I have been supporting the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign for a while now and, as some may know, have been campaigning for the FXU to do the same. I have always been a passionate advocate of ‘No More Page 3’ as I believe women should not be objectified in the media, especially in a national newspaper which is marketed as a family read.
The recent announcement of The Sun’s Page 3 partnership with the breast cancer charity Coppafeel however has raised many interesting questions. Can you really campaign against a publication that raises awareness of such a widespread disease? What can be wrong with encouraging women to check their breasts through this publication?
The ‘No More Page 3′ campaign released a statement saying that, although they support the work of cancer charities and awareness raising, they are disappointed that “The Sun has decided to use these sexualised images of young women to highlight breast cancer”. Obviously it would be wrong not to support a campaign or charity that is working to raise awareness of breast cancer and I think that the founder of Coppafeel should be congratulated for their partnership with one of the most widely distributed publications in Britain.
However, I also share the feelings of the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign in that I, too, am disappointed. The main issue with the campaign is that by portraying scantily clad women checking their breasts, they are sexualising a terrible disease that affects many people directly and indirectly. The campaign also objectifies women who have this disease, as it is portrayed as not something that an individual faces but rather a disease of the breasts. Furthermore, this is also an issue as many women who suffer from breast cancer end up losing one or both their breasts, therefore using the Page 3 images where breasts are obviously seen as a main focus can be upsetting to those who have had mastectomies. Another fact that the campaign has brushed over is that both men and women can suffer from breast cancer. By sexualising and gender stereotyping the images used by The Sun, it is doing nothing to raise awareness that men should be checking their breasts too.
I think that this partnership has highlighted an important issue about how people choose to raise awareness of breast cancer. The recent ‘no make-up’ selfies that took Facebook by storm raised over £3 million for Breast Cancer UK, which was amazing, but many argued that it excluded men, belittled the sufferers of cancer, as the idea behind the ‘no make-up’ selfies was to show solidarity with those suffering (apparently not wearing make-up in public is an abject pain equal to that of cancer) and had little relevance to raising awareness about breast cancer itself.
Overall, I still stand by the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign as I am against the sexist representation of women in the media. Hopefully this discussion of the issues with the Coppafeel campaign will allow individuals to think about the ways in which awareness about cancer is raised in the future and encourage the media to steer away from the hyper sexualised image of breast cancer.
Tilda is a second year Zoology student and the founder of FXU’s Feminist Society. She is also your Equal Opportunities Officer and hopes to continue supporting the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign next term.