It’s come to my attention that the editors and in-house supporters of the Sun’s Page 3 are living a lie. They are pretending to be an arrogant parcel of bogroll-floggers, careless of the soft porn they expel into the nation’s homes and workplaces on a daily basis. But I’ve caught them out. In reality, they are idealists hiding in plain sight, using the Sun to promote the Bohemian ideals of beauty, freedom and truth.
This first became evident to me when the Sun’s then editor, Dominic Mohan, defended Page 3 to the Leveson enquiry on the grounds it celebrates “natural beauty”. In a world where old-fashioned paper sales are in terminal decline, and it’s every man (or paper) for himself, it’s so edifying to find a good man like Dom, ready to put his head above the parapet and admit he makes editorial decisions to “celebrate” beauty. It’s not about the bottom line people! As the chap in American Beauty says, “there’s so much beauty in the world”, and the Sun just wants to share it with us all.
I assume from the absolute dearth of men appearing on Page 3 that its editorial team thinks men are incapable of ‘natural beauty’. And judging by the rest of the Sun, where men are shown undertaking serious pursuits (oh, and wearing clothes), a sceptical person might conclude that it cynically uses undressed women to sell papers. But that can’t be true. The Sun is just steadfast in its celebration of women’s beauty. Take Reeva Steenkamp, the woman who was found shot dead by her partner. How to position that one on the front page? “Victim of a cold-blooded killer?” “Tragedy of a woman shot in the dark?” Based on the front page the day after she was killed, I assume it went like this: “I know! She’s a blonde stunna and we have a picture of her in a bikini shot with a cracking rack. That’ll do for the front page!” That’s how much the Sun celebrates beauty – even dignity and respect for the newly dead come second.
The new editor, David Dinsmore and his fellow freedom fighters at the Sun believe that Page 3 is a great British tradition. I disagree – I think freedom of the press is the real great British tradition. The ability to speak the truth and not be silenced should be protected and preserved to our last breath. This is why I personally believe the government/lawmakers shouldn’t interfere with how newspapers are run.
That is why, when I see something in a newspaper that I find damaging and offensive, I don’t petition the government for regulation and control of the press. I don’t try to have this feature forcibly removed. Instead, I say to the paper in question ‘Here is why this is damaging’ in an attempt to persuade them to stop. Voluntarily.
What I’ve just described is the No More Page 3 campaign. I absolutely fail to see how supporting a campaign based on activism and persuasion amounts to smothering free speech. Perhaps David Dinsmore recognises that too, and is trying to harness the liberal desire a lot of us UK citizens have to protect our freedoms, to discredit the No More page 3 Campaign. But that can’t be right – David is just a passionately Liberal-minded man, committed to maintaining our collective freedoms. His publishing these naked women keeps our freedoms alive.
Ducking the truth
Thousands of people have spoken out in support of the No More Page 3 campaign. Some are teachers citing their professional opinion on the damage Page 3 causes in their classroom. Some are women like me who, as small girls in the 1980s, were bemused by the naked lady in the newspaper. Some are girls in schools today who find themselves crudely compared to the Page 3 girl, when a class exercise requires a newspaper. Yet more supporters are parents who don’t want their sons and daughters growing up with the warped idea that women exist to be pretty for men. In the face of all these professional and heartfelt private testimonies, you have to admire Dom for his steadfast commitment to the truth – his truth at least.
Page 3 is about celebrating beauty, it’s harmless, and any attempts to remove it stifle free speech.