A few weeks back, a petition to end normalized objectification of women was initiated in Britain. The British newspaper The Sun is (again) under scrutiny for its blatant sexualization of women’s bodies, and mostly so women’s breasts. In 1970, The Sun started featuring topless women on page 3 in the paper; since then, these women have been referred to as ”Page 3 Girls.” Having lived in Dublin, Ireland and having spent time in Britain, I am quite familiar with the concept of “Page 3 Girls,” and it has always bothered me.
The concept of having a “Page 3” is very inappropriate and borderline disgusting; the blatant sexualization of women in this newspaper suggests that these topless photos appeal to, and are appreciated by, everyone: women, men, and young people. To me, the idea that normative sexualization of women is good family fun is bothersome because the sexualization of women’s bodies have real-life consequences and is not the least bit enjoyable.
In circumstances such as this, it is not uncommon to hear that women’s bodies are beautiful and should be celebrated (often by a sexualized half-naked display of some sorts); and indeed, I hear this type of excuse all the time. Women who disagree that nudity is the best way to showcase the beauty of women’s bodies are sometimes described as jealous, fat, ugly, prudish, and unwilling to celebrate the beauty of the female body; in short, they are presented as anti-women.
An article in The Guardian summed up the issue well when it stated that, “Since Page 3 began, in November 1970, the most prominent daily newspaper image of a woman has been smiling, and topless.” This suggests that women are, and should be, happy to be sexualized and receive sexual attention. But I don’t think that nudity is the best way to appreciate women’s bodies.
If women want to pose for page 3 photos, and if men want to buy so called “lads’ magazines,” that’s up to them. And that is why there are specific magazines that target this audience. What I don’t want, however, is to open up a newspaper and see this type of sexualization presented as if it is no big deal. That is why I have signed the petition to end the sexualization of women in The Sun.
Photo of newspapers shared by NS Newsflash on Flickr