In Depth

Is this the end of topless models on Page 3?

Campaigners celebrate as Murdoch says it's 'old fashioned'– but editors say readers still want it

Comments made by Rupert Murdoch have caused many to speculate whether the Sun’s Page 3 could be on the way out.

Feminist campaigners have said they are "encouraged" by tweets from the owner of News Corp, the Sun’s parent company, saying he thought the topless photos were "old fashioned" and asking his followers for their opinions.

Brit feminists bang on forever about page 3. I bet never buy paperI think old fashioned but readers seem to disagree.— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) September 10, 2014

Page 3 again. Aren't beautiful young women more attractive in at least some fashionable clothes? Your opinions please.

— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) September 10, 2014

The controversial photos have been running in the UK’s best-selling newspaper since the 1970s and activists argue that nudity does not belong in a family newspaper as it "conditions readers to view women as sex objects".

Lucy Holmes, founder of the No More Page 3 campaign, said: "We're really encouraged that change is afoot," but admitted that the media mogul "misses the point entirely by asking whether young women are more attractive clothed or unclothed".

Nevertheless, the #NoMorePage3 hashtag began trending on Twitter as thousands of people responded to his message.

@rupertmurdoch How about you stop asking for opinions, develop a moral conscience, and then summon the courage to act on it?

— Karen (@SometimesKaren) September 10, 2014

@rupertmurdoch You've very much missed the point. How about women making, not decorating, news? #mediasexism @NoMorePage3

— Bare Reality (@BareReality) September 10, 2014

@rupertmurdoch NEWS NOT BOOBS! Celebrate women in all their capacities!! @NoMorePage3

— Brenna Aston (@NennaBaston) September 10, 2014

The petition urging Sun editor David Dinsmore to "take the bare boobs out of The Sun" continues to gain ground, having now amassed over 700,000 signatures.

 The campaign is supported by a number of organisations across the UK including Breast Cancer UK, the National Union of Teachers, and The Welsh National Assembly.

"The everyday, casual misogyny of Page 3 undoubtedly contributes to our culture in which the objectification of women is completely normalised," according to the charity Rape Crisis. It argues that it serves "no public service role and [has] no place in a publication calling itself a newspaper. The time for it to go is long overdue.”

A spokesperson from The Sun told the Huffington Post that it remained "committed to listening to our readers and producing the newspaper they wanted to read".

Last year Dinsmore defended the page saying he was only giving readers what they "wanted", following a decision by the Sun’s Irish edition to stop publishing the images altogether, due to what it called "cultural differences between the UK and Ireland" the BBC reports.

However, even feminists have struggled to reach a consensus on the page. Some activists argue that as models consent to having the images taken it is an act of empowerment, and that the public's attitude towards nudity is outdated and needs to change.

The Guardian’s media commentator Roy Greenslade has suggested that the paper  could be "quietly weaning itself off" the page, as he notes that it had not been consistently publishing the photographs. But, he said he did not think "campaigners of No More Page 3 should break out the champagne just yet".

Critics point out that Murdoch expressed similar sentiments last year, but no action to axe the segment has yet been taken.

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