Thousands sign petition to end The Sun's Page Three girl
Campaign to 'drop the bare boobs' from The Sun takes off amid outcry over Kate's topless photos
THE topless photographs of Kate Middleton may have enraged The Sun – the paper said it was "disgusting that a young woman on holiday with her husband can't relax and strip off by the pool in private" - but is the tabloid about to suffer a similar backlash over its Page Three girl?
As the Murdoch-owned tabloid backed Prince William's legal bid to sue the French magazine that published the photos, a new campaign to get the 'family' newspaper to drop its Page Three Girl suddenly took off last Wednesday. Since then, signatories to the 'No More Page Three' petition have surged from 2,500 to more than 20,000.
The campaign, on Twitter, Facebook and the specialist petition website change.org, personally targets the Sun's editor, Dominic Mohan. Rather than demanding that Page Three girls be banned outright, it asks him "very nicely" to "drop the bare boobs" from his newspaper.
Petition founder Lucy Holmes started the campaign three weeks ago after reading a copy of the Sun during the Olympics. Despite the extensive coverage given to victorious athletes such as Jessica Ennis and Victoria Pendleton, the dominant female image in the paper was still "a massive picture of a girl in her pants".
"It made me really sad," Holmes, an actress, told The Guardian. "It was the biggest female image in that issue, and I think pretty much every issue of [The Sun] for 42 years."
Holmes wrote to Mohan but when he did not reply she went public with the petition. In it she addresses Mohan directly: "Dominic, stop showing topless pictures of young women in Britain's most widely read newspaper. Stop conditioning your readers to view women as sex objects. Enough is enough."
Since then the campaign has gathered pace. The petition is being discussed on Mumsnet while journalists India Knight and Caitlin Moran and comedian Jennifer Saunders have mentioned it on Twitter. Moran, the author of How to be a Woman, tweeted: "Teenage tits are not news, or a feature".
It is not the first campaign against the Page Three girls. Labour MP Clare Short raised the issue in 1986 and was branded "fat, jealous Clare" by the paper. It was hoped the appointment of the paper's first female editor in 2003 – Rebekah Wade (later Brooks) - would lead to a rethink. It did not.
Last year the feminist campaign groups Object and Turn Your Back on Page 3 made a joint submission about "the hyper-sexualisation of women in the press" to the Leveson inquiry.
Holmes's campaign is still someway off its target of one million signatures but it is attracting a wide cross-section of the public.
One petitioner, Harry Wood from Liverpool, writes: "I am sick of rampant sexism and inequality being dressed up as freedom of the press" while Gary Miller from Faversham argues: "How are women meant to be taken seriously in the workplace when this is how they are seen?"
Rachel Tierney from London puts it more pithily: "Boobs on page 3 make tits of us all."