Often the media industry’s damaging impact on women seems inevitable, yet tolerable. With the rise of super skinny supermodels and an obsessive celebrity culture, the number of people with eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder and those seeking quick-fix plastic surgery have sky-rocketed. Yet the statistics no longer shock us. It’s as though the media’s objectification of women and the social pressure this often creates has become old news, tomorrow’s chip paper, an accepted bi-product of this day and age. Page 3 is a crucial part of this harmful culture, and therefore categorically does not belong in our SU shop; banning it constitutes a vital step in our bid to defy the portrayal of women as purely sexual objects.
Moreover, the ‘No More Page 3 at UoN’ group told Impact, “The SU shop has added reason to NOT stock such sexist and harmful content”. They argue that the Students’ Union has written declaration of an obligation towards women. While the SU shop continues to stock these papers, the shop “undermines women by perpetuating the sexual objectification and narrow gender representation of women at the University of Nottingham”.
Although the group have been campaigning to get Page 3 out of the SU shop, they have faced “bureaucratic hurdles” given the democratic changes in the SU this past year. However they are backed by members of both the LGBT and the Women’s Network, and are confident of the success of their campaign this coming year. With so much support from a significant number of the student population, it doesn’t make sense to continue stocking the SU shop with this harmful content.
As they say, sex sells; however, in a time of legal gender equality and with females increasingly outnumbering males at many UK universities, why do the media still find it easier to treat women as bodies rather than somebodies? By continuing to sell Page 3, our University, a place of alleged equal opportunities where diversity is embraced, is jeopardising the self-worth of half of the student body for the entertainment of the other half.
Banning newspapers with Page 3 from the SU shop will do very little to erode a global culture of sexism. Compared to the billion dollar porn industry, for example, the University of Nottingham SU shop is hardly a mover and shaker. If students can’t get their kicks from Page 3, they can get them from the thousands of porn websites online, which, by the way, I’m sure the University could ban from halls of residence if they wanted to. In short, Page 3 is a drop in the ocean.
I understand the pro-ban argument to be one of principle. Nottingham University does not want to be seen advocating sexism and objectification. Fair enough. But if this is the case, how can they permit scantily clad girls to promote nights out at Freshers’ Fair, allow sports teams to publish naked calendars, sell copies of Men’s Health and Vogue and permit Abercrombie and Fitch to feature at a recruitment fair? The list goes on.
We do indeed live in a society where girls face considerable pressure to look a certain way, and often face a barrage of sexist comments from men who have grown up in a culture where women have been sexualised. But Page 3 is merely a symptom of an endemic. The SU shop sells magazines which no doubt also display similarly provocative images of women.
On a similar line, should the SU shop stop selling discounted alcoholic drinks and cigarettes? Or unhealthy Rustler burgers? Are these products not more dangerous to society than an innocuous institution like Page 3? Perhaps we could apply the same philosophy to Page 3 as we do to the aforementioned products: ‘if you don’t like it, don’t buy it’. This freedom of choice is a hallmark of a liberal society, and something which moralisers have no right to take away.