a chat for a few weeks now.
…Well….I mean that in the loosest possible sense. I have been emailing and he has replied…er……once.
David replied to me once to politely say thanks but I probably won’t change my mind and to tell me he doesn’t get weekends off. Worryingly he also more recently told my NMP3 colleague Sarah (in the midst of a rather offhand reply to a very heartfelt email) that they don’t get holidays!? Gosh!! Either the Sun really are practising sort of archaic slave labour where nobody goes home ever or somebody somewhere is fibbing a bit?
I for one am close to encouraging Dave to make a claim against Rupert under the Working Time Directive because surely after explaining that our campaign team consists of people trying to jam in volunteering for an incredibly busy campaign which has no powerful or financial backing along with busy jobs (including some jobs involving international travel, an NHS nurse and in some cases 2 or more jobs) juggling childcare and young families, running marathons for charities etc. etc. Surely Mr editor isn’t suggesting that his time is more precious than any of ours is he? Anyway….I digress…
Where was I…oh yes…
David, oh dear. You seem to be under the impression that if you put the right dismissive words in the right order we will all realise we could be doing more important things and go away and leave you alone. Lets be clear about this now shall we “to save you any further effort” we’re not going anywhere!
We’re not going anywhere David because this is not just about a bit of “Twitter banter”, it is about the women and girls of this country having equal representation in the media. It is a social movement that is building momentum that will eventually become so obvious, that unless you make changes you will look ridiculously out of touch. It is about stopping the practice of presenting women stereotypically as an airbrushed, usually thin, usually white, big breasted, standard of perfection that none of us will ever live up to, because it doesn’t exist even for the models featured.
We’re not going anywhere because it’s about not putting sexualised images of women like this in newspapers where it normalises them and where they are completely out of context. Where they appear in just their pants with a sexy smile or pout next to men in suits running the country or achieving in sport.
We’re not going anywhere because over 115 000 people have come and added their voice and so have over 40 groups and organisations and 140 MPs representing their constituency, teachers, public sector workers, school girls and boys, the girl guides that you claim to be a fan of. If you are a fan then hear them David, listen to what they have to say, or have you become a victim of you own propaganda and believe young women don’t have voices and are only there to look pretty?
We acknowledge this is not easy, we recognise page 3 has been, as you say, “a pillar of the paper” but I completely disagree that the majority of “the readers (both male and female) like it”. In the poll you are presumably referring to only 61% of Sun readers asked wanted to keep it and this survey was taken in October of 2012. It was taken without any prior discussion of all the issues with page 3, which I have tirelessly explained to you over the last 3 weeks in my emails. Those asked had not seen the evidence and the stories that the campaign and its supporters have shared in blogs and poems and comedy sketches and stand up routines and art and songs and flash mobs over the last year.
However, even before all of that had really got started 40% either wanted it to go or were indifferent! 40% of Sun readers, without any sense of what we in the NHS like to call “informed consent” said they’d be happy to see it go or didn’t care less and in the general population only 32% wanted to keep it. It’s not known how many readers you could theoretically lose but have you considered how many would you might gain and, with a little education, how many readers would stay and accept it as a progress they could embrace.
So there you are whilst we too are not insane enough to consider Page 3 of the Sun “the basis of all evil” we do see an end to page 3 as a significant move towards equality in the UK. One that will help women and girls to be taken more seriously and help men and boys appreciate women for all that they are and all they can be. You are underestimating your impact David, why? You edit the best selling UK paper. Everything in this paper has a potentially massive reach. The inclusion of sexualised images of women here has a different impact to similar images in other publications. In magazines or websites that must be sought out or bought with a desire to look at this. You give these sexy shots pride of place, amongst the news. You make the objectification of women not a cheeky lad mag or porn mag moment that boys and men might have in quiet but a newsworthy item they can be proud of in public. You invite into workplaces, onto public transport, into cafe’s and playbarns. You put it into family homes with teasers for theme parks and toys and stories of boy bands featured on the very page families may wish young daughters to avoid. You perpetuate amongst male readers a perception that sexualised young women who are always “up for it” are as commonplace as the crossword and TV listings. It doesn’t make for a particularly respectful attitude towards women David with some of those men and we have seen real evidence of that in the trolling we have received from the fans of page 3 and in the comments left under models pictures online and even on the petition attempting to save page 3.
So my parting shot David in this email will be to share with you some of the attitudes which the young men who so love page 3 display towards women and even towards the women on page 3 whom they claim to love and defend. I hope you feel able to accept your share of responsibility for perpetuating these attitudes?
These quotes are all from the Pro Page 3 petition, some may have since been deleted –
“I like to find a private place and “appreciate” the girl of the day.” – Jason L
“I like looking at girls titties.” – Luke W
“Top girl’s getting their tits out,what more can I say” – Andrew M
“i like seeing the big round boobies”. – Declan
“Boobs” – Jack H
“Tits” – tony M
“we need dem boobs” – Jonny C
“Women are the most beautiful beings in the universe so, why dontu you keep showing some of their gifts.” – Eduard Pinzon-Valdez
“It displays the human body , a masterpiece in all its glory … While providing chugging material” – Ben M
“Because whats so wrong with nice boobs anyway, jealous bitches are the ones who want it gone.” – Danielle S
“Cause those dyke bitches can go get a big fat one upm them they wished they looked as good as the girls from page 3 the jealous lemon lickes” – Jason K
“wanking material” – Dave L
“This country needs to stop making stupid changes- keep page 3; get rid of immigrants and we will be back to a country to be proud of!!!?” – Lauren F
“C==========3″ – Alessandro S
“Tits or GTFO”. – Justin F
Are the attitudes of these young men some thing the Sun is proud of David? Are these the values you hope to instil? Is this the “Great Britain” The Sun is so proud of?
I suppose you’re probably far too busy to answer
PS – Happy Birthday No More Page 3
Jo Cheetham (NMP3 HQ-er)
Dear David Dinsmore,
I heard you on the radio. I heard you say that Page 3 is a good way to sell papers. I heard Dominic Mohan, the newspaper’s former editor, tell Leveson that Page 3 is an ‘innocuous British institution,’ like tea cosies, rainy weekends and seaside rock. He said that we shouldn’t look at Page 3 in isolation, but in the wider context of the women’s issues covered by The Sun. After all, we know the statistics, David; that one in four of the women you know will be sexually assaulted. That one in four of the women you know will experience domestic abuse.
Of course, The Sun, Britain’s most widely read newspaper, discusses these issues. On The Sun’s website a quick search for articles including the word ‘rape’ yields 6,444 results; ‘sexual assault’ is mentioned in 2,695 articles and ‘domestic violence’ in 869. But ‘boobs’ are referenced in 6,742 ‘news’ stories, ‘babe’ features 10,902 times. The word ‘sexy’ appears in 18,726 places.
So, David, let’s position Page 3 within the wider context of women’s issues covered by The Sun:
- · Although two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner, The Sun online features nine times more articles written about bikinis than domestic abuse.
- · There are 195 articles discussing ‘sexism,’ compared to 339 about ‘nip-slips.’
- · The Sun’s website contains 961 ‘news’ stories about thongs; almost three times the number of those written about childbirth.
There are 124,917 articles about ‘men,’ but only 33,287 about ‘women.’
So, you see, David, I don’t understand why you keep telling us to focus on ‘bigger issues’ than Page 3 and media sexism. I was perplexed when the former Deputy Editor of The Sun, Neil Wallis, told us to turn our attention to ‘more serious matters, like FGM.’
How is this possible, when The Sun’s 120 news stories about female genital mutilation are buried beneath the 6,742 articles about ‘boobs?’
Do the maths, David. You are selling papers, but you are selling women short. Your newspaper churns out an endless stream of words and images that reduce women to a series of trussed-up body parts, printed on the page for men to mock or to masturbate over, before throwing them away. The brilliant articles that you do publish about violence against women, about sexual abuse and rape, about the health and wellbeing of half of our population are undermined and overwhelmed by the stories and images that infantilise and sexualise women, turning them into sexy babes, girls, totty.
To remove Page 3 would be to displace the most overt symbol of sexism and objectification from not only The Sun, but from popular culture itself. It’s the first step, a huge symbolic step, towards addressing the unequal representation of men and women in your newspaper. It’s your responsibility, as editor, to look beyond profit margins to see the bigger picture; to see how your choices and your actions affect and shape the lives of the women you know, and the millions you don’t. You have the opportunity to make a positive change.
Take the first step. No More Page 3.
Jennifer (Supporter & Teacher)
Dear Mr Dinsmore, As a Secondary School teacher, I see the effects of Page 3 every day in my working life. Whilst, on it’s own, it is not the only way young girls are taught that their attractiveness depends on their breast size and availability, it is the only one which normalises it in a family newspaper, which they see very day at home and on the bus. As a bastion of everything which is great about Britain, I would expect that an institution such as the Sun would be much more likely to dedicate a prominent page of it’s paper to those Britons who have done something remarkable, something which would inspire the men and women of Great Britain on their way to work each morning. I would therefore encourage you to abandon the practice of publishing an image of a topless woman on Page 3 of your paper every weekday. Yours Sincerely, Jennifer
Dear Mr Dinsmore
I’m not sure what to say to you. My basic plea, like so many others is to ask you to stop displaying topless women in your daily newspaper. But I know you aren’t listening and I don’t know how to get you to listen. You will never be able to see through a woman’s eyes how so many feel when they walk into a situation where they feel unsafe because they know they are being judged by what they wear. You will never know how scared and vulnerable a women is made to feel when a man only views her as an object. You will never know how damaged a teenage girl can be by near constant demands from teenage boys to show just a bit more. You just don’t, and never will understand. I wish you would accept that, and listen to those who do.
Part 2 to follow later today!