Kate’s topless pictures raise broader questions about the practice of publishing images of denuded women in the media. JOANNE SAVAGE asks if men would stand for similar objectification
THE furore surrounding those blurry topless photos of Kate Middleton published - to the horror of all at Buckingham Palace - in French Closer magazine, has got me thinking about the wider issue of pictures of semi-naked women in the press.
What about the many women, for example, who consent to being photographed topless for the cheap titillation that is page three of The Sun?
This form of female objectification seems wrong to me, and the feeling one gets, spying someone, awkward and furtive as they scan the mammary glands on show, leaves me firmly in support of people like actor and author Lucy-Anne Holmes, who has launched a campaign against The Sun’s page three practice.
Clare Short launched a similar action in the mid-80s - to no avail. The practice has also been discussed at the Levenson Inquiry with feminists again insisting that we should all turn against this cheap, insulting voyeurism.
Let’s get this straight: a topless woman in a daily national paper is such base pandering to the misogynistic leer, a lazy, cheap handing out of confection to the lascivious male gaze.
I feel frankly horrified that we still live in a world where women are photographed like this, so exposed and pouty in the interests of male amusement and higher newspaper sales. I mean, what’s the story here? Woman has breasts! Wow.
And, depressingly, women line up willingly to oblige in posing for page three, perhaps in the hope of one day having as much credibility as Katie Price, or of acquiring an adulterous footballer husband, wardrobes of designer shoes and several centrespreads in glossy magazines.
An endless parade of buxom blondes and sultry brunettes line up to be snapped and displayed like this, enjoying the phyrric victory of having been judged ‘hot’, which is to say symmetrical or shapely enough to make the frame and get the thumbs up from the lads. So they are drooled over, their bodies used to make a profit.
Page three is a hideous tradition that refuses to die and one, in my opinion, that only encourages less intelligent men to think of women as objects rather than autonomous individuals deserving of respect.
But if Lucy-Anne Holmes and the rest of the anti-page three brigade don’t achieve victory, and the tawdry tradition clings on, I’ve decided there’s only one strategy that should be followed here in the interests of the strictest gender equality.
And that’s to get a man to pose for the other side of the page, displaying his brawn or the lack thereof in skimpy, tight boxers. If women are to be demeaned in this way, let’s have a similar objectification of men. Let’s see how they do or don’t measure up: are they lacking muscle of inches? Where do they sag? Could you pinch an inch? Too hairy? Too chiselled? Nice lips? Hot or not? Marks out of 10?
Will men enjoy being crudely appraised for their bodies? Or might they find, in the end, that it trivialises their gender, leaves them open to ridicule, then gradually instils an insecurity that has them endlessly preening, working out, flexing, waxing, exfoliating, bleaching, toning, conditioning, and moisturising until they are image-obsessed and slowly driven nuts by it?
Let’s play fair and see how men like being on page three in skimpy pants, slathered in baby oil and pouting amorously. Will they stand for it?
I’m off to pitch my idea to The Sun