No More Page 3
As one Oxford JCR votes to boycott The Sun, ISABELLE FRASER talks to Lucy Holmes, founder of the No More Page 3 campaign.
Lucy Holmes is the writer, actress and campaigner that founded the No More Page 3 campaign. The petition politely demands that the Editor of The Sun, Dominic Mohan, remove the daily nubile bare flesh from its pages, and it’s gained over 80,000 names since last August. Last week, I got the chance to talk to Lucy about the campaign, its relevance to students, and what she thinks of The Tab.
She started the campaign after seeing Jessica Ennis’ picture during the Olympics dwarfed by that of a topless model. “I just felt all this passion, and I was thinking: can I have all this passion and be the only one? Quite soon it became clear that people felt passionately about it as well.”
“Before I started this campaign, I just didn’t realise how ingrained sexism is… because you’ve got Page 3, which makes it normal! Page 3 has created ‘cor, look at the tits on that’, with the ‘that’ being the sad word…”
This a-ha moment proved to be a catalyst for some searching questions. “I was thinking about my own body hatred, and I realised that I hated my boobs and thighs because my brother was reading The Sun. The moment that I was developing at age 11, my brother and his friends were going ‘yeah, look at the tits on that!’…and I was there, developing, feeling that my boobs had arrived and they were there for men to look at, and mine fell short.”
No More Page 3 also seeks to document people’s response to the Page 3 phonomenon, and the project has been inundated with powerful testimonies of its harmful impact. Lucy is urging everyone to take part, and contribute their own experiences of Page 3.
Besides the numerical success of the petition, Lucy’s campaign has increased awareness of the bizarre existence of this relic from the glory days of Jimmy Savile, and sparked the feminist imaginations of many, including my own. For so many years, Page 3 has remained on the periphery of recognition. “I know a lot of people have said that they’ve never thought about it before and were… shocked.”
The campaign is also targeting advertisers, including Lego, which gave out coupons on the opposite page to a topless model. Lucy claims that they have found it difficult to gain companies’ and celebrities support against what she describes as “the most powerful newspaper in the country” because “it’s got a name for shaming people, destroying people.” But her cause has won recent success, as Lego have withdrawn their advertising from The Sun as the result of another online petition by a father who didn’t want his kids seeing a naked woman in the newspaper.
She claims that even those who read it and work at The Sun are embarrassed by it: Lucy describes meeting white van men who described Page 3 as ‘shameful’ or ‘embarrassing’. “A former Deputy Editor of The Sun said he didn’t even take it home because his wife didn’t like it in the house.”
After Murdoch’s hint at scrapping Page 3 for ‘glamorous fashionistas’, what constitutes a victory? “Lord, help us! It seems that he can’t get beyond the idea that in print, women are there to be looked at… Why doesn’t The Sun say ‘we’ve been valiantly representing glamour modelling for 42 years, we’re going to spend a whole year showcasing all other fields of expertise that women excel at.'”
The next stage of the campaign seems to be among students. And it takes more than simply signing the petition. Last week, St Edmund Hall’s JCR in Oxford voted to boycott The Sun; LSE, Manchester Met, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Dundee have also voted to stop their shops from selling the publication.
The fact that St Edmund Hall – my old college – has voted for this boycott underlines how anyone can make it happen: even this hotbed of misogyny managed to boycott The Sun. If you believe in the cause, then create awareness: raise it at your JCR meeting. As Lucy says, “the whole nature of the campaign is just to make it your own. Anything you want to do, as long as it is legal and polite, to get the message out – go for it.”
We talk about the culture of male drinking clubs and the undercurrent of misogyny that remains entrenched in Oxbridge. “If you are coming out of Oxford or Cambridge, which are bastions of bringing the brains into the workplace and that is rife with sexism, then these stories [of sexism] are powerful and important.”
Especially when you look at statistics of women in high-profile positions: “5% of newspaper editors… 22% female MPs. And lo and behold we have this situation.” Perhaps, in a perverse way, the Daily Mail is doing a favour for the women of Oxbridge by raising awareness of behaviour like this. Perhaps.
On The Tab’s own Fit College, Lucy noted the ‘equality’ of it, but was surprised at its judgemental tone. “I would have thought Cambridge would have been trying to break down and challenge the idea that ‘we’ll judge people on their looks rather than actions or words’, instead of reinforcing it.”
Hadley Freeman recently wrote of the cresting of ‘fourth wave of feminism’; does it exist, and is No More Page 3 a part of it? “I think social media has changed it… it’s difficult to silence that. Whereas before when Clare Short did it, people were resorting to handwritten letters, to petitioning in the streets and it’s a very different climate now… So if there is a fourth wave of feminism, then it is very much buoyed by social media.”
“It just seems like collectively a lot of people are just saying that they have had enough. And once one person says it and then someone else is saying it then there is that feeling that ‘I feel a bit stronger now’.”