Belfast Telegraph

Here's naked truth about Page 3, it really isn't a bit of harmless fun

By Jane Graham

It's hard being a feminist libertarian. Sounds really dull, definitely not sexy, quite frowny-faced and "down with this sort of thing, but I'd defend to the death your right to do it" confusing. Often makes it hard to take a firm position regarding issues where freedom of expression clashes with dodgy social stereotyping.

Like, for instance, Page 3. I grappled. I considered the claims that Page 3 is about a glamour model's right to express herself.

In the end, I concluded that Page 3 is a big, fat, stupid, sexist joke. That decision was not one of the great challenges of my intellectual life.

Context continually gets bigged-up. "Context is everything." Everyone's aware of the big talk about context. Yet when the nation's chatterers get jawing, they usually prefer to ignore it.

Most of the arguments bandied about on radio phone-ins, social media, online message boards and by those kings of public debate, taxi-drivers (I've had two helpfully explain the joy of Page 3 this week), appear to disregard context as a whiney irritant.

Because applying it often demands a time-consuming case-by-case consideration of an issue. Which messes up the me-in-a-nutshell principles people like to brandish like kids showing off One Direction badges.

Inconveniently, however, the wise old owls are right. Context really is everything. And it knocks every argument for Page 3 out of the park.

These are the most common defences of Page 3, all of which have had a good airing this week in light of The Sun apparently dropping, then "playfully" re-introducing, their controversial nipples. They're all nonsense, and here's why:

1) "Page 3 is part of a centuries-old tradition of men enjoying looking at naked women." Uuuh, yeah - so what? Countries doing things for ages doesn't mean those things must be cool.

Using black people as slaves had a grand old history before some do-gooder decided it wasn't right any more. And Abraham Lincoln usually gets a decent write-up these days.

2) "Far more extreme images can be found online." Yes, but as most of us agree that children accessing these images is a bad thing; why cheer on a family newspaper offering early-stage titillation?

Also, not liking Page 3 doesn't make you against pornography. Porn among cornflakes and news stories, waved around in offices and on trains; no. Porn sought out by adults to enjoy privately; knock yourself out.

3) "Page 3 is popular among Sun readers." Well, Nigel Farage is popular among Ukip supporters, that doesn't prove he's good for British society.

No one forces you to buy The Sun, but it sits at kids' eye height in newsagents, its pages are often found scattered over bus floors.

And all women have to live, and bring up their children, among blokes whose belief that women's finest contribution to mankind is a pair of pert young boobs is bolstered every day in The Sun.

4) "You can see naked breasts on beaches all over the world." Yup, you can. The difference is, photos of the youngest and most attractive of these women, with the men and less fanciable women around them edited out, are not placed in public places among information about important business that (mainly men) are doing. It's that ruddy context thing again.

5) "It's harmless fun." Prove to me the men who've been living on a daily diet of strangers' boobs accompanying their breakfast are the ones who most respect women, who promote them, vote for them, seek out their opinion when it comes to politics, or business, and I'll take it all back. Until then, harmless my (t*ts &) ass.

James was blunt, but in the wrong

Like most people, I enjoyed James Blunt’s gleefully potty-mouthed letter to Labour MP Chris Bryant.

It’s always fun when pop stars, even those who have used their talent for self-deprecating one-liners to block out memories of their rubbish songs, go for po-faced MPs.

How annoying, then, that Bryant’s contention that a career in the arts is more accessible to rich kids and those with industry-connected families is correct.

And that to choose to take it as a personal slight, which necessitates a public explanation about how hard one worked to get a hit record, suggests one might be a self-aggrandising fool.

Nothing funny in this Oscar snub

People say it’s good the Oscar nominations are often nonsensical, as it gives us something to talk about.

Just as they say it’s good that football referees make stupid decisions, cos if they didn’t, what would we argue about in the pub?

I regard both viewpoints as risible. Injustice is not justifiable on chat-fodder grounds. Injustice is wrong. Especially if it means one of the funniest films of the year, with that rarest of movie qualities — originality — and that most delightful of men, Chris Pratt is completely ignored.

No Lego Movie in Best Animated Picture? Biggest Hollywood scandal since Brad left Jen for Angie.

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