Guest Post: No More Page 3 Update, by Lisa Clarke.

Another guest post for you: this might look like tremendous laziness on my part but I’ve always thought Beestonia works well when it’s not just a couple of thousand of my words thrown at you each week, but comprised of different voices from all over our town. If you’d like to submit a piece, I’d be more than delighted to recieve it and, as long as it isn’t legally dodgy, overtly offensive or just a collection of florid words describing my awfulness, then I’ll publish here.

Usual disclaimers apply; over to Lisa:

Wow! Quite a lot has happened since I last wrote a bog about the No More Page 3 campaign for Beestonia. At that time I was involved on the outskirts, with quiet determination, trying to draw support and signatures to a campaign that , for reasons I didn’t completely understand had captured my heart.
I ran two local demo’s that were both well received. Then over Christmas thing went quiet. I thought nothing of it at first when the usually buzzing facebook group seemed less busy and put it down to the distractions of the season. But well into new year there still seemed to be little sign of life and I all but thought the campaign may be about to fold. Then something amazing happened. The fabulous, bubbly, determined young woman Lucy Holmes who I had only seen in her comical online videos about the campaign sent me an email. A long and heartfelt email explaining that she had put quite literally everything of herself into this campaign and was spent. She was reaching out to a small group of us that she had spotted through the networks for help and she seemed less than confident of a positive response. My goodness did she get one! We were all excited, thrilled and flattered to have been picked out and there are now 8 of us on the No More Page 3 team or NMP3HQ as we call ourselves. Most of us have never met and the whole thing is co-ordinated online through social networks. We are all busy people with jobs, often young children and lots of other things going on but we have this amazing determination in common – to improve the representation of women in the UK media starting by removing the sexist 1970’s dinosaur that is Page 3.

Within 24 hours of the new group forming our private site was alive with ideas – involving more students, universities, schools, gong after The Sun’s advertisers, drawing more popular support. Amongst the ideas that Lucy had noted down was tweeting Rupert Murdoch himself and we started to do this straight away, giving him an occasional update. Then after a day of Men against Page 3 was really well received across Facebook and Twitter we decided to run the following Sunday with a “Tweet Rupert Murdoch day”. He must have received 100s of tweets but responded to just 1. A supporter named Karen who simply suggested page 3 was “So last century”. The rest is a bit of history now that was splashed across national media for much of the following week whilst we at NMP3HQ attempted to deal with press interview after interview. Interestingly we have done a hell of a lot of international TV and newspaper interviews with most of Europe seemingly fascinated by this story and all utterly perplexed at the “strange Brits” having something like Page 3 still around. They, without exception see it as bizarre. It was all a bit of a whirlwind of activity but with us never quite making it onto our own TV screens owing to the pope who decided to retire the next day. Most inconvenient timing.
So this just about brings us up to speed, with the issue now constantly ticking away in the media and the pro-page 3 mob clearly very rattled. Presumably not helped by the fact that, despite the awful coverage of Reeva Steenkamps tragic death/murder, page 3 has been absent from The Sun 3-4 times already this year which, we have on good authority is unusual. It seems the end may be in sight, except we all know it isn’t an end….

Yesterday I was interviewed (little old me *snort) by a Times journalist who quotes me in an article saying “The Sun, as the top-selling paper, has a brilliant opportunity to change things for women in this country, and to present them in an equal, non-objectified way,..But unfortunately, it chooses not to accept that opportunity. Page 3 is part of that, but it’s certainly not the whole picture.” I was over the moon to have the opportunity to say that and it should have been a really good day. Sadly two other things happened yesterday -The Sun ran again with no traditional page 3 but instead photographs from a playboy bunny beach shoot (the model wore a bikini top! Whoop de doo) and a petition was started, seemingly by page 3 girls who were up in arms that they may no longer be able to pose topless as they want to in the newspaper and would no longer therefore be able to continue their important charity work and their morale building visits to troops in Afghanistan etc.

I have had a sleepless night (again) trying to marry this reality with the world that I like to think I’m living in.

You see….in the world I would like to be in there are newspapers with news, current affairs and features. These papers may at times focus on sex or sexual issues, they may also focus on glamour but they do it proportionately and equally. They ensure that nobody of any particular gender, race or creed is singled out for exploitation or public undressing. These newspapers make sure that at the very least when a woman is brutally beaten or murdered by her partner the murder/rape/assault is treated as that. As a crime against a woman who is worthy of respect by a man who allegedly has behaved in a deplorable fashion.
The world I would like to be in has newspapers and media that showcase young people’s talent.  Sometimes that may be their looks but it may also be their hard work and ability. The media support these extraordinary young people in carrying out charity work. They take amazing young musicians/artists to Afghanistan to entertain the male and female troops there. They may even take a model sometimes, female or male.

The world I would like to live in would stop putting pictures of young women in a national newspaper for men’s titillation (there are other publications for that which don’t make it onto family dining tables and into family restaurants) and start treating all women, regardless of their allure with respect. It would certainly not however immediately stop supporting the models it has encouraged to pose topless all this time but would continue it’s fabulous charity work and indeed expand the opportunity to give all young people a chance to be a part of that. It wouldn’t in a million years consider only supporting, in this charity and overseas work, a certain demographic of young, mostly white women of say, below size 14 dress size and it would surely to goodness not only take the ones who are willing to undress for the privilege? Surely not!

Sadly when I wake up it seems this is not the world I am living in, not yet anyway. So until then on with the fight…