The Sun's tits

c: | f: /

Depending on your viewpoint, the title of this post could either be about Page 3 models in the Sun newspaper or a statement of fact about the quality of its content. Guess you’ll have to read on to find out.

Rupert Murdoch’s concerted efforts to destroy the planet through culling trees to make into newspaper has hardly changed since as far back as I can remember. Its sensationalist headlines and stories are every bit as vacuous as those found in The Daily Mail or The Mirror, and have been for decades. What sets it apart from the other drains on our natural resources (including broad sheets) is The Sun’s long-standing practice at plonking a topless model on page three.

The other day I received an email from SumOfUs over concerns about the editors of The Sun offering a date with a page three model as a prize in some football-related raffle. Normally, both 38 Degrees and SumOfUs choose exceptional battles to help we, the people, fight back against corporate control and government meddling. If you haven’t already, I wholeheartedly recommend joining the cause. In this isolated case, however, I found the tone of the email somewhat misleading. Allow me to explain.

The crux of the message is that Murdoch (and “his cronies”, mentioned many times) are demeaning and offending women by putting up this objectionable raffle prize. The email also implies The Sun should stop putting nudity in their papers, or be forced onto the top shelf along with all the other jazz mags. While trying to eat cornflakes staring at a pair of artificial jugs and an accompanying pun-laden bio is not my bag, I think this time the SumOfUs battle is misguided. Here’s a sentence from the email, emphasis mine:

If we come together and pressure the UK edition to drop this ridiculous and offensive “prize”, we could get them to start giving us real news — and not the daily objectification of women’s bodies.

Steady on! Removing one full-page photo is hardly going to change the tone of the remaining content. I somehow doubt if all of a sudden the stories would become factual. It goes on:

Page 3 perpetuates a culture where women are seen first and foremost as objects of desire, not people. Considering the reach of its distribution, it’s certain that children see… ‘soft porn in a family newspaper’ in their homes.

Interesting. Last time I heard the “news” on the radio at dinner time with my five-year-old, there was a non-story about a family who had been arrested for legitimately exercising their right to question our health care system, numerous murders, and a report detailing how a group of brave people were being shot at by Israelis and other meddling countries while simply trying to defend their homeland.

Last time I cared to cast an eye over BBC’s six-o’clock news on TV, there was a lead story glamorizing and endorsing Israeli airstrikes, complete with harrowing video footage of dead people lining the streets of an Israeli community to justify it. That’s at six pm. The video is available to download at any time of day by any kid whose parents have stupidly bought them a phone or a tablet, and SumOfUs are worried about the long-term effects on our children of a pair of tits in a paper their dad buys?

I’m not defending The Sun here: the sooner that pox masquerading as information and its owners/editors die, the better for us and our beleaguered planet. But let’s gain a bit of perspective. The types of father who buy The Sun in the first place and expect it to contain news are either deluding themselves, football junkies, or going to exclaim “cor, look at those bazongas!” in front of their kids anyway. Whichever way you slice it, the children in those environments are likely to have a warped outlook on life and probably women, whether the paper prints boobies or not.

Further, if we take the stance that viewing naked breasts is immoral or objectionable, does that mean the state will intervene in future if parents don’t lock their bedroom doors while getting dressed, in case their progeny see an errant nipple and think women are all sex objects? Where would it end? Why make such a song and dance about a couple of body parts? Would it be any more acceptable if it was a male model on page three with his rippling abs out for girls to drool over? Or showing his toned bum?

As parents, we should try and instil boundaries of what’s private, and where the social limits of appropriate behaviour lie. Hiding nudey bits away and getting hysterical over them isn’t going to help, it just draws attention to them. Letting your kids watch the “news” before they’re old enough to comprehend the reality that it’s not a game (or, uhhh, that it is all a game, depending on your view) is verging on child abuse. You wouldn’t let them watch a fifteen-rated, fictional movie about war, but you’ll let them watch real people shooting each other in various parts of the world? That’s just wrong.

With all that said, I do hope The Sun, and in fact all newspapers, disappear into obscurity very soon. Through my utopian and somewhat rose-tinted spectacles, a ‘stop buying newspapers’ campaign would be far more effective. That would have the benefit of removing the Page 3 issue altogether and also give my boy a chance of inheriting a world with a breathable atmosphere.

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