Petition to Dominic Mohan: Take the Bare Boobs Out of The Sun

Nineteen days ago, I signed Lucy-Anne Holmes’ petition, calling for The Sun to end the practice of including topless women in their newspaper. I don’t remember the exact number of signatures it had collected at that point, but I believe it was in the hundreds. Just over 500 perhaps, certainly fewer than a thousand.

Since then, the petition has seriously gained momentum. Featured in The Guardian at least three times, as well as in foreign newspapers, the tally has hit 21 303 supporters at time of writing, and is shooting up rapidly. In fact, the last 10 000 signatures were collected in the last three days alone, and as @NoMorePage3′s twitter feed proclaims, “This is only the beginning.”

The first topless Page Three model appeared in The Sun on 17 November 1970. SInce then, it has become a tradition, with newspapers in other countries embracing the concept too. Today, according to the National Readership Survey, The Sun enjoys the largest readership in the UK, with an overall average readership of 17.8 million a month, across both print and online mediums. Given its wide circulation, as well as its marketing itself as a family newspaper, The Sun’s participation in the routine exploitation of women’s bodies is despicable, and highly irresponsible.

Perhaps The Sun needs to be reminded of what a newspaper’s purpose is. It is to inform the public of significant events, both locally and around the world, to provide insightful commentary on society, and to be a platform for intellectual discussion. A large picture of a topless woman has no place in it. It is bad enough as a standalone picture, but when taken together with the rest of the paper, it becomes far more problematic.

You see, looking through the articles that The Sun has to offer, one finds that the representation of women is very narrow indeed. Women appear as victims (“2 Female Cops Shot Dead”), mothers (“Amber Rose flashes her baby bump”), sexual objects (“Selma Blair’s baby bares her boob in public”, “Birthday Girl Catherine is Too Darn Hot”, “Pixie Lott Flashes a Load of Leg (and a bit of bra) at LFW”) or wives/girlfriends (“Liberty Ross Finds New Man After Hubby’s Fling With Kristen Stewart”). These representations culminate with the biggest female offering in the paper – a naked pair of breasts on page three, and speaks volumes about how women, and their role in society, are viewed by editors and readers of The Sun.

This is not the first time that their casual objectification of women has come under fire. In the mid-80s, Labour MP Clare Short campaigned against it, and renewed her bid in 2004. In response, The Sun unleashed a barrage of vitriol against her, calling her ‘fat’ and ‘jealous’, and asking readers to vote on whether they’d rather see Clare Short or the back end of a bus. By choosing to attack her by criticising her looks instead of engaging with her on an intellectual level, they demonstrated how completely they had missed the point, and actually strengthened Clare’s argument by proving that the objectification of women goes hand in hand with the idea that a woman’s sexual attractiveness is the main thing she has to offer.

Needless to say, I am excited about the new petition and would urge everyone to sign it. Page 3 opposers have hitherto been swept aside, silenced by the raw, hulking power of the patriarchy. But I have a feeling that this time, they will no longer succeed in silencing us. And no matter what happens now, our voices have spoken. We have said that the objectification and degradation of women on a daily basis is not acceptable, and you can be sure that this message will be heard loud and clear.

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16 thoughts on “Petition to Dominic Mohan: Take the Bare Boobs Out of The Sun

  1. I am not for censorship. But I agree that this sort of thing doesn’t belong in a newspaper. Signed, and shared.

  2. What also makes me uncomfortable about The Sun’s page 3 girls is how young they actually are! The age range of these models is about 18 to 23, which is a significant time period for character growth and maturity development. I’m sure there were things I would have been more lenient and less responsible toward as a 19 year old, in contrast to my 24 year old present day. I feel as though The Sun takes advantage of these women’s vulnerable positions by giving them the ability to ultilise a life-changing avenue. Don’t actively support an 18 year old’s choice to become a sexual object.

    The age range is not only creepy (yeah, let’s have the nation gawk at a teenager with her tits out, shall we?), but it also creates an ideal that to be a sexually attractive woman is to be young. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I mean, maybe those who have been over the age of consent for several years, instead of 2, perhaps?

    Either way, young or old, I do not tolerate the sexual objectification of the female body. Signed.

    • They’ve had 16 year olds in there as well! You’re right – taking advantage of a girl growing up in a culture that tells her that her body is the most important thing about her, then claiming that it was her ‘free and empowered choice’ is completely dishonest.

  3. I view this issue a little differently. While the tone of the newspaper may be to sexualize women, is it not a bigger problem that women’s breasts are so sexualized? Why can men walk around topless and no one bats an eye, but it is unseemly (and illegal in many places) for women to do the same? I am from Guelph, Ontario, where in the 80′s a woman bravely stepped out topless. Because of her, it is legal for women in Canada to be topless. Every summer in Guelph, there is now a topless festival in downtown, celebrating the step that women have made to being viewed as equals in our society. While I have not yet had the courage to attend topless, I have attended and fully support the Canadian law.

    The real underlying problem is society’s sexualization of women and of their breasts. I don’t see anyone signing petitions about topless men on newspaper or magazine covers.

    • I agree that the taboo surrounding breasts has to go, and I’m fully in support of nudity without shame. However, I think there is a big difference between incidental breast exposure (eg. a topless woman just going about her daily business) and deliberate sexual objectification. In The Sun, the model’s sole purpose is to titillate; her role in society is reduced to nothing more than a sex object. And that’s not ok. I’d like The Sun to completely get rid of this feature, not just to put a bra on their models.

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  5. The Sun is probably insecure about its readership. They need the bare boobies to keep circulation numbers. Without this trash, people might not bother reading what little The Sun has to say about the world.

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