For certain women the sight of a topless female engenders fury, especially when the woman in question has been strategically placed between the pages of a newspaper rather than Playboy magazine.

This anger arguably stems from privately thinking: why are so many women still choosing this path when so many others are open to them?

And being convinced that posing semi-naked in a newspaper is both inappropriate and demeaning a, “No More Page 3” campaign was launched in 2012 against The Sun to stop it featuring braless glamour models for the juvenile pleasure of its male readers.

Several things since then have become apparent. The first is that two years on, and the campaigners are still, well, campaigning. The second is that female nudity is increasingly becoming less of a “shock factor” and more of an optional technicality, which can be seen through the success of various pop artists such as Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. And finally, adding frustration to indignation, during a reviewing process undertaken by new Sun editors, the result of a lengthy reader research into its Page 3 feature revealed a majority lack of concern from both sexes, with very few from the female contingent actually wishing to see it banned.

The belief then that women are being exploited and oversexualised in the media is far from incontrovertible as things stand. Part of the problem here perhaps, is decades of feminist activism pushing the boundaries of gender to the point where they are so vague, that it almost feels like anything goes and everything can be an expression of our independence.

A market for sexualised female imagery has existed a long time, and once its endurance could only be explained primarily in terms of an ongoing patriarchal value system. Today though, that argument is becoming less persuasive.

The backlash over Robin Thicke’s video “Blurred Lines” was considerable, and yet, looking at it one gets the impression of satisfied young females celebrating their femininity while enjoying having three guys drool over them. The lyrics, though pretty risqué in some places, are no worse than those in “Ayo Technology”. No doubt, those whose sensibilities were offended, focused only on the chorus while ignoring parts like, “…he was close, tried to domesticate you”/ “But you’re an animal, baby, it’s in your nature” / “Just let me liberate you”. Words that Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique would probably not have opposed, having argued that domestic fulfilment is not necessarily the key to every woman’s happiness.

And yet, if we are to be candid, exposing yourself for a living is probably not what those earliest feminist thinkers like Mary Wollstonecraft had in mind when they argued for greater equality between the sexes.

In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Wollstonecraft emphasised the need for a broad education if women are to become virtuous and independent, seeing these qualities as what makes us into better citizens. She also firmly disapproved of the esteem commonly payed to appearances, urging women to release themselves from beauty’s “arbitrary power” with its temporary and superficial influence over the male sex.

Regrettably, too much successful television now thrives on material showing an abundance of abasing female nudity. The fourth Game of Thrones series recently came under scrutiny for featuring a scene where a prince disrobes a group of prostitutes one by one, to select a companion for the night. Miranda Suit of Safermedia, commented that this teaches young girls: “that what most men want is their body and handing it over is one of the easiest ways to get their attention”.

So where exactly does all this lead? Presumably, there is an understandable degree of resentment from those who are aware of the misery past generations of women had to endure before our lives became less circumscribed.

Since the late nineteenth century women’s rights in Britain have gained steady momentum. By1876 we could attend university. In 1928 through the Representation of the People Act, all women were eligible to vote. Then the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act and Equal Pay Bill set out to further strengthen our position in society by giving protection against existing prejudice.

What seems baffling then is how so many modern women can be so casual about projecting themselves in a sexually explicit manner, and defending it as “freedom of choice”. But then, what do they know? Born into a society where feminism is often referred to with misunderstood derision, all the freedoms so hard-won are simply taken for granted and squandered.

What is needed is an education system where Women’s Studies are at least an optional part of the national curriculum; otherwise, it may be a long while before it is understood that sexualised nudity should never be a form of empowerment and that Page 3 is vulgar.




DISCLAIMER: The articles on our website are not endorsed by, or the opinions of Shout Out UK (SOUK), but exclusively the views of the author.