I have been so disappointed and saddened by the news that our delight over the achievement of #NoMorePage3 campaign had been premature, that I was not in a mood to write a Ladies Who Impress story today. Brave and inspiring women of No More Page 3 project have fought a relentless campaign since 2012, collecting over 200,000 signatures in a petition to convince The Sun to take the boobs off a ‘family newspaper’, and on Monday it seemed like their tenacity had finally paid off: the paper came out without its degrading trademark of objectification of women.
Today, it was business as usual with a topless model, labelled as “Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth”. Indeed, in the voice of Metro, “today The Sun has told all of those women that their appearance and sex appeal will always be more important than their voice.”
Back when I signed the petition a couple of years ago, I imagined my goddaughter, who turned five last week, growing up, coming across The Sun one day and wondering why a mainstream newspaper would display a photo like that. I wondered what I would say if she asked me to explain. I thought about her pretending to be ‘one of the lads’ when her male colleagues might flick the paper during a lunch break. I feared her worrying about her own body image and the development of her values. Would she bother aspiring to become good at her chosen vocation, develop a creative streak, if only for fulfilment, play football or rugby at school, which may be fun, but isn’t in line with what society deems to be worth displaying, not on page 3 anyway?
It’s not that I am prudish or against anyone showing off their assets and getting paid for it, like some some angry women on Twitter hastened to argue, but there are plenty of specialist publications and websites catering for the audience, which I am not going to judge. For me page 3 is a bit like a “Entrepreneur Barbie” – the only one in the “career” section on Barbie website, dressed in pink and, despite her gadgets, representing very little of what it might be like to start up a business. We want women to go into science and business, represent shareholder interests on boards, share domestic chores with their male partners, be offered equal opporunities and be judged by merit, yet here in 2015 we are staring at the pink elephant we inherited from the 1970s, which stinks of patriarchy.
And yet over the last couple of years we have achieved so much in the most unlikely fields: Irish Steph Roche was nominated for the FIFA’s goal of the year award; Oxford and Cambridge women will compete on the same Thames course as men in the annual Boat Race in 2015 and there are no all-male boards in FTSE100 companies as of July 2014. There are plenty of reasons to be cheerful and inspiration to spur us all on.
Once I got over my dismay, I realised that skipping a newsletter, celebrating women for their talents and achievements, creativity and fearlessness would be losing a battle and a war. If I only could, I’d put together a story to counterbalance every topless photo just to put a passionate businesswoman or a discerning correspondent into the spotlight. I will keep finding inspiring stories to put over cringeworthy images, and perhaps give Lucy-Anne Holmes a nod of encouragement to keep campaigning and empowering all of us to stay resilient against any setbacks.
It only takes a couple of minutes to sign a petition. You will not receive any newsletters or junk mail, but your time and voice will contribute to a worthy cause. Click here to sign a petition for #NoMorePage3.
This article was first published on Huffington Post.