Last week, after 44 years, it seemed the Sun newspaper might have relented about putting unfettered mammary glands on page 3 (or page 11 if something really tragic has happened, out of respect).
Page 3 began in November 1969 when Sun editor Larry Lamb (the paper was at this point edited by a Beatrix Potter character) took a chance whilst Rupert Murdoch was out of the country and printed a photo of 20-year-old Stephanie Rahn with no top on. I feel sorry for Rupert Murdoch: his editors are always doing stuff without telling him anything about it. You’d think he’d have learned to get a tighter grip on the reins by now.
For four decades feminists complained about this “Great British tradition” arguing that it objectified women, turning them into nothing but a pair of breasts. But they were wrong, because in some of the pictures you can also see women’s bums.
Others argue there’s nothing wrong with Page 3. It brightens up our mornings. We have a little gawp and a laugh at the accompanying text, giving an opinion about the news (as if a girl with no top on would know about current affairs!!) It’s on the breakfast table each morning, giving our daughters a valuable indication of how society views them and their place in the world.
But this isn’t just a feminist issue. Page 3 makes the UK look silly. Europeans think we’re insane. Even in Germany, with all the disgusting stuff they consider normal. If Germans think you’re a pervert then you know you’re doing something wrong.
We’re so used to it now we scarcely question whether bare breasts belong in a newspaper. You wouldn’t like it if they put news in your porn. “Oh, ja! It’s me, the plumber. Looks like I arrived just in time. But before I get out my big plumbing tool, it’s over to Kenneth Kendal with today’s new headlines…” That’d put you right off your stroke.
So was it really all over?
Of course not! Luckily it turned out that it was just one of News International’s cheeky, hilarious pranks, like the one that means no one buys the paper in Liverpool, or the one with the lying Fake Sheik, or the one when they erased messages from a dead girl’s phone. Those guys keep on punking us.
I decided to punk the Sun back. I tweeted, “Hey @TheSunNewspaper Delighted page 3 is back. But how about some mannips? You can use mine. Anyone else? #sunmannips” and attached a picture of my bare left nipple. I thought if the Sun love nipples so much they’d be delighted to see their Twitter feed fill up with hairy, useless man-nubbins. Hundreds of guys agreed and fought nipples with nipples. It was utterly disgusting and inappropriate. One follower of mine who had endured 44 years of female nipples in the Sun, unfollowed me angrily after just 8 hours of male nipplage. Interesting what offends.
We don’t need Page 3 any more. It’s a throwback to a Carry On England that we should have outgrown. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at bare ladies, but the other day I found a webpage where you can do that in private. It might be on google.
We need to grow up, fellas. If only out of self-interest. In France the men play it cool, women don’t feel objectified and they all sunbathe with their tops off. By pretending to be mature, French men get to see actual breasts. In real life! Not just some grainy photo on poor quality newspaper. We have much to learn.