More musings on the problems with ‘no more page 3’
My post on ‘My problem with No More Page 3’ is my most read and commented, and I have had a lot of contact via twitter. Thank you for all your reponses. Original post is here: https://plasticdollheads.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/my-problem-with-no-more-page-3/ As always, I appreciate any comments or feedback. This is great for my getting my brain whirring (even if it is a tool for proscrastination). I promise to leave the Page 3 issue for a while before I bore everyone to tears.
It is a contested topic, the supporters will insist that Page 3 causes sexual harassment and abuse; that porn causes rape. And that Page 3 is porn. And that I am missing the point. And that it isn’t classist. And that they don’t have a problem with sex workers or glamour models.
So that’s where we are at. I don’t expect to change anyone’s view, nor they change mine, but I do have more to ponder.
I still haven’t had an answer to why protestors are using Page 3 images without consent or payment. Is this not exploitative? Is it not objectifying the women again (if they were objectified in the first place). Is it not adding to a culture of sexualisation? Is it not demeaning to the models? Why haven’t the models been consulted and engaged with? The idea that they have the same capital with which to fight back is a nonsense and shows a complete disregard for the proliferation of class. Not to mention the disdain the middle-class led media has toward the sex industries. It is a common-sense approach, a taken for granted assumption, ‘page 3 is bad, ‘glamour modelling is tacky’ ‘sex work is harmful’. They are an easy target. Slut shaming plays a massive part in people supporting the campaign. Just look at comments beneath any article published on it. I was tweeted a blog post today supporting the campaign, when I saw the line “I’d tell belle de jour and jordan to fuck themselves…” I closed the window. Because whether most supporters admit it or not, their ideas of what constitutes a slut, slag, bimbo, or woman who is ‘letting the side down’ is a main motivator. And whilst they continue to believe that these images cause abuse and rape, not misogynists, the slut-shaming will remain. The nderlying message is that these women (the models) need to be regulated and governed as they are out-of-control and disgusting. What about the model’s consent and right to do their job?
I also stand by this point: “I object 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? It really is so subjective.
I have a massive problem with the idea that Page 3, or indeed any show of breasts or display of female flesh or sexual activity causes abuse and rape. I think that is a dangerous road to go down. I feel awful for any human who has suffered sexual harassment or abuse. I do not believe an image caused that, if all ‘sexual’ images were banned sexual harrassment, abuse and rape would still exist. The rate may indeed go up. I would fully back any campaign for sexual harassment to be taken seriously and to increase prosecution for rape and sexual assault. I do not believe if Page 3 is banned it will have any effect on these rates whatsoever. Men who verbally abuse you about your breasts do not need the excuse of Page 3, they will do regardless. Also, in an era where 8 year olds have iphones, and anyone sitting on the train could be reading, looking at or watching anything, is Page 3 seriously the most ‘offensive’ image a viewer could be looking at? And no, I don’t feel uncomfortable if sitting on a train and someone (not necessarily a man) is looking at a tabloid paper. I imagine most people look at Page 3 for 5 seconds then flip to the sports pages. If someone makes a sexual comment to me, (or anyone around me) too damn right I will say something.
Nor do I believe that breasts are obscene, or going to cause harm to children. And to be honest, I am sick of the moral panics surrounding any form of sex work. If you don’t like something or agree with it, respect. But the “save the children” argument is wearing pretty thin. Children experience most harm in the home, at the hands of their parents. Why not have a massive campaign about child sexual abuse?
The picture featured here is of topless dolls, yet Facebook closed the page down for ‘inappropriate content’. They are dolls for crying out loud! The page was later reinstated. But what does this tell us about the hysteria surrounding the female body? http://www.news.com.au/technology/facebook-says-doll-with-nipples-is-ok-restoring-image-on-victoria-buckleys-page/story-e6frfro0-1225890689799
The argument that the No More Page 3 campaign is not classist… I beg to differ!
I found an interesting quote online from a user named MartinWisse: “The snobbishness has struck me as irrational. They want the end of Page 3, but claim to be “sex positive” and pro porn. It’s as if pornography for the upper classes – tasteful monochrome Testino images of nudes, Mapplethorpe coffee table books or vintage Tom of Finland* prints are acceptable, yet accessible muck for the working classes is simply de trop. A catwalk show for a milliner featuring chilly looking models completely nude apart from the hat is applauded as high art: Sandra from Dagenham, in a pair of lacy pants, is not.”
It raises the much-debated point, what is porn? When is nudity acceptable? Surely what is indecent is subjective? I might find a nude photo in a fashion magazine to be artistic, someone else might be aroused by it, someone else will object. As Thomas Smith writes in The New Yorker (link below) “There’s something almost quaint about the argument that it’s pornography. Come the summer you’ll see the same sort of thing on beaches. It’s rather disturbing, the Victorian prudery against the naked form used by some, drawing the old artificial distinction between respectable “art” and “pornography” used before burning books”. We will in a visual culture, constantly plugged in to an internet where we can choose to access anything we want, you can’t censor that! And take a good long think about if you would want censorship. My best friend currently lives in China, she would tell you that you don’t!
My undergraduate dissertation looked at constructions of white deviance, specifically the white working-class woman as guardian of the race. It is a research area I am fascinated by, my PhD was originally going to investigate these issues. My blog post ‘Mean Girls and Slut Shaming’ gives a small insight into this. I started my undergraduate dissertation by looking at the work of Professor Bev Skeggs, and I have included the link below. Skeggs talks about the working class ‘chav’ body as “a body beyond governance” (2005, p.695). The working-class tabloids, and the largely working-class Page 3 girls who appear in them, cannot display femininity correctly. This is not ‘decent’ ‘respectable’ femininity, but bursting out of the seams, tacky, offensive. And it risks contaminating us all. We must take it away, censor it, ban it, it poses danger to all of society. Dr Imogen Tyler argues that large breasts are “a signifier of working-class female celebrity associated with glamour modelling and pornography” (Tyler & Bennett, 2010, p. 386). These models are deemed tasteless, vulgar, dirty. The working class woman’s body has long been under scrutiny and regulation. I also think the ‘NoMorePage3’ campaign is offensive towards working class men, that they are uneducated and brutish and cannot control themselves after looking at their trashy images. That they don’t know any better. That it is the likes of The Sun reader who is most likely to sexually harass you, not a nice middle-class man looking at his Pirelli calendar.
I have no doubt that Lucy started her sucessful campaign in good faith, indeed she has always been very polite in her communications with me. But there are a lot more issues at stake here especially regarding the implications of a woman’s body.
Some interesting links:
Tyler, I & Bennett, B (2010) ‘Celebrity Chav: Fame, femininity and social class’, European Journal of Cultural Studies, 13, pp.375-482
http://msmagazine.com/blog/2011/05/18/dossier-mag/ Censored Cover Raises Question: Why Are Breasts “Obscene,” But Not Chests?
http://magiczebras.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/175338742/ No More Page 3 Ignores So Much Other Shit
http://stavvers.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/why-i-never-signed-the-no-more-page-3-petition/ Why I Never Signed the Page 3 Petition
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCAxeF7CJRY @Thosepeskydames Page 3 and Bad Feminism