So it looks like The Sun’s Page 3 has gone the way of the dodo. And to be honest, I don’t know how I feel about it.
First thing’s first, I don’t read The Sun. I don’t even look at the pictures. My dad still buys it every day, and for a while in my twenties I followed suit, but I haven’t bought a printed newspaper for seven or eight years—The Sun or any other paper, which itself says a lot about the newspaper industry. I’m of an age that should be a newspaper’s target market.
So, because I’m not a Sun reader, I feel somewhat uncomfortable about having an opinion about what should and should not be in the newspaper. But since that doesn’t stop other people, I’m not going to let it stop me either.
Page 3 is (or was) an anachronism. It’s a relic of the seventies and eighties and its passing will doubtless be mourned by very, very few. Let’s face it, you can see many, many more boobies with a simple Google search. Where once teenage boys would have huddled around The Sun in the school yard, they are now sharing much more explicit images on their phones.
But something about it annoys me and that’s the way in which a group of ‘feminists’—who also profess to not read the newspaper—have campaigned for the feature;s removal and are now celebrating a “great victory”.
The Sun has a daily circulation of around 2 million, making it the UK’s best-selling newspaper. That’s down from its height of around 4 million in the eighties. And yet, the #nomorepage3 twitter campaign has around 40,000 twitter followers and an online petition has around 220,000 signatures (that’s the figure quoted in the media today).
So a petition of around one tenth of the size of the newspaper’s readership—and I’m guessing most of the signatories almost certainly don’t even read the paper—have apparently dictated what the people who actually buy the paper can see in it.
The other issue is, of course, that “feminists” are supposed to be about increasing opportunities for woman and by campaigning against Page 3 they have shut down an opportunity for a group of women who made their careers from it. But then, we all know that some people who call themselves feminists are all in favour of Freedom of Choice—as long as you don’t choose something they disagree with. (Yes, I know not all feminists are like that, but you cannot deny that some of them very much are.)
The whole thing is grossly unfair.
Or at least, it would be if it were true. Which it’s not.
Make no mistake, the demise of Page 3 has almost nothing to do with hashtag campaigns and online petitions and everything thing to do with one Rupert Murdoch.
If the boss of News Corp had wanted Page 3 to remain, it would have remained. Make no mistake about that. Was he influenced by the campaigns? Possibly. But it’s probably got as much to do with the closure of The News of the World and the reasons for it, than it has to do with #nomorepage3
Murdoch is an astute business man. It’s no coincidence that The Sun has a tendency to back the right horse come a General Election—Murdoch can read the mood of a nation and he’s read that Page 3 has had its time.
Or has it? Page 3 will continue online behind a pay-wall. Will is thrive in this new format? Get bigger? Or maybe it’ll just earn Murdoch more money that way?
Let’s be clear, I will not miss Page 3. It has had no impact on my life since I was at school and used to sneak into the library with some other boys to get a quick look at Sam Fox’s knockers. But bare breasts will still appear in another newspaper, namely The Star. And it will be interesting to see what happens to the circulation of the two newspapers in the coming months. That could say an awful lot about “how far we’ve come” and “how far we still have to go”.