Hello there, fellow male. I have something that I would like to talk to you about. It’s a campaign that I would like to suggest you would do well to support. It is the ‘No More Boobs on Page 3’ campaign.
First of all, my own personal conversion. On a commute I saw a man sitting reading The Sun, holding a page outwards and into the carriage in order to read its other side. He was reading page 4, which meant that page 3 and that day’s lady lovely was being silently broadcast to half a carriage. The casual, ‘this doesn’t matter to anyone’ way in which a young, naked woman was there for us all to see got me thinking.
Imagine, I thought to myself, that you were a woman. That you could stop playing with your lovely hair long enough to look around at the way that women are generally represented in the media. Either young with an emphasis on looks, or a victim or a subject of ridicule. Or naked. That is, if you’re even involved or represented at all. It would piss me off, I should think.
So I’ve signed the petition asking Dominic Mohan, Editor of the Sun, to take the bare boobs out of The Sun (you can too here, if you like) and watched with interest as various groups have united in campaigning for something resembling equality in how women are represented in the media. I have even engaged in some sharp gender terrorism. Upon entering a supermarket and pausing in front of the newspapers, I decided to show my colours by taking one of the less subtle front pages and turning it round so that Fernando Torres was now the individual being ruthlessly mocked (although it had been put back before I’d even left the shop). Take that, the man.
But I would like to enlist you too. Basically, why not support this cause? CALM is partly about campaigning for equality for men, to allow them to break out of the stereotype and feel comfortable with talking about how they feel. So why not support the lovelier-haired sex in their quest for equality in being treated, you know, less like shit?
Two thoughts may occur. Number 1 – hey man, we’ve got enough to do helping each other without trying to influence national editorial policy. Well, you can do both, they’re both good causes, both valid points. It’s not an either/or situation. Number 2 – don’t those crazy feminists want to smash the patriarchy, and as fully paid-up members of the Penis Holders Guild, wouldn’t that inconvenience us? Well maybe, but quite frankly - tough. Equality is equality and that’s it. Let’s judge each other by what we say and do across the board rather than how lovely our hair is. Plus, think of all the male models with lovely bums who don’t get any work because nobody seems to like the idea of a male g-string. Equality for our beautifully-rumped brethren!
We will each have our own opinion on some of these wider issues. Victoria’s Secret models can currently be seen being all statuesque and traffic accident inducing on the sides of buses and some might say that’s the same thing. But that company sells sexy underwear. That’s how you sell sexy underwear. And if you like to have a browse around their catalogue for kicks then, personally, I’d say go nuts. But does it need to be in a national newspaper? Do you like ‘men’s magazines’ that think of ladies as little other than people who just cannot wear clothes no matter how many times you tell ‘em? Should we think, oh yeah, all women look like Anne Hathaway, and it’s not at all weird that I see and hear a lot less of women beyond the age of 40 or in an expert role in the mainstream media?
In a capitalist society, our power is as consumers. If you want to effect change you withdraw your custom. Mulling over these issues makes me think more carefully about who gets my pound and which websites get my hit. Exactly how we feel about each newspaper, magazine and website is up to each of us, but I implore you to take a second to think about how these media outlets treat women (and indeed men, for that matter) before you go a-googling.
In short, I very firmly believe that it is perfectly possible to get behind this cause and still be a man, as can be encapsulated in this handy chant that I hope to hear in a fulsome baritone at the next protest march:
What do we want?
Fairer treatment of women in the media!
When do we want it?
Give us a minute, the football’s nearly finished...
It’s pretty simple. If we want the sisters to get on board with what we want, we need tget on board with the sisters. Although we’re keeping the remote control. Take that, Germaine Greer, although I do like your hair.