Mike Beecham is a reluctant campaigner. He’s just got fed up with visiting his local Co-op store and seeing the sexualised front covers of magazines like Nuts, Zoo and Loaded in the faces of those who never requested their presence, especially impressionable children. His request is a simple one- Why can’t such magazines have a ‘modesty wrap’ (i.e. opaque sleeve) around the image on the front cover? This would lead to the casual passer-by not being exposed to pictures designed for titillation. Let’s be clear- this isn’t about banning anything, it’s about the freedom of the public to go about their supermarket shopping without being affected by airbrushed ‘babes’. Those who wish to purchase these magazines would be able to do so in the normal way. He’s tried the approach of a personal complaint with no effect. So now, reinvigorated with the challenge of Christian Vision for Men, he’s giving this campaign one almighty shove in the public sphere. If you care about how women are depicted in the media you might find this cause is for you. If you are concerned about the stereotypes affecting our children you might say now is the time to draw a line. If you believe in freedom of choice you can surely agree that this small but significant change is a step forward. And if you are concerned that the major supermarkets are more concerned about profit than common decency you will find this modest campaign compelling.
As a former editor of FHM said recently (talking of these publications):
‘I think it’s just reached a point where it’s readily accessible porn…’
So let’s treat it as porn and obscure it from the view of most supermarket shoppers.
Will you join in?
Sign the e-petition here
Follow @modestywraps on Twitter for all the latest news on the campaign
The No More Page 3 campaign is gathering momentum, tens of thousands of people have signed the petition requesting that the Sun’s editor, Dominic Mohan, ceases his paper’s practice of publishing pictures of topless women. Naturally, there are those who take exception to the aim of the campaign, some because they (mistakenly) believe that the campaign aims to ban Page 3 and are worried about imposed censorship. Others, though, understand what is at stake but believe the premise – that showing women’s boobs in a national newspaper causes wider problems – to be fundamentally flawed. Brendan O’Neill has taken this view with a flourish and accused No More Page 3 supporters of being ‘driven by the oldest and most foul form of snobbery’. His contention appears to be that by campaigning against a publication that is largely read by manual workers a metropolitan elite demonstrates its disgust of this section of society.
Why? Where is the evidence? Could it not be that we believe in a much more wholesome human dignity that celebrates human potential without becoming sex objects? The reason this practice objectifies women is that there is clearly no relationship between viewer and viewed. Therefore, an object she has become (for someone else’s gratification presumably).
By placing the arguments out there, the campaign is generating debate about what we value in ourselves and what we value in others, in other words, what kind of society we desire to be. If we are happy for men to talk to women whilst gawping at their chests then we need do nothing. If we want to tolerate rude comments on the pavements of our cities, sit tight and hope nothing changes. If we want girls to aspire to cosmetic surgery to gain attention, keep quiet. If, though, we have a different view of society, we might like to stand up for it right now.
The No More Page 3 petition is available here.
And if Mr O’Neill wishes to call me inconsistent due to the prevalence of internet pornography, he might wish to read some of my previous posts.
The No More Page 3 petition is available here
And if Mr O’Neill wishes to call me inconsistent due to the prevalence of internet pornography he might wish to read some of my previous posts.
It’s a no-brainer really. Why are we still tolerating a national newspaper showing topless women on page 3? Really, I can’t find any good reason. Yes, it’s been around for a long time but does that mean it’s existence can’t be challenged? It’s not a great British institution simply a tool for luring men into viewing women as sex objects- pure and simple. For well-constructed arguments that debunk certain myths read this. Well, thanks to Lucy Holmes and her admirable campaign the momentum for change is growing. The Sun’s editor, Dominic Mohan, is being implored by thousands of people to put an end to this practice of judging women by their cleavage. This isn’t about introducing a law, it’s about standing up as the majority and saying we don’t think women should grow up in an objectified culture and we don’t think men should either. I think we are a majority and I think, this time, we might just succeed. So- if you can think of a good reason for page 3 to continue, do nothing.
If not sign here
Someone recently suggested that Christians talk too much about pornography (and that this is unhealthy). It’s certainly true that on Twitter there are a number of different individuals discussing this subject right now. There are dangers and I’ll name two: Firstly, that Christians are only seen as being interested in the socially conservative sins rather than the wider agenda (e.g. UK child poverty and overseas development aid). This is a perception of long-standing that will not change overnight, but I don’t believe that a solution is to keep quiet about something as damaging as pornography. It destroys lives and is therefore a matter of social justice. Yes, we need to advocate on other issues too – and thankfully the Christian community is much more comprehensive in its range of interests (e.g. personal debt, FairTrade, climate change). Secondly, that by talking about it we provoke further curiosity, thus leading others to fall into the trap. If I’ve written something that has been unhelpful then I want to hear about it,but my conviction is that we don’t talk about it enough.
In the last year or so a number of bloggers and organisations have taken up this issue with persistence in a way that might just indicate God’s guiding hand orchestrating a truth-telling and grace-filled response. It is better to bring troubling issues out into the light than to leave them festering in the darkness where the isolated individual has nowhere to turn. We were created as relational beings and our willingness to offer support is testimony to our God-given humanity. I recently talked to a church leader about this issue and he said ‘Oh – I thought pornography was looking at naked women’. Well, yes it is, but there is a staggering lack of understanding of what the 53% of Christian men viewing the stuff are looking at if that’s all you think it is. Clearly, we are not talking about it enough in our churches where the majority of pastoral support takes place. There is definitely a place for men’s groups to talk about it and for youth workers to address it with their teenagers. But this is not an issue that can be consigned to specialist silos. It needs to be addressed in plenary gatherings (albeit sensitively & appropriately), so that everyone knows that the issue is taken seriously and that help is readily at hand. And if we are worrying that some in our congregations might be shocked and outraged then I have a solution: Preach and model the gospel of grace. Because shock and outrage belong to the non-gospel of self-righteousness.
If you would like more help with this issue, click here.
Reading Gail Dines’ ‘Pornland’ makes me feel quite ill in places. In my quest to find out more about the porn industry, I’ve been keen to avoid seeing any images (that would simply perpetuate the abuse), but rather read descriptions in order to redeem this knowledge for good purposes. And it’s tough stuff. Whether you focus on the physical effects (e.g. anal reparative surgery) or the mental consequences (e.g. self-destructive behaviour), it really is tortuous and bleak.
On a wider level, it is heart-breaking to read about how young women’s body confidence is being dismantled – in some cases destroyed – by the ruinous expectations set up by the porn industry. So many feel the need to look like porn stars, with the endless waxing involved, otherwise they risk rejection by potential partners. (Pornland, Dines p99ff) Reading the disgust with which some have been greeted for not waxing sufficiently demonstrates the totalitarianism of the porn industry – ‘it’s our way or social exclusion’. And the mainstream ‘women’s’ magazines who peddle the same line in more acceptable ways simply add fuel to this fire. This is, of course, before we get into the details of what might be demanded in the bedroom. I recently heard of a case where a marriage broke up within a couple of years because the husband’s previous porn consumption had led to demands that could not (and should not) be fulfilled by his wife. I’m sure this is a widespread issue leading to misery, separation and possibly violence.
So here’s a suggestion I open up for discussion: is there a place for education about pornography, its values and its effects, in Relationships and Sex Education in Schools? Could it be taught in age-appropriate ways through the age range Year 6 to Year 11 in a way that builds self-esteem for both sexes? And could parents be sent a summary of the presentations to provoke family conversations?
Your thoughts are most welcome…