Page 3 models can either be viewed as independent, sexually empowered women or as sexual objects. The fact that society views them as the latter is indicative of a problem in society, not a problem with the newspapers. These women are sexualised but they should not be seen as objects.
The argument that Page 3 encourages rape culture exemplifies this perfectly: Page 3 does not cause rape, rapist cause rape. By blaming Page 3, some of the responsibility, which should be so very firmly placed on the rapist’s shoulders, is removed from them. Page 3 is not the cause of a societal problem but acts as a very good reflection to the attitudes that do.
The British generally view sex as illicit and this is where the problem lies. By making sex a taboo subject, sexual acts are rendered sordid, which should not be the case. Our bodies are designed for sex and reproduction, therefore, why is the general public so ashamed and uncomfortable about the topic?
Sexual education in schools focuses far too much on the dangers of sex and not enough on the pleasurable aspect. This has been linked to Britain’s very high teen pregnancy rate, as it fosters irresponsible attitudes, especially in boys. However, it can also be linked to men viewing women as sexual objects designed for their pleasure because the joint pleasure aspect is not emphasised. It is this skewed attitude that means glamour models are objectified.
It is true that The Sun creates a gender imbalance by only having female models – having a similar page dedicated to male models could easily rectify this. In fact, dedicating pages to both male and female models would balance the division in sexual expectations that are currently present between men and women. By giving it a gender-balanced stance, it removes the one-sided appeal of the paper, making it accessible to all.
It is right to say that the fantasy element of glamour modelling presents women’s roles as providing male pleasure. This is true and does present an issue in society but only because men do not have the same role thrust upon them. Women should view men as being able to provide the same amount of sexual pleasure and enjoyment as they offer them. Having a male glamour model would produce such an effect, as men would become sexual fantasies to women.
Men’s sexual fantasies and urges are normalised and accepted, women’s are not. Women who are sexually liberated and open are seen as predatory and dirty: the derogatory term ‘slut’ illustrates this perfectly. The sexual fantasies and urges of both sexes must be normalised in order to foster a healthier and more positive approach to sex and The Sun provides the perfect national platform for this. Moreover, the West is incredibly critical of Muslim men ‘subjugating’ their women by making them cover their bodies. But by banning Page 3 would we not be exemplifying similar notions?
By claiming Page 3 models are in opposition to equal gender rights, not only are we alienating women from a female cause but also dictating what is an appropriate career path for women. Women have campaigned tirelessly to be able to do what they want with their bodies but the women behind the No More Page 3 campaign are in effect dictating what women should and should not do.
By abolishing Page 3, not only will no there be no major societal changes but a major, potential platform for balanced sexual liberation and expression would be eliminated too. The criticism against Page 3 is being completely misdirected and we should be campaigning for a male model page alongside the female one. The social taboos around sex need to be broken down and Page 3 has the ability to do this as well as promote gender equality.
Illustration: Asher Klassen