Comment: Banning page 3 is not the solution

The feminist war against the 'objectification of women' continues apace.

By Janice Atkinson-Small

This week, on the day the editor of The Sun gave evidence to the Leveson inquiry, a women's group called Platform 51 released polls apparently showing 'women across the UK call to ban page 3'. Full tables have not been released, and their polling of 2,000 people really shows that 58% of women either oppose a ban or don’t have an opinion– far more than those who are demanding a change. The lack of polling data means the same information for men is not available. The conclusion to draw from this is page 3 images are not an issue which resonates with the general public, male or female.

But the feministas will not be deterred from trying to censor what we see, and continue to turn their attention to those 'poor' page 3 girls. The Sun and the Star are constantly under fire by the shadow minister of culture, media and sport, Harriet Harman: "… it is not the right thing for women in the 21st century". She would be joined in her support by former Lib Dem MP, Evan Harris, and parliamentary undersecretary for equalities Lynne Featherstone.

In her drive for equality Ms Harman has not proposed to ban the popular ‘Torso of the Week’ in Heat magazine, nor those quaint little tea parties known as the hen night where women whoop and cheer at men stripping to earn a quick buck.

Evan, Lynne, Harriet and the feminista folk – women can be sexually alluring just as men can be sexually alluring. Where should it stop? Should we ban all photos of women and men lest someone somewhere finds them titillating? Remember the Coke TV advert where women in the office drool over a rather handsome and more-than-slightly sexy window cleaner or the Levi TV advert where a buff man strips down to his Calvin Klein's to wash his jeans?

The media industry is a business and it uses images of men and women to titillate because there is a demand. It is not the role of government to get involved by banning them. If public opinion has moved on and the newspapers decide these images don't sell the rag anymore, that's up to them. Men and women are sexual beings. Who should decide what we can and what cannot see, what might be just a little too titillating or damned as 'sexualisation'?

Trying to blame cultural inequality (which has existed and evolved over centuries) on the objectification of consenting women smacks of desperation. The causes are much more complex and more difficult to address – perhaps why they are so often glossed over in favour of headline-grabbing solutions which achieve nothing.

The feministas' views do not represent ordinary women – the feminist left never has. Most women are too busy running a home, keeping a job down and looking after the children to worry about page 3 girls and if they did give them a second thought they wouldn’t be offended. When they sit down with a coffee, they are probably looking at Torso of the Week in Heat magazine rather than worrying with Ms Harman about the 'poor' page 3 girls.

Janice Atkinson-Small is communications director of Women On…, an independent non-partisan think-tank that aims to transform the debate around women.

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