The truth is the material is harmful to young people and it’s reasonable to protect them from it
Lads mags need to cover up but Page 3 girl stays as she is!
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Back in April the British Girl Guides made a public call for the Sun newspaper to put an end to its publication of topless women on page 3 of its dailies. This followed an internal poll in which senior guides (age 16-25) voted 88% in favour of calling for a ban.
In an open letter to The Sun editor girlguiding UK wrote ““As a young woman in UK society, it is impossible to nurture your ambitions if you are constantly told that you are not the same as your male equivalent. This is what page three does. It is disrespectful and embarrassing. We would like the Sun, as a leading UK newspaper, to promote positive role models to inspire girls and young women and help everyone to understand that women are never for sale.”
The letter has set the ball rolling as far as wider debate on the issue, though Lucy Holmes of The Independent critizised the Sun during the 2012 Olympics when its page 3 girl was a bigger pic. than gold medal winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis.
Newsagents across the country sell the Sun as a newspaper which anyone can buy. Likewise anyone can buy ‘lads’ magazines such as such as Front, Gear and Zoo. These contain soft porn similar to page 3 along with articles about the pop culture aimed at young men (men’s magazines - harder porn - require you to be 18 to buy).
Prime Minister David Cameron was asked about the page 3 issue in April, and speaking to ITV he said “I think this is where you need parental responsibility, there are things you don’t want your children to see and you should make sure they don’t see them. It’s the same with the television, of course the television is regulate-able, … but the best regulator of all is the off button. Sometimes parents have to exercise that … shutting the newspaper or turning of the TV.” His position since then hasn’t changed and he categorically will not support a change in the law.
The Prime Ministers mixed-messaging is curious considering he is campaigning hard for internet filters that block pornographic sites. In this incidence he doesn’t seem to think the off button is a sufficient regulator of children’s activity.
Some shops have a policy of not selling some newspapers or lads mags to under 16’s and recently the Co-op, a major convenience retailer, has issued a September 9 deadline for publishers of lads mags to ‘black bag’ their publications if they want them to continue to be sold.
Women and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson welcomed the Co-op’s new position saying “Many parents aren’t comfortable with the way sexualised imagery has become like wallpaper – everywhere from the bus stop to the corner shop. Adults should be left to make their own decisions about what legal sexual images they look at, but the place for these is not next to the sweets at children’s eye-level. I hope other retailers will follow the Co-operative’s lead.”
In addition to the viewpoint expressed by Ms. Swinson many Brits take home delivery of newspapers delivered mostly by 13- 16-year-old-boys. These magazines can be delivered, along with The Sun, by these boys loose in a large cloth sack giving the deliverer full access to the material in question.
Where some believe in regulating the sale of any publication displaying these types of images others would like to go for an all out ban. That prompts a response from Author Toby Young who says in ‘the Telegraph’ that the next step will be banning the Beano comic from shops because Dennis the Menace is a “negative role model”. It’s not really apples for apples Toby but the point is understood that once we start regulating it can become a political obsession. Young wrote that Lose the Lads’ Mags campaigners are “puritanical fanatics” who will soon be patrolling the streets like the Taliban.
The truth is the material is harmful to young people and it’s reasonable to protect them from it. The lads mags should be properly categorized and kept out of reach of children with no paperboy home-delivery. The Sun should, as Rupert Murdoch has hinted, tone down page 3 into something more acceptable or face open sale restrictions.
Despite the objections though it seems as if, under the current government at least, Britain’s biggest selling paper will continue to publish its ‘glamour modelling’ on page 3 as it has since 1970. Asked by ITV in April “so you wouldn’t call for a ban on it then” the Prime Minister simply answered “no”.