Why I’m a feminist and support No More Page 3

no more page 3Stephanie Davies-Arai is mother of four children and is all about communication, she’s qualified to teach a recognised programme of communication skills for parents and teachers but she likes to speak up on other issues too, here she tells us why she’s supporting the No More Page Three campaign

It was 1971 when I first saw Page 3, I was twelve and flicking through the newspapers at home. It felt like a huge slap in the face. My next memory is the workmen at my school showing it to me when I was fifteen. This time it was like a punch in the stomach, but by then I had internalised its existence as normal.

Women of my generation could only live in relation to Page 3. It was part of my culture, the air that I breathed, and it would help to inform my life and my relationships.

My generation was the first – ever, in history! – that had to navigate a mainstream cultural landscape which sent us – every day! – a salient reminder that we were nothing but a sexual commodity for men. That was our backdrop, our wallpaper. We all developed different strategies to deal with it – you know, the usual stuff: denial, depression, pretence, competition. (I developed a hard, careless cool persona and went off the rails a bit since you ask).

Expecting a 12-year-old to deconstruct her culture’s messages is a big ask, it would be like asking a fish to define water. I was not able to stand back and think ‘Ugh! What kind of culture is this that allows sleazy old newspaper editors to abuse their position by paying young women to display their breasts publicly??!’

I think that now though. Really. What kind of culture would allow that?

In no other area of society do we design things to cater primarily to the interests of adolescent boys. We don’t, for example, plan motorways to suit boy-racers. We don’t designate stretches of the M25 as race tracks and then shrug our shoulders and say ‘hey it’s just a bit of fun! If you don’t like it don’t drive there’.

So I look back and think Hey! My generation was part of a big cultural experiment, and it FAILED! It hasn’t made us a more laid-back, accepting, freely-sexual, ‘comfortable with nudity’ right-on society!  LOOK! It’s made us into a body-anxious, insecure LAD CULTURE!! Depression in women has doubled since 1970. That daily ‘bit of fun’ didn’t work for us then.

Page 3 silenced a generation of women. It redefined a ‘feminist’ as a ‘prude’.

I don’t buy that though. And I am no longer silent. I have a teenage daughter of my own now and I can help her to be able to think the thoughts it was impossible for me to think in 1971. So now I am a feminist loud and proud!! And I am thrilled to have been asked to join the nomorepage3 campaign set up by Lucy-Anne Holmes.

no more page 3I have watched this campaign become the biggest mobilising force for women (and men) to challenge the culture we have created for our children. Page 3 was the first, it is the most iconic, it is the public SYMBOL of the culturally accepted objectification of women, so the success of this campaign would be the most powerfully symbolic victory. That’s why I’m on board.

But it’s also for the 12-year-old me. I wish she’d known back then that she’d be doing this one day.

Stephanie Davies-Arai can be found on her blog Communicating with Kids on Twitter and on Facebook too.

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  1. A.
    10 April 2013 / 09:30

    I’m sorry but this campain is 43 years too late, reguardless of the image of womens breast in a newspaper is nothing compared with nipples in films with no relation to the script. This campaign is trying to promote positive body image. Printed media is dying and the internet allows my generation those born in the 90’s and subsequent to have seen more boobs than i dare to imagine.

    Moreover linking depression figures and claiming that, it is a substantial factor of depression increases as implied in this article is rediculous. Just as an attitude of acceptance towards seeing breast in media has occured, the stigma of depression is lifting and more people are seeking help than in the 70’s using miss leading facts only dilutes your message.

    It is niave to believe this issue has relevance in todays society especially for a post 90’s generation. If you do wish to teach your daughter something, teach her to strive for equal pay in the work place, shift focus to the beauty of intelligence, exceling through learning and respecting yourself enough to be paid as much as the man standing next you.

    It is appauling that unequal pay is not spoken about in todays society. This is what you should teach your daughter, reclaim your boobs and your view of them for ultimately i do not wish to live in 2013 where having breasts means my work is less valued than a mans.

    • Consider this
      10 April 2013 / 15:55

      I think this campaign is striving to see that women and men are able to focus on issues other than narcissism, exhibitionism and Voyeirism. One campaign cannot fight on all fronts but its supporters are able to address more than one concern.

    • 10 April 2013 / 16:54

      Thanks for your comments. Better late than never I think! I do recognise that there are lots of boobs around, but being objectified in a family newspaper daily as if that’s all women are worth hinders women being taken seriously. The girl guides have just shown us that this issue is in fact very relevant to young women today.

      In their words: ‘It is impossible to nurture your ambitions if you are constantly told that you aren’t the same as your male equivalent…We need to get used to the idea that women are not for sale’.

      Equal pay is another issue that really concerns me, and I teach my daughter lots of things. Displaying women as just bodies on Page 3 is one thing that holds us back from being valued equally in our society – after all, it doesn’t happen to men.

  2. 10 April 2013 / 10:38

    Great article. I totally agree. I am so tired of the hyper sexualisation of women in our culture.

  3. Helen Saxby
    10 April 2013 / 18:18

    Brilliant article, really sums it up. I’ve grown up with Page 3 too and although we all know there’s far worse out there if you look for it, the whole problem with Page 3 is that you don’t have to look for it – well, not very hard anyway, it pops up everywhere, often when you’re least expecting it. And that means, to young girls growing up, that somehow society accepts it and condones it. That’s where the damage to self-esteem happens : objectification as social norm. So – lots of other battles still to be won but why not get behind this one too? I think it’s brilliant and brave of these young women to tackle this issue through the No More page 3 Campaign and I am behind them all the way!