Feminism | Posted by Sophie R on 11/14/2012

A Boob In My Bonnet

the class act that is The Sun

In the United Kingdom (where I live), there is a daily national tabloid newspaper called The Sun. In it’s own words, The Sun provides readers with “the latest news and features – Showbiz, babes, celebrities, sport and racing, national and international news.” The word that I have decided to take issue with is ‘babes’ specifically because, for those who don’t already know, as well as tenuous ‘news’ The Sun regularly features a picture of a pretty girl with her bazukas out on page 3.

It’s long been an issue that has frustrated me. I am not surprised, shocked or even displeased that men – and women – like to look at boobs. Boobs are fascinating, boobs are life-giving, powerful, sexy and aesthetically pleasing, all at the same time. As a heterosexual woman, I confess that I love to have a good gawp at a nice pair of breasts, wherever I may come across them (I love a topless beach – viva Espania!). Part of the fascination is a sort of ‘ooh, you’ve got them too, they’re just bigger/smaller/ droopier/ perkier etc than mine’ acknowledgement and partly because a beautiful pair of baps is a lovely sight to behold. I am also very much in favour of encouraging people (women and men) to be comfortable with their bodies. I have spent too much of my life ashamed of my physical flaws and not enough celebrating my strength, physical capabilities and the general fact that my body functions very well, and as such is pretty damn marvellous.

However, I don’t believe the place to find a pair of boobs should be two pages into The Sun, aka the most widely-read newspaper in this country (in itself quite terrifying). This is not because I think the naked human form is scandalous, or anything so prudish (although I think printing a topless chick alongside a story about the war on terror/ unemployment/ racism, etc. is slightly crass and somewhat undermines those issues). I just think there are more appropriate forums for breast admiration, especially in less objectifying ways.

Besides the mots obvious aspect of objectification, one aspect of the Page 3 Phenomenon that frustrates me most is the ‘News in Briefs’ bubble that accompanies each glamour shot. I find the implication that a good looking young woman with nice tits cannot be intelligent, or have a valid/informed opinion on politics, science or anything else UTTERLY OUTRAGEOUS. Sure, some of the girls on Page 3 may not be the sharpest tools in the proverbial shed, but I DO think it is appalling that the editors of The Sun deem it acceptable to propagate the ridiculous myth that good looking women cannot also be clever and educated with something valuable to say about the world.

Take my sister for example, she is tall, slim and extremely pretty, with a curvy bum and a great pair of C-cups. She loves clothes, shoes, jewellery, handbags and fashion in general and is ace at making cupcakes and brownies. Yet her title isn’t Miss, Mrs. OR Ms – it’s Dr.
 All of these things are true, not because she is extraordinary (although, to everyone who knows her, she is), but because like most women (and humans in general), she does not neatly fit into one category. The point is not that beautiful girls can’t be clever, or plain girls can’t be thick – it is that there is NO correlation between the two.

I have lost count of the number of times people (men and women) have reacted in amazement when I have told them that I speak 3 languages fluently – yes, it is quite rare (especially in our resolutely monoglot society) but I would be willing to bet that at least half find it difficult to reconcile this with the image of a girl who takes pleasure in dying her hair blonde, painting her nails and wearing heels/makeup etc.

So while Page 3 is a drop in the ocean when it comes to reinforcing old-fashioned perceptions about beautiful women (and I do think this is something that largely affects women over men), I don’t think it helps. And it’s really for this reason above all that I think that getting rid of it might not be such a bad idea.

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  • Debra @ at 2:48 pm, November 15th, 2012

    I think these pictures are disgusting and sexist. Let’s call them what they are. It’s pornography and it offends most women. Woman don’t stand up because if they do they are called ugly by men (men’s favourite way of hurting women who show their opinions or power), or worse, other women defend the very thing which is sexist. Women don’t stick for women for the most part (sorry, but true)…i.e. lots of stupid women out there, sorry again.

    Notice, men don’t say anything against this sort of thing (not because they don’t know it’s wrong and because they get a lustful thrill from it) but because they know they can still stick it to women this way and offend them.

  • Laura Munoz @ at 2:17 am, November 22nd, 2012

    Men and women are turned on by different things.

    Printed newspapers are mainly targeted to mature men which are their primary audience. Men like looking at woman’s bodies, it gives them a small blast of feeling well, it’s nature. Having the girl quote philosophical deconstructions of the news gets in the way of their blast thus they are objectified into sex icons.

    Chick flicks are mainly targeted to young women which are their primary audience. Women like fantasizing of accidental love or changing a man through love or being rescued by a man who loves them, they get a blast of feeling well from this, it’s nature. Having a man show real masculine behaviour on this movies would get in the way of their blast, thus they are objectified into romantic clowns.

    It’s important to always see both sides of the coin.

  • obmon @ at 4:31 am, November 28th, 2012

    uh.. doesn’t “my body, my choice” and freedom of expression take precedence over your perceived perception of objectification? If some women want to have their tits out in a national magazine.. so let them.. who cares?

    The hypocrisy of feminism is astonishing.

  • Forfina @ at 2:31 pm, December 4th, 2012

    With reference to obmon’s comment on the ‘astonishing’ hypocrisy of feminism…It’s all very well to trot out an old feminist adage (got any others, or is that it…?), but have you thought of the wider repercussions of this ‘perceived objectification’? I’d be interested to know if you’ve actually read the paper (page 3 especially) in question – I think it would be hard to argue that it is not objectifying women. But I think the real issue here is that portrayals of women like the one mentioned are damaging to attitudes, particularly those of young people – male and female.

    I think anyone with more than 5 neurons will agree that, regardless of sex, “my body, my choice” is a good rule to live by in theory, and personally, I don’t think in this instance it is so much about the exploitation of the women featured in the paper as those who have access to it and the effect it has on general attitudes. Surely the whole point of civilised society is taking responsibility for other human beings, especially vulnerable ones?

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