It is unlike The Sun to do anything quietly, but this morning saw an apparent end to the ‘star attraction’ of the controversial newspaper – a very unremarkable farewell to the infamous and downright demeaning Page 3 feature.
Whatever its intended purpose – a celebration of female “natural” beauty, or a harmless bit of fun – The Sun has taken pride in its third page slot for nearly 50 years. It has proven popular with most readers, its ego big enough to withstand the backlash and hoards of criticism from campaigners who have slated it for promoting female objectification.
“Turn the page if you’re offended” has been the generic, matter-of-fact ‘solution’ for this exhibition of softcore pornography, which each day has a different topless glamour model pose for the cameras.
Indeed, The Sun is hardly the kind of newspaper to leave lying around the family home. But with freedom of the press comes the right to publish, within reason, whatever you damn well like. Who’s to stop the printing of such photographs? Who’s stop these Page 3 models bearing all to the nation if that’s a choice they have voluntarily made?
And yet with mounting societal pressure and a new, thriving wave of feminism, it seems political correctness is the only driving force behind the sheepish demise of the feature. The Sun isn’t interested in gender imbalance, or doing the right thing – you’re having a laugh, aren’t you?
If they’d stood up and declared “YES. We totally understand the pejorative message of Page 3 and its objectification of women. No more boobies in our paper. Fuck the patriarchy”, I’d say this was a well-fought victory for feminists all round. Good job, lords and ladies.
But a timid announcement in The Times? How very out of character, and how very disappointing.