Thanks for the mammaries. Page 3 covers up

It’s early days, but the Sun has started to put a few more clothes on

Page 3 of the Sun on Tuesday. A new look?

Page 3 of the Sun on Tuesday. A new look?

 

Readers of Britain’s biggest-selling tabloid newspaper the Sun are getting their mammary quotient nipped in the bud.

According to reports, it seems the newspaper has quietly dropped Page 3, which has brought readers a photograph of a topless woman every day since 1970. At the age of 44, breasts are well past their sell-by date anyway. Or so Hollywood would have us believe.

Of course, Ireland had its nipples covered up in August 2013 when Page 3 was dropped from the Irish edition.

“It was simply a case of Irish readers wanting different things,” said Paul Clarkson, editor of the Irish Sun. “Ireland isn’t Britain. We like the same football teams, chocolate bars, TV shows, but we have different needs from a paper.

“Our own readers never really had a problem with Page 3, it’s very tame compared to the likes of what you’d see in Jeremy Kyle’s show or in Heat magazine.

“But it seems to be a bar for some people who would never pick up the paper and I want all the people who think the Irish Sun is not for them because of Page Three to have a chance to try it.”

Whether dropping the topless photographs was a victory for feminism or free-market economics is open to question.

It’s early days yet to claim the Sun had bade farewell to all gratuitous bare female flesh, but the tabloid started to put a few more clothes on last Friday.

Another newspaper from Rupert Murdoch’s stable, The Times reported that it “understands that Friday’s edition of the paper was the last that will carry an image of a glamour model with bare breasts on that page.”

For the idly curious, yesterday’s Page 3 featured model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley posing in lingerie and today’s shows two Hollyoaks actors running along a beach wearing bikinis. Progress comes in skimpy measures.

The No More Page 3 campaign, which launched in 2012 with the tagline “boobs aren’t news”, got more than a quarter of a million people to petition the paper’s editor to “stop conditioning your readers to view women as sex objects”.

Campaign founder Lucy-Anne Holmes told BBC2’s Newsnight that its opponents had no wish to see Page 3 banned, rather they hoped for voluntary withdrawal.

She added the group would not claim victory if scantily clad women continued to appear in the Sun. However, she said that it was a “step in the right direction” if they were no longer topless.

“The Sun hasn’t suddenly decided that women say, think and do interesting and incredible things, it’s still basically saying women are here for decoration, but it’s a step in the right direction,” she said.

Not everyone approved of News International’s call.

Fine Gael Fingal County Councillor and champion of workers’ rights Keith Redmond tweeted: “Good work feminazis, you just made lots of fellow women unemployed because their work offended you. #NoMorePage3”

A glance at the Sun online would have reassured him there will continue to be ample work for topless models on the website. He might like to check out Lucy, who features in the latest shoot.

It seems money not the liberation of the fairer sex may have triumphed in the end, though.

Rupert Murdoch took to Twitter last year to say that he thought Page 3 “old fashioned”, but he added that “readers seem to disagree”.

The Irish solution to Murdoch’s problem might have produced the ideal customer survey.

Page 3 was dropped from the Irish Sun in 2013, but sales remained buoyant. And bouncing figures have always worked for Mr Murdoch.

Also, what’s the point in paper breasts when you can get them in 3D on the internet? Page 3 had started to look quaint.

Murdoch can forget about slinking out of the door.

Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the British Labour party, said she would ensure the Sun would not be able to make any announcement quietly.

She said that losing Page 3 was “the Sun moving into the 21st century”.

“Because actually we do think in a newspaper, which is about news. The idea of girls standing there in their knickers with some sort of pseudo-political quote – I mean it really is not the representation of women’s role in this country that I want to see,” Harman said.

This battle has been won. The war goes on. Interesting times.