VICTORY FOR FEMINISM. The Sun appears to have dropped the topless model on Page 3. The No More Page 3 campaign is dizzy with joy, retweeting every ounce of praise for them winning this campaign.
The problem the NMP3 campaign had all along was with the presence of nipples, which is one of the very many reasons I had misgivings about it. By their own campaign goals, if it’s true and the Sun has indeed dropped the topless model on Page 3, then they’ve won. No more bare boobs over breakfast.
Personally, I’m a little more sceptical. I have a tendency to flick though the Sun if there’s a copy nearby, for the same morbid reasons as I sometimes subject myself to Question Time or click on New Statesman links. What I’ve noticed in my perusal of things that make me annoyed is that when they don’t have a posed picture of a model on the third page, they tend to have a candid photo of a celebrity. I’d been hoping–being a perpetual optimist who is repeatedly bitterly disappointed–that the Sun would switch to posed photos of models who have covered their breasts, if they’re getting rid of the topless shots. Indeed, last night, it looked like that was the way the wind was blowing, and I felt genuinely relieved that it wasn’t going to be more candid shots.
Of course, that wasn’t to last. Today’s page 3 of the Sun is… candid shots. Of some women who were in a soap opera. Enjoying a beach holiday. Being photographed without their consent.
This is the major problem with candid shots. They’re infinitely worse than posed photos. What does a photograph snapped without a woman’s knowledge or blessing say about our attitude towards consent? Paparazzi shots are invasive and, crucially, completely non-consensual. Fame, according to the paparazzi model, gives men the right to stalk women, to watch them through telescopic lenses while they think they are alone, to watch and wait for a moment deemed suitably titillating or humiliating. If a woman is famous, she loses every right to privacy, and must live her life in a state of perpetual camera-readiness, because she knows that one bad shot where she’s bending and her stomach looks ever so slightly off a completely flat plane will be splashed across the media with gleeful laughter, trying to shame the witch with her rounded witch abdomen. I can only imagine how hellish it must be to be stalked with your harassment encouraged by the national media organisations. In contrast, the topless model, during a shoot, knows exactly what is happening, when the shots are coming. She can portray herself as she wants, and then go home to her privacy.
Another key difference between candid shots and posed photos is who gets paid. Models, of course, get paid for their work. They might not get paid much, but they’re paid for the labour of maintaining their bodies, of being able to work with a camera. With the candids, the subject is not reimbursed for her troubles. Photographers grow rich, they are incentivised to continue their misogynist stalking. Meanwhile, their victims must go through all sorts of affective labour to avoid the cameras, or to at least try to look “attractive” every time they go outside in case there’s a paparazzo hiding in the bushes.
The notion of women getting paid for what we do is, unfortunately, quite alien under patriarchy. It’s a big part of the reason why the paparazzi model flourishes. Women are expected to look good all the time, with no thought given to the sheer amount of effort this labour takes. It’s broadly similar to how demands such as wages for housework remain a niche interest rather than a major feminist campaign. Our work is not considered work. Also related, here, is the general sneering at women who do glamour modelling (as well, of course, as other forms of sex work). It’s not seen as a “real” job, despite the phenomenal amount of devalued labour that goes into it. The No More Page 3 campaign have been just as guilt of this as the misogynists they claim to be fighting. I note that Page 3 is continuing online, behind a paywall, and I hope the models continue to be fairly reimbursed for their work: I’d hate to see a feminist campaign that threw women into poverty!
What was on Page 3 has been replaced by a far nastier flavour of misogyny, born out of a sense of entitlement and a complete disregard for women’s consent. Paparazzi intrusion has ruined lives, even killed women. That anybody could think that replacing a photo which was taken with a woman’s knowledge (and she was paid for) with candid photos is baffling.
I’d honestly rather see a pair of nipples as I eat my beans on toast than this horrifying form of misogyny any day.