A talk about media sexism

The NMP3 campaign has been effective because, as the petition and general feedback has shown, there are 240,000 + women and men out there who were sick of seeing bare breasts in a family newspaper.
I have heard so many women say that the soft porn on page 3 of the sun demoralised them and contributed to their low self esteem about their bodies and it took them a while to realise this because page 3 is normalised as part of mainstream culture.
So many people were sick of seeing it.
The campaign has been effective because it’s stayed polite and has used humour. It’s never asked for legislation, it’s just asked The Sun politely to stop printing soft porn.
So many excuses have been used to keep it and we’ve kept asking the question ‘why are half naked women needed in a family newspaper?’

The very talented poet, Hollie McNish, wrote a poem called Just One Day where she imagined that roles in the media were reversed. This is my favourite bit!

For just one day, I’d like to see a newspaper take a double page spread about Obama’s arms when he wears short sleeves.
10 pages to talk about David Cameron’s choice of socks and hand cream.
Whilst focusing on Kate Middleton’s degree and how she feels about personal freedom next to images of Prince Williams’ top ten jackets worn this season”

At last count, the NMP3 petition had 242,683 signatures. We may have won a battle and bare boobs seem to have disappeared from page 3 of the sun but the war on media sexism is not over.

The NMP3 campaign supports the 50:50 campaign because, well, it’s a no brainer, right?

But I truly believe that if there was equal representation in parliament, then back when Clare Short first complained about page 3, she would have been listened to as opposed to bullied and harassed in the national press. She was called crazy and mad. The Sun called her a fat, jealous, ugly cow and even got male MPs to pose on page 3 with topless models as part of their campaign of hate against her. Even if those insults had been true, when has that ever disqualified a man fitting that same description, from having an opinion?

Only on Monday night, Junior Equalities Minister, Jo Swinson, slammed the Tories for refusing to back an enquiry into Everyday Sexism in newspapers.

It’s funny right? 2 days before we gather to talk about 50:50 representation, an article on buzzfeed appears about the culture secretary Sajid Javid immediately blocking any kind of enquiry into media sexism.
I’m trying not to judge anyone here, but I find it fascinating that a man chooses to block an enquiry into media sexism. Even the Tory equalities minister, Nicky Morgan was open to the idea of an enquiry!

I think Bridget Christie; one of my favourite comedians sums it up nicely when she says

“How did we end up a generation of women crippled with self loathing, eating disorders, body dysmorphia and agitated mons pubis?
Something has gone badly wrong when hundreds of thousands of British women have chosen to walk around with silicone in their mammaries. Yes! We have the vote but we can’t get down to the polling stations because we’re incapacitated by malnutrition, low self esteem and vajazzle adhesive”

In order to prepare for tonight, I asked 60 random people to complete 2 sentences for me. Media Sexism affects me because…..
Unequal representation in parliament affects me because…….

These people were mostly strangers to me, were of all ages and their views were mostly collected on International Women’s Day on the NMP3 stand.

The majority of people’s responses centred on self esteem issues and a huge amount of women were concerned about their sons and daughters. They are worried that their sons will grow up to view women as objects and that their daughters will have the same self esteem issues as they do.

Lots of people simply said that the way women are portrayed in the media is demeaning and presents women as objects to be judged. We all of course have the choice to seek out this kind of content but when it is in front of us on every newsstand in the shops, on millions of breakfast tables and on display in the houses of parliament, where is that choice for those of us who would rather not see it?

What kind of future do we want to create?

Do we want to continue on this path of devaluing human beings to make money?

Or can we start making life better, not just for women but for all of us?

We seem to have this massive preoccupation with image. And I don’t think that anyone can deny that women are the main target of this.

Whether it is a top human rights lawyer being judged on who she married and what she is wearing or whether an Oscar nominated actress has had her mani-pedi, it feels like you cannot escape the constant scrutiny of women’s appearance no matter what the actual celebration is supposed to be for.

So I’ll leave you with another quote from one of my favourite blogs, My Tights Won’t Stay up who call out media sexism on a weekly basis.

Now, I might have got this wrong, but aren’t The Brit Awards, and awards ceremonies in general (except fashion ones), about stuff what people have done good, or vaguely good, or a bit middle of the road but made a lot of money, so let’s pat everyone on the back? Anyone would think they’re a shop window, advertising women posing with their hand on one hip and doing that awkward knee thing for looking adorably gauche and youthful. Oh goody, let’s JUDGE THEM! Who’s thin?! Who’s hot?! Who’s mutton?! Who gives a giant flipping fuck? Clue: Not us… Oh lawd, thanks Daily Express I have a jeffing opinion about a famous person’s dress. Someone please drown me in a puddle of C-listers’ tears.


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