Don’t look back into The Sun

Gráinne Morrison: why I’m not sorry I made the union stop selling The Sun.


Last week Thom Nixon argued that the union were wrong to ban the Sun. This week, Gráinne Morrison, the lead campaigner of NMP3 at Manchester, tells us why the union have made the right decision.

You’re probably aware that the student’s union recently passed a motion to stop selling The Sun until they remove Page 3.  If not, I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shock. Yes that’s right, you’ll have to find your daily dose of misogyny from somewhere other than the SU from now on.  I was part of the team that campaigned for said motion and was therefore rather pleased by the news. It’s been 3 weeks since the Assembly meeting and I’ve come across several arguments against our campaign. I thought it was fitting, as the person you should all blame for your grievances, that I should address some of the more recurring critiques.

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“It’s illiberal; our choice has been taken from us”

We are not telling students that they are banned from reading The Sun. You will not be cast out on to the streets if a member of the Exec team sees you reading ‘News in Briefs’ in Biko’s. We just find it wrong that The Sun makes even the slightest profit from our union while it continues to degrade and devalue over half the students supposedly served by the SU.  Selling The Sun means accepting its blatant sexism as normal. Objectifying women is not news, it’s prejudiced.  It’s your choice to read whatever you so wish, but it’s our choice to campaign for a union that actually represents its members.

Campaigners protest against the Sun's Page 3 at News International's headquarters

“Don’t like it, don’t buy it”

I doubt anyone would be surprised by the fact I have never bought a copy of The Sun.  I wish this meant I could avoid it altogether but unfortunately, like most women across the country, I’m constantly subjected to the sort of sexism The Sun reinforces through Page 3. I’m not so naive to place all blame on one newspaper but nor am I going to accept it doesn’t contribute to the worrying attitudes towards sexual harassment. Female students know all too well how intimidating it can be to walk home alone, to have sexual jibes called after them or even, to be taken less seriously by male students because of their gender.  So perhaps I could avoid buying The Sun, but there is no hiding from the misogyny it so boldly inspires day by day; the misogyny that has no place in our SU.

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“I didn’t know about the campaign, I didn’t have the chance to argue against it”

I welcome the debate over how decisions are made within the union, everyone should feel represented.  However, the current decision process is one which was voted for and agreed upon on by students – if you have a better idea, why not submit it?  This campaign has been running since last semester, and while we obviously received messages of criticism, no outraged Page 3 supporters took any real action to prevent our motion being passed.  It wasn’t an easy process but we made it happen, that’s what you do when you really believe in something.

Page 3 encourages the sexist ideals that make life that much harder for women. Until it’s removed from The Sun, we continue to accept the worryingly complacent attitude towards gender discrimination. I will never apologise for campaigning against something so overtly wrong.  The messages in support of the motion have fortunately outnumbered those in opposition. You’d better work on your arguments because we’re just getting started.