The dumbest thing I have ever read in a newspaper, EVAR

Art by Jungshun Shin

Art that doesn’t objectify women. By Jungshun Shin.   Source

I sneaked some art throughout this post, to make up for all the willful ignorance we’ll be wading through.  It is a very long slog indeed, but the art is good and it’s all by women artists.
So we’re still campaigning against Page 3, because boobs still aren’t news, and we’re up to 34,535 signatures and counting.  Lucy-Anne Holmes has been all over the media lately talking about it, and we’re gaining supporters every day.  All this is really, really great.
On October 29th through the 4th of November, we invite you to join us in boycotting stores who advertise in the Sun:
The Huffington Post ran a feature where you vote on what you think about this issue, then you read two opinions about the piece, and afterwards you vote on whether your opinion was changed.
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  • The piece in support of No More Page 3 was eloquently written by Caroline Criado-Perez, and you can read it on the link above.
  • The opposing view was by Neil Wallis, a former editor of the Sun.
Wallis’s argument was so hilariously irrational I just had to post it here for your entertainment, with my comments.   Let’s play Spot the Misogyny!

There are two nationwide petitions scrapping furiously for the nation’s attention and support this morning.

“One that I care about, and one that I don’t.”

One wants to ‘Ban the Page Three Girl’ from the pages of the Sun – you know, the topless photo of a pretty girl the paper runs five days a week (though not on Saturdays). The petition has been running for about a month, has attracted huge debate and coverage, not least here on The Huffington Post, but also in the Guardian, Independent, at the LibDem Party Conference from a government minister, on Facebook and Twitter.

The rival is Save Badgers from Culling, the move to stop a government-inspired move to kill wild badgers which may be inadvertently transmitting fatal TB to farm cattle. Despite having a high-profile champion in Queen guitarist Brian May, it has received grudging comment and coverage in the 10 days or so since it has gone properly public.

As I write, one of these petitions has raised 95,014 signatures towards its 100,000 target. The other has managed to scrape together 32,358 towards its ambitious peak of 1,000,000 names. Which one is which? Yup, you’re right – the badgers are beating the boobs out of sight.

These two causes aren’t actually rivals.  There’s nothing stopping us from saving the badgers AND not exploiting women on page 3 of the Sun, simultaneously.  Pitting groups against each other who aren’t really competing is a classic method of divide ‘n’ conquer used by tabloid editors desperate for melodrama.

How can that be, the pundits cry, fooled just as those 32,358 signatories are fooled, by all the hysteria and shrill over-the-top support the stumbling campaign is getting from wide-sections of the wimmin who dominate the social commentary sections of the broadsheet media?

Apparently those “wimmin” who “dominate the social commentary sections” care, but hey, it’s not like women are people.

How can we dominate like proper ball-breaking feminist bitches if we’re stumbling?   Either we’re a threat to your dudely privilege, or we’re not.  And if we weren’t, you would be patting us paternally on the head and calling us beautiful.

The answer is easy to those who will hear it: NO-ONE. CARES.

Right.  You’re taking time out of your life that you’ll never get back to tell us this because you don’t care.  Got it.

When you say “no one cares”, you mean no MAN cares, don’t you?

Except, of course, the many men who’ve signed the petition and who support our campaign. Maybe you only count people who agree with you, which would make your estimate of “no one” significantly closer to the truth?

Heck, even the dudes who are angry at us for having the presumption to express a desire not to be exploited in a national newspaper care, or they wouldn’t be angry.

More art that doesn’t objectify women. By Leya Evelyn. Source

I was first alerted to the No More Page Three Campaign on Twitter by my old friend and now brilliant Times columnist Janice Turner. I was her boss when she was Women’s Editor of the Sun years ago. I liked and respected her and her opinions very much, and have always enjoyed seeing and hearing from her over the years since. She tweeted me, as an old Sun hand, apropos the new campaign to the effect of “Don’t you think Page 3 is old hat and dated now?”

“I’m not a woman-hater!  I HAVE WOMEN FRIENDS”

I responded on @neilwallis1 that “only women of a certain demographic” care about it, added that “ordinary women have better things to worry about”.

Like making you a sandwich.

No, I don’t think Page Three is out of date.

Janice then kindly re-tweeted my views, pointing out I was a former Sun deputy editor. The heavens opened – I was deluged with fury and outrage from an army of women all demanding like Janice that I explain who this “certain demographic” is while insisting they too were perfectly ordinary.

How dare women want your explanations for perpetrating sexism?  What meanie poo-poo heads.

I sort of know I am making matters worse here, but here goes…

UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR

Overwhelmingly white, middle-class, aged late 20s-late 30s, university educated, work in academia, meejah, public services, know what macrobiotic means and how to use a fondue set, don’t watch X Factor, go to Greece on their holidays, read the Guardian and watch Channel 4 News, suffer serious sense of humour loss at certain times… (add in all the other obvious ones I can’t be bothered to list.)

Snob activists just don’t understand the need for working-class dudes to look at boobs in the newspapers every day.  They’re too busy playing with their fondue sets to be in touch with the pulse of the nation!

My beautiful 28-year-old daughter advised me wisely “they also know what wheatgerm tastes like…”

Why do you feel the need to tell us how “beautiful” your daughter is?  Would you describe your son that way?

They’re the sort of people who would never dream of reading the Sun in the first place, and have no real idea of the people that actually do. Well, the Sun is a largely working-class newspaper that approximately THREE MILLION women choose to read every day. Yes, that is 3,000,000… not 32,358.

Actually, 34,535 and counting.

And, “approximately three million women”?  How approximately is that?  Can we see some proof?   I think you’re off by a million or three.

The important word in that sentence is CHOOSE. No-one makes them, no-one forces them to hand over 40p that morning to purchase an item that contains Page Three. I’ve yet to hear an intelligent explanation about why the petition’s 32,358 should decide whether three million are bright enough or entitled to choose their purchase for themselves.

Patriarch sez:  Choosy broads choose patriarchy!

Feminist sez:  Women don’t actually choose to be born into the sex class.  But let’s test your assertion.  Let’s take off Page 3 and see if those alleged three million women take to the streets insisting that it be put back on.

Do those three million worry about Page Three? No, they worry about their kids’ health, the rent, putting food on the table, work, their relationship, benefits scroungers, immigration, the telly, and a drink at the weekend.

Snort.

Nobody worries about “benefits scroungers” except the Sun and the Daily Fail, since it’s their job to incite hatred against marginalized groups, distracting the attention of the lower class away from the rich white men who are really responsible for most of the fucked-up-ness of society.

But wait a second.  Women are a marginalized group, too.  No wonder the Sun likes to exploit them.   How better to distract attention from Serious Issues than making some woman show her boobs?   It certainly isn’t intended to inform, or invite critical thinking.

Winter Sky by Pat Steir

Yet another image that doesn’t objectify women: Winter Sky by Pat Steir.   Source

I’m also baffled about the WHY of this petition? Why care enough about Page Three to concentrate on that to the exclusion of something in the world of sexual issues that really does need addressing.

Let me explain really, really slowly, in very small words.

Page 3 shows women as if they are sexual objects, not people.  Women are people. Taking advantage of people is bad.

Why aren’t those petition signatories putting their energy into campaigning against, say, female genital mutilation? White slavery? Sexual stereotyping in the workplace? Forced marriages? Under-age sex and pregnancy? TxtSexploitation in schools? The list is endless – in my view, all these are far more important… but silence.

We campaign against all forms of misogyny, actually.  We’re glad you think SOME of them matter!  Thanks for your condescension, Knob Editor!  The only silence is between your ears.

The very fact that government minister Lynne Featherstone mentions Page Three today in the same sentence as domestic violence is almost self-parody beyond words.

Portraying people as less than human is a violent act in itself.  And this violence incites further violence against women.

Can’t argue with you on the art of self-parody, because you’re a world-class expert there.

You can’t help but get the sneaking feeling that this petition is about making that “certain demographic” feel rather pleased with themselves, winning themselves a few headlines, preening themselves over nice self-congratulatory pats on the back from their peers and who they admire. “Gosh, look at how jolly brave and radical WE are!”

Wait till we get rid of Page 3.  Backs will be thoroughly and radically patted! THE HORROR! You can’t let this happen.

Know what?  Getting rid of sexist crap feels AWESOME.  You should try it sometime.

The other losers in this, of course, would be the Page Three girls themselves. The patronising way this “certain demographic” insultingly insist these young women are being exploited (“there there, you wouldn’t know any better…”) bears no resemblance to the truth.

Not even for the former Page 3 models who support our campaign!   They don’t exist.

And it totally isn’t insulting to anyone’s intelligence to claim that exploiting women isn’t the problem, but complaining about it is!

Since the first on 17 November, 1970, there has been approximately 4000 Page Three girls. The original photographer Beverley Goodway would tell me, and I’m sure his successor the excellent Alison Webster would concur, that their most stressful task is gently fending off all the girls who dream of being Page Three girls but just aren’t suitable.

Right, because every little girl dreams about growing up (as far as 16, at least) so she can get her tits out for Page 3.   Even if that were true, it would be so, so sad.

Know what I dream about?

I dream about getting rid of female objectification, so little girls can go back to dreaming about whatever it is they dreamed about before Rape Culture got its smutty claws into them.

The truth is that Page Three is an institution that has been there for more than 40 years, just like the leader column, the letters page and the cartoons have.

Slavery is an institution, too.  Let’s bring it back.

If you buy the Sun you know its there. Women simply aren’t offended by it.

Actually, we are.  Or you wouldn’t have written this, and I wouldn’t be answering it.

Oh wait!  I forgot.  WE DON’T COUNT.

In truth, people see it if they look for it and many just don’t.

Then they won’t mind when it’s gone.

If you do, it’s nice and the standard of the photography is always particularly high. I remember once asking Beverley Goodway (tongue in cheek, I have to admit) what made a good Page Three Girl. His serious answer “nice eyes and a nice smile – without them the best body in the world rarely works.”

Cause it’s all about the standard of the photography, dontchaknow.  I’d hate to be exploited by some knob with a crappy camera.

Not surprising that the knobs want women to smile, since a smile is a nonverbal signal of submission.  And so men can make themselves believe that the woman is enjoying her exploitation, so they can do the same, guilt- and responsibility-free.

And why shouldn’t a girl stuck behind the bread counter at Tesco, an office girl down the local council, the unemployed, find a new glamorous life via Page Three? Who are the 32,358 to deny them that? What arrogance.

We’re so arrogant that we want fully human status for women.  So arrogant that we want a world where everybody can survive and even prosper without having to be humiliated for a living.  Would you look at us? We’re so full of ourselves!

No wonder the badgers are winning. Hope that one succeeds, by the way…

Because animals matter more to you than female people.

Knob.

.

Summer Moon by Pat Steir

Yet more art that doesn’t objectify women. Summer Moon by Pat Steir.   Source

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If you haven’t signed our petition to get rid of Page 3 knobbery, please do it now and ask your friends to.   And please join us in the boycott of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrison’s and DFS from October 29 through November 4.

Got something to say?  There’s a text box below, but if you’re a knob, I’m going to make fun of you.

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48 thoughts on “The dumbest thing I have ever read in a newspaper, EVAR

  1. Any feminist is used to hearing the accusation that s/he has no sense of humour. I was also amused to see the word ‘hysteria’ in Wallis’ article. Yes, it’s a well-known fact that women are all crazy! They’re crazy because they have WOMBS!

    *sighs*

    I have signed the petition and reposted it on Facebook and Twitter. It’s only a matter of time now, don’t you think?

    • Misogynist logic:
      “You have no penis, therefore you are irrelevant.”
      Because male sexists keep their brains in there. If we haven’t got penises, where do we keep our brains? We must not have any. Otherwise we’d have penises to store them in.

      TOTALLY LOGICAL

  2. Excellent piece, I enjoyed reading it after my fondue lunch, I have a post-grad paper to write this afternoon entitled: Morons, Mulvey & Castration Anxiety and then I’ll do some wheatgerm tasting, just to make sure I’m not kicked out of this radical demographic! Aaargh. Knobbery is so dull it’s nice when it’s so beautifully lampooned : )

  3. Brilliant response! I feel the need to point out that I’m overwhelmingly brown, work in the oil industry, have never had fondue, or been to Greece, etc. etc. And my sense of humour is usually fine until my entire sex is reduced to the shape of its boobs and the size of its child-bearing hips. That’s when I get a hankering for macrobiotic wheatgerm….

  4. Thanks for your posting – if you want an idea of how much Neil Wallis’ views represent public opinion take a look at the comments to his Huffington post articles.

  5. Brilliant post!
    Just a bit of fun, eh? Staple diet for ordinary blokes with their morning fry-ups the length of the land?
    Yep, maybe that’s why women have to put up with so many pests every day (check out @EverydaySexism). Like the gang working on a building site which ran the length of a bridge I had to cross.
    Soon as I stepped onto it, all of them stopped work, grabbed a spanner and beat on the scaffolding in unison until I’d reached the other end. About 100 yards. CLANG CLANG CLANG CLANG. About a dozen blokes. All together.
    After I’d crossed, behind me I heard the same noise start up again. Another woman had just set foot on the bridge.
    Because we’re not human. We’re just pairs of tits. Thanks, Neil Wallis.
    Pardon me (despite being part of your beloved working class demographic) for not thinking it’s funny at all.

    • I have been transfixed by Everyday Sexism for the last couple of days. Wrote about it on another blog post or two.
      The spanner story boggles my mind. It’s like the way prisoners used to beat their cups against the bars for more chow. Like, did they think their banging would make you come over there and drop some sex into their laps?
      At its core, sexism is so infantile.

  6. Pingback: Neil Wallis: Voice of the common woman (and her tits) « glosswatch

    • Poor man. I wonder if he’ll ever learn to write “women” correctly. One wonders how someone who can’t even spell a five-letter word could get a job as a newspaper editor, even for the Sun. The only possible explanation I can think of is that Mr. Wallis was too consumed by his passionate commitment to journalistic excellence to ever stoop to anything as trivial as spell- or fact- checking.

  7. Only just seen this?!! Funny shit, matey. Really good job.
    I haven’t read his piece because I will not be lectured at by someone occupying the moral-free zone of phone-hacking; thanks to you I don’t have to.
    *officially back in loop*

  8. The problem is that men always have and always will enjoy looking at pretty women, with or without clothes. An entire subset of western art and culture is based on the objectification of the female form. The Venus de Milo seems a gratuitous use of nudity to me, but it does not seem to generate such rancour. I agree that page 3 is basically pornography and should not be in a national newspaper, but I am pessimistic that you will ever be able to rid the world of men’s lust for women. It’s hard-wired, and unfortunately men with lower intelligence will never be able to control those urges. Even more intelligent guys struggle.

    • Sorry, I wrote that before I read some more of your blogs, so I didn’t quite appreciate the nature of your struggle. Now that I better understand your position, clearly my comments above are completely pointless and I apologise for taking up room on your page.

      • Hi, John.

        Your comments are not at all pointless. I appreciate your point of view. I am working on a post about gratuitious nudity in art, actually.

        One thing I must disagree about is the “hard-wired” thing. I don’t think we’re hard-wired much at all. We just don’t realize how deeply influenced we are by the culture we grow up in. It’s a very common bias.

        Thanks for commenting.

      • This is kind of taking us away from the subject matter of your original post, but if you weren’t hard-wired in certain aspects, then you wouldn’t still breathe whilst you were asleep, your pupils would not contract when confronted with bright light, you would not feel hunger or thirst, and you would not feel adrenalised by situations of fear and/or excitement. Your brain does an awful lot without your conscious mind being in control. I think it’s valid to argue that some sexual behaviour also springs from that fact. I am not in any way arguing that it excuses sexist behaviour, but I do think it is overly simplistic to say that our actions are solely dictated by the surrounding culture. It is surely a mixture of the two?

      • I think that in early life we absorb so much, without having the critical thinking skills to process it, that we mistake for being part of ourselves.

        Human nature is not a monolith. We grow. We evolve. We lost our tails and came down from the trees. We can lose sexism.

  9. Love this! The original article had me spitting but I couldn’t have written anything as well as this! I signed the petition and the only thing I have in that “demographic” is that I have been to Greece, although I am working on being university educated. I signed it, because I hate the way that it normalises the objectification of women. A director I worked with when I was 14 used to show it to the little boys, the ones that were 7,8,9. That is completely inappropriate and, had it been Zoo, Nuts or FHM, he would have been called up on it. But in The Sun, somehow it’s allowed.

    As for his statement about how this is all about middle class nonsense and we need to work for “real” issues, well, I imagine many of those who signed it have also signed other petitions. But I guess he hasn’t heard of the campaigns to make prosecuting FGM easier or for stopping cuts to domestic violence and Rape Crisis funding because they don’t affect him. But taking away his tits, well that’s another story! Back off you feminazi fun-stealers!

    • So true.

      I’ve been to Greece, but not on holiday. But I’m already disqualified from the strawdemographic for fondue-related ineptitude.

      When I was still in school I had to ride a school bus every day along with this brat who couldn’t have been older than 8, who always brought p()rn magazines and loudly talked about them all the time. He also constantly made sexually harassing comments to girls who were 8, 9 years older than himself. Nothing was ever done about it. He was such a nasty, aggressive boy, he’s probably in prison now. At least I hope for women’s sake that that former kid is not running around free.

      I’m sure if I reported this story to the dudely fans of female objectification, it would be dismissed as hysteria. Or they would demand I prove it with film footage, voiceprint analysis, biometric data, and a boatload of statistics.

  10. Mr Wallis should get a copy of Pat Craven’s The Freedom Programme, he may recognise some of the characters and their belief systems on there. Lundy Bancroft’s ‘Why Does He Do That?’ would also make an interesting read. Objectification if women and domestic violence are inextricably linked. Oh and I know where I’d like to shove my fondue set……

  11. Hey, everybody. This post has more than 1,000 views, some great comments, and not a single troll so far. I’m glad I’ve reached so many lovely people.
    All the comments are moderated, but they shouldn’t take long to appear. (Unless a troll comes along. I have an alligator pit just for them.) 😀

  12. Hello! I followed a link and somehow arrived here to read your interesting post. I’m another one who is glad that I read the article with your comments, otherwise I’d have had an apoplexy! I gasped at some of the comments made by John, who just seems to think that ‘the boy can’t help it’ is a real excuse. How often has THAT old chestnut been around the block??? (And how angry does it make me?!) (Extremely) There is no justification whatsoever for men to sit slobbering over a picture of a half naked woman in a newspaper. Do we women sit slobbering over pictures of half naked men? Well, yes, maybe we do…… but where are the page 3 (since 1970) men for us to lust after? The biggest problem is that whilever there are women who aspire to expose their breasts in this way, there will always be men like Neil to exploit them. Saddest thing is, the women don’t even know they’re being exploited.
    The 8 year old boy you spoke about on your bus to school is a bit of a worry though, can you imagine what sexual abuse he’d suffered? Eight year old kids don’t know about pornography unless they’ve been subjected to the stuff they start talking about. He needed to have counselling and therapy but I bet he never got it. You should be feeling sorry for him, rather than berating him. I know it’s too late now but there was obviously something radically wrong wtih his home life and I hope some adult noticed and helped, before it was too late.

    • Thanks for stopping by.

      I don’t do What About The Menz. Or What About the Boyz. There’s already too much of that in the world. The idea that victims of male aggression should be concerned with the sufferings of their tormentors only reinforces the idea that males are more important than females.

      He may have been 8, but he was a perpetrator. My concern is with his female victims, and why an 8-year-old boy was allowed to bully girls twice his age. For the same reason you want me to feel sorry for him, I expect: because he has the Magic Rod of Relevance and his victims don’t.

  13. Pingback: Tits to Sexism | Iris Clot

  14. Pingback: Another day, another feminist smackdown « Exiled Stardust

  15. Pingback: [link] Neil Wallis: Voice of the common woman (and her tits) « slendermeans

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