My problem with ‘No More Page 3’
I am going to try and make this a shorter entry! With it being so new, there are a lot of ideas I want to get down and explore. So I apologise in advance for the self-indulgence.
I have been thinking about the No More Page 3 campaign for a while now, and have discussed some of the issues briefly in my Plastic Feminism entry. I have no doubts that the founder Lucy-Anne Holmes has good intentions and genuinely means well. In the interactions I have personally had with @nomorepage3 I have had respectful responses and must point that out. It has been very interesting trying to get a balanced viewpoint.I do recognise and accept their concerns about children accessing material they deem inappropriate. And I respect the organisation of such a campaign which has taken commitment and skill. However, my problems with the ideology remains.
As I mentioned in Plastic Feminism, I am very scared by these common-sense approaches. Most rational thinkers assume ‘page 3 is wrong and harmful’, ‘let’s ask for it to be stopped’. But what does this actually mean? What are the consequences of this line of reasoning?
Firstly is the assumption that page 3 is ‘porn’ and porn causes rape, or is correlated with rape. Massively problematic. Where is the evidence? And I mean hard evidence, not Plastic Feminist anecdotal or flawed evidence. As a postgraduate student I am constantly horrified by what is held up as ‘evidence’. I am also horrified by ‘ideological contamination’, going into a study or research project with the answers you want to find. You can make evidence say whatever you wish it to. So always question, look at all sides.
Secondly if consuming porn does indeed cause rape, what does this say about rapists? That things, images, experiences force them to rape? That they cannot help themselves? What if they see a woman in the street in a short skirt? Do sex workers and lap dancers cause rape? Do cam girls cause rape? Can erotic fiction cause rape? Rape is rape is rape.
Rapists cause rape.
Thirdly that sexualised images of women cause, or reinforce, rape culture. Again, surely this lends itself to slut-shaming, victim-blaming? Shall we police and regulate women to ensure they do not cause themselves to be raped? What about other countries and cultures where pornography is banned and/or women are banned from wearing ‘provocative’ clothing? What is provocative? Showing some ankle? Showing your arms? Showing your breasts?
Fourthly If page 3 was indeed eradicated, what next? @nomorepage3 told me via twitter they have ‘”no problem with glamour modelling”. But surely glamour model fits in with this culture of sexualised images? Surely if page 3 is linked to rape then glamour modelling is, and other modes of sex work are? The comments by followers on their twitter feed, and under various articles glorifying the campaign show many supporter’s disdain towards models and porn performers.
Doesn’t this reinforce the virgin/ whore, good girl/whore dichotomy? Doesn’t it reinforce that some female behaviour is good and acceptable, and some is bad and immoral? What about those women whose behaviour is deemed bad? Aren’t we blaming other women for misogyny?
Fifth I am very uncomfortable with the idea of censorship anyway, and I very wary of the classist implications. Should a group of middle class women be able to dictate to other women? Are most page 3 models working class? What about their consent and right to do their job? Do the views of @nomorepage3 and their supporters override the consenting models, and those who choose to cunsume those images? Is one opinion more valid that the other? You may well have your own opinions, and I am always interested in hearing them.
Sixth I asked @nomorepage3 and they did kindly try and answer, but skirted the issue. But why are campaigners using Page 3 model images without permission and/ or payment. Is that not exploitative? Is that not ‘objectifying’ women? Can children not see those large placards? Or is this about the male versus female gaze? Or does the end justify the means?
Seventh wouldn’t it be better to just ban The Sun. Who reads that junk anyway? Never mind Page 3, there is racism/ classism/ misogyny/ transphobia/ homophobia at every turn. I am cynical that this campaign has fanned the flames of Page 3.
Eighth What is so wrong with breasts anyway? What is so harmful about children seeing them? Do children look and see them as a sexual image? Surely breasts are just a body part, and sexualisation is merely impressioned upon them? I could look at Page 3 and not see it as sexual, you might look and be aroused. The image is the same.
Ninth Wouldn’t it be more productive to simply say sexual harrassment/ abuse/ violence and rape are always wrong, and leave page 3/ porn/ glamour/ sex work out of the equation? Aren’t we just giving rapists an excuse?
So just some quick thoughts there after a very long day. As always, any constructive feedback/ comments/ problems/ debates welcome. Thank you for reading. x