On Tuesday morning this week, a nation of boob coveters (and boob owners) woke up to the news that The Sun, Britain’s highest circulating newspaper, had discontinued its long running page 3 feature.

Until the departure of Rebekah Brooks in 2013, ‘Carly, 21, from Slough’ would make a mildly opinionated comment on a salient issue and display her tits for the approval of carpet salesmen and their beer drinking mates across the land. More recently, Carly would just do the tits without the opinion.

Aside from reassuring middle-aged men that they can still get a lumpy semi each morning, the page has never served a purpose during the four decades it’s existed. But in the last couple of years, the nips-n-news format has come under increasing scrutiny thanks to a feminist reawakening within mainstream culture.

The argument, as put forward by campaign group No More Page 3 in a press statement reacting to the news, is that “the accessibility of the Page 3 picture, in the front of the paper, makes access to sexualised women’s bodies as much of a given as the TV listings or the crossword puzzle”, thus reducing the significance of women to their appearance and allure.

But they’re also pretty chuffed with the development, announcing that this is “a great day for people power!” and “a very pleasant and welcome surprise!”

Overuse of exclamation marks aside, really? Does the fact that pictures of naked baps are now banished from the third page of  The Sun really represent a step towards gender equality, given that all they’ll be replaced with is pictures of bikini clad baps?

Women will still be depicted as dumb sexual objects, they’ll just have two little bits of their body censored, which is something campaigns like Free The Nipple actually fight against.

In a world where it’s no accident that none of the emojis doing things like jobs and sports are female, what message about the role of women are we continuing to send to our little sisters by celebrating this ‘victory’?

If yesterday’s page 3 is anything to go by, it’s this: ‘get hair extensions, frolic on a beach, bounce your boobs around for a photographer and you’ll be rich and happy’.

 

Photo via Flickr: Ben Cumming