Ok, let me disclose upfront that I am biased on both counts here. There are two change.org petitions running at the moment that I’ve signed. The first, the #nomorepage3 campaign, has 194,796 signatures at the time of writing. The second, the petition to ‘Remove the Anti-Homeless Spikes’ has garnered 127,852. The first started two years ago, the latter just a week ago.
I’m biased because I work for a homelessness charity, and am passionate both about ending homelessness and about promoting the rights and fair treatment of the homeless. I am also biased because, as a lifelong feminist (and middle class snob) I am opposed to Page 3 and dislike the Sun.
With these ‘credentials’ in mind, I must confess that I am really surprised that the anti-homeless spikes have caused such an outcry in Britain, and that Page 3 has caused so little. Of course, I am delighted that the humane treatment of Britain’s homeless has been brought to public attention through widespread media coverage. Journos and politicians who wouldn’t normally mention homelessness or, the sceptical me wonders, even give it much thought, are lamenting the ‘shocking’ and ‘inhumane’ anti-homeless measures. A week ago when I googled ‘homelessness spike’ I found a 13% year on year increase in rough sleeping in London that has scarcely bothered the public. Today when I search for the same I find a plethora of articles on metal studs outside luxury flats and Tesco stores. It is surely a good thing that the British public are sitting up and taking notice that thousands of people are homeless. In Britain. In the twenty-first century. It’s mad.
But do you know what else is crazy? The fact that every day the largest image of a woman in Britain’s best-selling “family” newspaper is that of a topless girl (emphatically girl, not woman). In Britain. In the twenty-first century. It’s mad. For God’s sake, the Daily Mirror, hardly high-brow or prudish, got rid of topless models on page 3 thirty years ago.
I’m not blind. I know that page 3 is not the only aspect of society that degrades women and promotes the idea that the point of women is just to be beautiful objects for men to use. Adverts, music videos, and porn are all among the many other culprits. Let’s not be complacent, we have a massive mountain to scale, and it often feels as though the objectification and sexualisation of women gets worse every day.
I’m glad that 127,852 have objected to anti-homeless measures this week. But I really think that the British public needs to sit up and take a stand against the discriminatory and anti-sexual equality measures that are happening every day. There’s a lot to do, and ending page 3 is just the start. If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition now. And then tell all of your friends and family to do the same. If you want to see an end to sex discrimination, be the change you want to see.