David Cameron insists that he won’t support a ban of Page Three, unlike Ed Miliband, because, he says, there is a difference between newspapers, which parents could keep away from children, and the internet, where young people could stumble across hardcore pornography.
Does Cameron not understand that The Sun, the highest circulating newspaper in the UK, shines brightly everywhere? It dazzles in shops and cafes where you’d take your children at the weekend, it lights up adults’ waiting areas in crèches, illuminates supermarket cafes posing as drawing paper for children to scribble on, and even sparkles on pavements. I can’t count how many times I saw page three discarded on the street on my walk home from school, presumably by young boys interested in flashes of what they’ve not seen yet in the flesh. I wonder how they got hold of such naughty material?
If David Cameron knew more about young boys like those that went, from time to time, to my school in Doncaster, he’d know that hiding something from people doesn’t mean they won’t try to seek it out independently. He seems to naively believe that parents can save their children from enjoying black market sweets when deprived of them at home, taking a drag of a cigarette from a classmate who was old before her time, or even pouring through naughty magazines. What’s particularly sad is that Cameron is showing how far reaching his disconnect is from the common man, however many Ryanair flights he might take, or Cornish pasties he might eat at train stations.
If a young boy aged eight notices page three in a café amongst his bright crayons, he might ask what the woman is doing. He might then see similar things on advertisements and maybe, when his school friends get their hands on a porn magazine aged fifteen, he’ll see nothing unusual in what the topless girl with a huge smile is doing. That’s because he’s been used to seeing women represented in this way in magazines, newspapers, in film and on TV for so long. There’s something wrong with that.
David Cameron should think about the bigger picture. I’m not calling for the birth of a new puritanical world, The Handmaid’s Tale style, but stating that Cameron should perhaps look at the ways that women are portrayed across mainstream media and consider how this might impact on our behavior in regards to consuming online porn. If women are portrayed as hot sexpots everywhere, men (and women) develop a taste for it and will pursue that kind of titillation (which is so reductive) in different ways.
We need a leader who might want to talk about the ways that the hyper-sexualisation of women in our media has an impact on the way we view women in society. In fact, it’s not just how we view women, but how we view sex.
We need someone who’s not afraid of speaking out against against major corporations like News International. We need people at the top to make bigger gestures. How else are things going to change, when street protests fall flat?
Hopefully Ed Miliband’s support of the No More Page Three campaign isn’t just gratuitous, eager-to-please opposition politicking.