Thursday, 3 April 2014

Serious About Equality

Tom Watson writes:

As a Dad, I worry about the message that Page 3 gives to my children, namely that it’s ok to objectify women. This outdated feature belongs to a sexist era and it’s extraordinary that it still exists at all.

How can we talk about equality when the UK’s highest circulation national newspaper is filled with pictures of men in suits, and yet one of the few images of women is a Page 3 picture?

In 2014, women are still fighting for the right to be both mothers and workers – what does the existence of Page 3 teach our kids about women’s place in society?

The Sun is actively marketed as a ‘family’ newspaper by its owners News UK. The tabloid is sold in almost every newsagent and supermarket.

So it’s hard to avoid regardless of whether you choose to buy it or not.

And as a parent it’s a challenge to stop your children seeing Page 3 when The Sun can be found lying around in shops and restaurants, and on buses and trains.

That’s why the Labour party should adopt the leadership position set by Gloria De Piero, along with every other female member of the shadow cabinet, and officially support the No More Page 3 campaign.

If Labour is serious about equality then it should become the first major party to endorse No More Page 3’s message.

They already have a long list of supporters including Mumsnet, the Royal College of Midwives and the Associations of Teachers and Lecturers.

The biggest boost was when the Girl Guides came out in support which has led to others putting their heads above the parapet.

There’s another reason to support No More Page 3.

For Labour to be successful again, we have to learn to digitally engage and listen. Properly listen.

There are a lot of young people involved in this campaign who expect politicians to support their cause.

Our constitutional borders should be porous enough to allow groups like No More Page 3 to have their views heard and discussed.

This is a movement which has grown thanks to the power of social media, with more than 27,000 Twitter followers and 25,000 Facebook friends to date.

And the team behind the campaign has shown unwavering commitment to their cause despite enduring relentless abuse and trolling by cynics and bigots.

It’s sickening that Lucy Anne Holmes, the writer and actor who started the campaign, has endured death threats and misogynistic insults online.

So this makes her achievements and those of the campaign’s team of volunteers even more laudable.

It proves how much can be done when people come together, use social media, campaign for what they believe in and don’t give up.

Campaigns like this should be celebrated and respected by mainstream parties like ours.

Rebecca Evans, our Assembly Member in Wales, is already a leading supporter of the No More Page 3 campaign.

Her argument is that Page 3 ‘normalises the trivial objectification of women, entrenches inequality and sexist attitudes.’

In a great act of leadership, Rebecca managed to get cross party support for an Individual Members Debate on the subject, gaining endorsement from our leader in Wales Carwyn Jones.

Like Gloria and Rebecca, I don’t blame the women who appear on Page 3.

I just think it’s time for this anachronism to go. It’s time for the Sun to change.

It’s also time for Labour, as a Party, to back officially the No More Page 3 campaign and send a different kind of message to our children.

That this is a culture that we don’t want the next generation to buy into.

If you’d like to show your support for No More Page 3, sign up here.

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