“What view on women and sex are we giving the generation that’s coming after us?” asked Lucy Holmes, founder of the No More Page Three Campaign, during a speech in Hackney earlier this week.
Holmes started her campaign in September 2012, as a fight against the convention of female nudity on the page three of “family newspaper,” The Sun. She has so far collected 125,687 signatures of support.
As part of her campaigning, Holmes spoke this week at the Shoreditch Sisters Women Institute group, about the issues surrounding media portrayal of women.
Shortly after her speech Holmes told ELL: “It started as a personal campaign. Last summer I bought The Sun and was reading about Jessica Ennis and the women of team GB, which really showed how the Olympics was a great time for women… I didn’t see a page three model and I didn’t see a model on page 5 and I thought ‘oh, they’ve dropped page three while the Olympics is on, that’s great, this is a good thing.”
She continued: “Suddenly I got to page 13 and there was suddenly the massive image of a beautiful young woman in her knickers, it felt like someone had slapped me in the face and told me it was a man’s world.”
It became a light-bulb moment, sparking Holmes’ awareness of how women are potentially perceived because of page three. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Holmes recalled.
She asks: “What is this saying about a women’s place in society? It’s a family newspaper, what is it teaching little girls about where their values lay and what is it teaching little boys about the way to respect women? It made me feel weird and it made me feel sad.”
Since then Holmes has used various media platforms to promote her cause and gain support. She has found page three to be a topic not all media outlets are comfortable addressing.
“One of the phrases that I hear the most in connection to these pictures is ‘cor! Look at the tits on that’,” said Holmes. “I go on radio a lot and I love talking about that phrase because the DJ will always go ‘we apologise for the language’ and I say don’t apologise for the word tits, apologise for the word that.
“Suddenly the woman becomes an object, she becomes dehumanised and history shows us that when we dehumanise people, pretty sh***y stuff happens.”
Many national organisations and charities such as Unison and British Youth Council have openly supported Holmes’ campaign. In a column published by The Independent, Holmes stated:
“The page three image is there for no other reason than the sexual gratification of men. She’s a sex object. But when the figures range from 300,000 women being sexually assaulted and 60,000 raped each year, to one in four who have been sexually assaulted, is it wise to be repeatedly perpetuating a notion that women are sexual objects?”
The Shoreditch Sisters used Holmes’ speech as an opportunity to voice their opinion on female sexuality. One Shoreditch Sister said: “If it was really about sexual freedom it wouldn’t just be women of a particular age and type – it’s just showing a stereotyped reductive packaged sexuality which is very pernicious for both men and women.”
The Sun has already dropped page three in its Irish edition and many involved in the campaign are confident that it will not be long until the UK version follows suit.