LAUREN BRAVO: How to explain ‘page 3’

IT’S a pretty good rule of thumb, when wanting to test the sense of any life situation, to ask yourself: how would I explain this to a child? If you can’t communicate the logic of something in simple terms a kid can grasp, there’s a good chance it might be completely stupid.

I don’t often ask much from you, dear reader – just the silent plea that you don’t draw nose hair on my byline picture – but today I’d like you to do something for me. I’d like you to think about how you would explain the existence of Page 3 to a child who has never encountered it before. Go on – have the imaginary conversation in your head now. I’ll wait.

Tricky, isn’t it? Because when you stop to think about it, Page 3 is like a naff old curtain pelmet from the 70s that everyone has somehow forgotten to take down. I like to think that when it finally ceases to be, just like smoking in restaurants, it’ll simply seem incredible it was ever allowed in the first place.

The explain-it-to-a-child reason is just one of many being currently given by people signing the No More Page 3 petition on change.org. At the time of writing, it has more than 16,000 signatures. The campaign, an open letter to The Sun’s editor Dominic Mohan, was started by writer Lucy Anne Holmes when she noticed, flicking through its coverage of the Paralympics, that despite page after page of awesome achievements, the biggest image of a woman in the whole paper was still the semi-naked one in her knick knacks.

“George Alagiah doesn’t say, ‘And now let’s look at Courtney, 21, from Warrington’s bare breasts,’ in the middle of the 6 O’ Clock News, does he?” reasons Holmes. Because the petition isn’t about condemning glamour models, or the people who like to look at them – it’s simply about asking, nicely, that they be taken out of the newspaper. Because, boobs aren’t news.

One argument commonly touted, of course, is empowerment. Or that the women who pose on Page 3 are actually exploiting the punters, as a sort of penance for being so easily pleased by a casual flash of mammary. But rather than debate the endless intricacies of the power struggle, I want to ask: why does anyone have to exploit anyone? Can’t we just, you know, take a break from all the exploiting for a while? If two wrongs don’t make a right, surely two exploitations don’t make a real advancement for either gender.

“It’s just a bit of fun,” is another classic. Of course! Fun! Like a naughty seaside postcard! Where’s the harm? The harm is in yet another generation of humans growing up to believe a woman’s worth is measured by how good she looks in her scanties. The harm is in giving these women fake “novelty” opinions, to remind us that you can’t be attractive AND interested in the fiscal crisis.

If you want fun, there are plenty of other places to find it. Go to a funfair. Have an ice cream. Or, if you must, look at a publication that’s intended to have naked women in it.

And let Courtney, 21 from Warrington, put her jumper back on, so we never have to explain to a confused child why she’s there.