Why No More Page 3 keeps me sane

Sometimes I feel like this…

No More Page 3, Dinsmore, Murdoch, Sun 1

Hello resentment!

The standard definition of ‘resent’ is to feel anger or acrimony.

Trace the word back to its Old French root, ‘resentir’ – and it simply means ‘to feel again’.

It’s the most challenging emotional state for me. I can’t afford to hang out with it. Re-feeling things over and over messes up the circuitry in my head. Where many other people can ride it out, I struggle – it’s in the re-feeling that the emotions get stronger, until my brain fogs over. In this state, I can forget the basics like sleeping and eating right.

Left unchecked, re-feeling rewires my brain and smoke comes out of my ears.

No More Page 3, Dinsmore, Murdoch, Sun 2
My main aim in life is to take care of my mental health (I learnt that one the hard way!).

And for me, resentment is like a warning sign on the motorway. When it flashes up, I have to stop and rest.

Resentment about Page 3

It’s the trickiest type of resentment to overcome – recurring thoughts and ideas, which are rooted in a truthful or reasonable belief.

So I’m going to list all the recurring thoughts I have about Page 3 here:

1. Why can’t David Dinsmore see the simple truths about Page 3?

  • Page 3 is sexist and outdated
  • Page 3 is soft porn, which doesn’t belong in a family newspaper
  • Soft porn, next to articles about teenage popstars aimed at teenage girls, is unacceptable
  • Soft porn, near to promotions aimed at children, is unacceptable
  • Soft porn, next to articles about rape or domestic violence, is wrong in a society struggling with its anger towards women
  • Page 3 depicts a narrow and controlled definition of aesthetics – it’s a restrictive set of body shapes and it’s undiverse
  • Page 3 is not about female empowerment – it’s about passivity and ubiquitous availability of women.

2. Why doesn’t Rupert Murdoch take responsibility?

There are calls for change from hundreds of thousands of people. Surely this feedback about a 43 year feature in his newspaper is of interest to him?

Since his 2013 comment that he was ‘considering’ whether Page 3 was ‘so last century’, he’s kept quiet.

Perhaps he is watching but has been advised to say nothing?

Time to speak up, Mr M – it’s your paper!

3. Surely there are Sun employees who agree with No More Page 3.

Amongst the people who work for the Sun, some must have doubts about Page 3.

Perhaps there are quiet conversations about Page 3 after hours, where Sun employees dare to air their views.

Perhaps some speak about it at home to their partners or friends.

Probably they’re keen to keep their jobs – so maybe they don’t raise their voices at work.

At the Times, however, also owned by Rupert Murdoch, journalists have spoken out, including India Knight and Caitlin Moran.

However, Rupert Murdoch and David Dinsmore are still catching up…

They either don’t think Page 3 is harmful or sexist. Or they do think Page 3 is harmful and sexist, but they believe there are greater pressures on them (#MakingMoney).

‘Aren’t there more important things to worry about?’

This is often a deflection their supporters use. When asked directly about Page 3, they often point to extreme porn on the internet in the next sentence – look over there, they say, you should be more concerned about that! This is interesting, in that it’s a tacit acceptance that Page 3 is porn, albeit at the softer end of the scale.

This suggests that they do know that Page 3 isn’t all cheeky smiles and family fun. They know the context is wrong. So whilst they say that Page 3 is a good way of selling newspapers – it’s an inconvenient truth for them that they also explicitly position their product as a family newspaper (with offers and articles directly targeting families with kids).

In the mean time, this ‘commercial defence’ of Page 3 is very bad news for girls and women.

Dinsmore’s worry list

Dinsmore’s ‘more important things to worry about’ may be:

  • keeping hold of remaining readers
  • keeping anxious colleagues in Finance happy
  • keeping staff in jobs in a declining industry
  • keeping Page 3 colleagues/friends happy
  • keeping his job as editor

It’s a lot of trying to keep things as they are (fear) and not a lot of trying something new (courage).

Yes, it would take a spoonful of courage for David Dinsmore to choose to end Page 3…

I bet he has considered in quiet moments the ‘what ifs’ of removing the soft porn:

  • What if ending Page 3 attracts hundreds of thousands of new readers?
  • What if it brings back old readers who have stopped buying it because of Page 3?
  • What if people really are so sick of sexism that they will support newspapers that lead on ending media sexism?
  • What if there are many people who would love a mainstream tabloid newspaper that reliably has appropriate content for a family audience?
  • What if a simple decision to end Page 3 is so widely reported that Dinsmore goes down in history as the editor who had the courage to shake things up? (Okay, I’m appealing to your vanity here Dave, but I really can see your name in lights!!)

David Dinsmore, Man Who Ended Page 3, Sun, No More Page 3 1

David Dinsmore, Man Who Ended Page 3, Sun, No More Page 3 2

So many Sun editors that went before Dinsmore have been forgotten – and those who are remembered have regrets about Page 3 or regret their defence of Page 3.

There, it’s all out! Aaaaaaah, that’s better!

These are the recurring thoughts that baffle me most about Page 3.

But I shan’t linger on these questions too much longer or my head might short circuit!

So now, I shall leave the inner workings of Murdoch and Co’s minds because it’s beyond me!

I surrender, Dave and Rupes. And I pray to the Great Neurological Pathways in the Sky that your brains get rewired soon!

Meanwhile, I’ll stay focused on the wins…

The good news is that this is EASY!

No More Page 3 wins everyday. There’s an extraordinary energy about the campaign and a strong heartbeat. There is undeniable warmth and humour. There is boundless creativity.

When I keep sight of the essence of No More Page 3, I feel very happy – which is great news for my mental health :-)

Celebrating the wins

No More Page 3, Dinsmore, Murdoch, Sun 3

Celebration is powerful and attractive.

Celebration leads to more celebration – it’s irresistible and exciting like a Mexican wave in a stadium:

Here it comes! Get ready…JUMP!!!

Hundreds of thousands of people! Get set….JUMP!!!

Where are the wins with No More Page 3?

Everywhere.

Incredible things happen everyday.

Every time a schoolgirl writes in, questioning Page 3 images in a national newspaper or reporting harassment at school – that’s a win for self-belief.

Every time a boy finds his voice and signs the petition on Change – that is a win for courage.

Every time a supporter writes a blog or poem, makes a video, draws a picture, takes a photo or writes a song – that is a win for creativity.

Every time people are inspired to set up their own campaigns and projects – that is a win for society. Great examples include Child Eyes and The Alternative Page 3.

Every time Cheltenham Ladies FC and Notts Forest Ladies FC run out on the pitch in their No More Page 3 kit (funded outright by NMP3 supporters) – that is a win for sport.

Every time there’s a stand up night or a funny video or a play written and performed – that is a win for entertainment.

Every time someone speaks out for the first time about their experiences of sexism and they decide not to take it anymore – that is a win for self-respect.

Every time people come together on Twitter and Facebook, at events and demos, in choirs and choreographed flashmobs – it’s a win for unity.

Every time an MP or an organisation publicly supports No More Page 3 – that’s a win for representation.

And it’s ALL this winning that defuses ALL my resentment.

There is a win in every expression, an abundance of free expression. Now there’s a familiar phrase ;-)

No More Page 3, Dinsmore, Murdoch, Sun 4

Sunday morning: 7am

My head is a fairground ride and I’d like it to stop.

There are self-centred thoughts, such as: where is my place in this world? What am I really meant to be doing with my life?

There are more useful and grounding thoughts, such as: what can I add to the day? And where can I find helpful direction?

There are strong feelings of anger and fear, which stoke up the fire of mental ill health. I need to find ways to express those feelings, without over-indulgence. It is no good at all to suppress anger and fear; however to immerse myself in those feelings is equally harmful.

Sometimes I feel battered by anger and fear. They are emotional poisons. They seep into every cell and zap energy. When possessed by those feelings, I question whether I am seeing things as they really are. Is this emotional lens just mental illness? Or are these feelings genuine responses to a troubled world?

And why if certain things in life upset me so much, do I continue to look at them?  Why not concentrate entirely on the things that make me happy? Is this selfish? Or is this just survival?

All I know for sure this morning is a turbulent mind is of no use to me or to anyone else; I must work my daily programme to keep recovery on track. I must always seek ways to step back from precipice thinking. I must pick up my recovery tools and use them one by one, starting with the basics: take some deep breaths; drink some water; have a shower; eat breakfast; meditate.

Perhaps then I will be able to talk about these feelings with another human being without too much attachment – anger and fear need to be addressed for sure, but at the same time they are just feelings. They cannot kill me. They will pass.

Who do I talk to at times like this? Yes, I have a lovely partner and an army of friends, both in recovery circles and in other networks. Many of these are people have direct experience of mental ill health; they share with me their experiences, which always helps to pierce my faulty thinking. And I can do the same for them when they feel unwell – we are mirrors for each other when we cannot see ourselves.

But often, I find myself scrolling through the long list of numbers in my phone and I feel that I cannot phone anyone. This, of course, is my disease. When the thinking attacks, it tells me I must be alone – and I know this is the worst thing I can do. This is the biggest lie of mental illness; it tells me to shut down from human contact to survive.

Through writing down my feelings, often I can find a way back to the day. Writing often shifts the solid barricades that form in my mind, just enough so I can look outwards again.

This isn’t meant to make perfect sense. I don’t need to worry about that. It’s just important to write and share today. Then move on with the day.

It is sunny through the blind.

It will be good to get outside.

“To Freedom’s Cause” tells us why #EmilyMatters

“We should simply and straightforwardly have a statue of Emily Davison in parliament.” So said Emily Thornberry MP last night, the founder of the Emily Davison statue in parliament campaign – here’s the petition, sign it quick, because #EmilyMatters.

Emily Matters, Emily Davison, statue in Parliament, To Freedoms Cause, Kate Willoughby

Why does Emily matter?

Well, over a century on from Emily Davison losing her life in protest at the Derby (1913):

  • Only 6 out of 100 non-royal statues in parliament are of women: 2 of those statues are Margaret Thatcher and 2 are Nancy Astor. This adds up to a grand total of 4 women who have been deemed worthy for bronzing up on the parliamentary estate – what does this say to school girls and boys who visit the Houses of Parliament?
  • “Only 20% of government front benchers are women” – what does this say about David Cameron’s commitment to equality?
  • There are 22% female MPs and 78% male MPs – what does this say about women’s involvement in decision-making in this country?

It says, THIS AIN’T BLOODY GOOD ENOUGH!

To Freedom’s Cause - by Kate Willoughby

The story of Emily Davison and her extraordinary role in the UK Suffragette movement has been brought to life in breathtaking style by writer and actor Kate Willoughby.

Kate has written and produced a play called ‘To Freedom’s Cause‘, which was first performed in 2009 and has been toured and developed since then.

To Freedom’s Cause was performed last night at the Houses of Parliament, as part of the #EmilyMatters campaign. In a packed Jubilee room, with barely a centimetre between the front row of the audience and the actors on stage, the cast of this extraordinary piece of theatre held us captivated throughout their performance. We laughed. We cried. We were inspired.

We watched as Emily’s story unfolded; we were shown how Emily struggled to reconcile her relationship with her mother along side her conviction to ‘the cause’ (the Suffragette movement). Emily has never felt more alive, she says. She cannot give up her passion to win the right to vote for women. She cannot settle down, despite pleas from her mother. The tension between mother and daughter is matched in equal measure with tenderness; in captivating scenes with actors Kyra Williams and Kate Willoughby (playing Margaret and Emily Davison), we witness their conflict, love and ultimately loss, when Emily dies at the Derby.

Kate’s play has resulted from her meticulous research, which sprang from her discovery of Margaret Davison’s last letter to her daughter Emily, written after the tragic events at the Epsom Derby – a letter which Emily never got to read herself.

To Freedom’s Cause brings history to life in fascinating and terrifying detail. The brutal force-feeding Emily endured for going on hunger strike, for example, a thick tube forced down her throat 49 times, under restraint. The play dramatises the inhumanity of this treatment of the Suffragettes and references the 1913 Cat and Mouse Act, through which “the government sought to deal with the problem of hunger striking suffragettes with the 1913 Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Act, commonly known as the Cat and Mouse Act. This Act allowed for the early release of prisoners who were so weakened by hunger striking that they were at risk of death.  They were to be recalled to prison once their health was recovered, where the process would begin again.”

The rest of the cast were brilliant too – they all played multiple roles in the piece, a feat in itself to remember which accent to deliver! Eleanor Dennison as Flora Drummond aka The General had us laughing with her stirring calls to battle. Fiona Geddes was brilliant as Connie Ellis and Miss Smith. Darren Godbold played Herbert Jones, the King’s Jockey, who is rightly remembered as part of these historical events.

Here are the cast and director relaxing after the performance: Eleanor Dennison, Fiona Geddes, Brian Astbury (director), Kyra Williams, Kate Willoughby and Darren Godbold.

Cast and crew, To Freedoms Cause, Houses of Parliament, Emily Matters, Emily Davison, Suffragettes

Is equality still worth fighting for?

This was the debate that followed To Freedom’s Cause. The debate was chaired by Jane Garvey (BBC Woman’s Hour) with panelists Chi Onwurah MP, Dr Helen Pankhurst, Yas Necati (feminist campaigner) and Emma Barnett (women’s editor of the Daily Telegraph).

Jane Garvey, Yas Necati, Helen Pankhurst, Emily Thornberry MP, Chi Onwurah, Emma Barnett, Telegraph

In a wide-ranging debate, we heard from Emma Barnett about her investigation into dishonest and dangerous ‘advice’ being given by abortion counsellors at Crisis Pregnancy Centres in the UK – amongst other spurious claims Emma and other Telegraph reporters uncovered, women have been told that they could become child sex abusers if they choose to have an abortion.

Feminist campaigner, Yas Necati, winner of a Guardian Women’s Award in 2013, described the landscape of feminism at school and her contributions to the No More Page 3 campaign, including an origami, tree-climbing, paper plane protest at the Sun HQ in London.

There was an uplifting message from Dr Helen Pankhurst: “I find so many young women are politically engaged,” Helen said. Helen and Laura Pankhurst are leading “Walk in Her Shoes” on International Women’s Day 2014, launching CARE’s campaign for equality and justice for women in developing countries.

Chi Onwurah MP had the room laughing when she pointed out the painting over the fireplace. She said wherever you go in parliament, you’re surrounded by 18th century men.

Jane Garvey held the debate together, bringing in audience comments and Twitter questions to the debate. There was an audience comment about the need for more sisterhood – how we need to stand together and support one another more. Another woman spoke about how difficult it was to go back to work on an equal footing after having a baby.

For my part, I was there to cheer on my good friend Yas and also to represent the No More Page 3 campaign. I had a funny incident on the way through security going into the Houses of Parliament. Two burly coppers told me to cover up my No More Page 3 T-shirt – but in the nick of time, in stepped a brilliant female policewoman. She said to her colleagues ‘we’ve had Suffragettes and all sorts going through tonight, she’s alright as she is!’

The policewoman went on to tell me how the Sun was all over the parliamentary estate and how a copy was open in the parliamentary cafe that day – naked bloody skydiving, she said, that was what we had today. To which, I said the Sun shouldn’t be in workplaces and I encouraged her to start a campaign :-)

For more about Kate Willoughy Productions and ‘To Freedom’s Cause’ – please visit Kate’s website. 

Am I hearing domestic violence through the floor?

The couple who live below us in our block of flats have screaming rows.

Once or twice a month, a row escalates downstairs to the point of rage. It goes on for anywhere between a few seconds and 5 minutes. It usually ends with a slamming sound.

It’s horrible to hear those sounds coming through the floor. My boyfriend and I look at each other, not sure what to do. We don’t know our neighbours well. We occasionally pass them on the street. And we don’t know the full details. They both scream as much as each other in those rows. We’ve never heard the sound of someone being physically attacked or crying. But the sounds that come up through the floor do feel violent. These are not just ordinary disagreements or annoyances.

My natural inclination is to feel for the woman in this situation. Most of the time, we can only hear the sound of their rage, the words are too muffled through the floor. 

But today, I heard the woman shout ‘bully’ so loud that the word came through the floor. My partner was out at the time, but when he came back home, he said he saw her outside the flat.

I am going to speak to her when I see her on her own, ask her if she’s okay.

So if anyone has direct experience of this type of situation, please advise.

3 brilliant women and 1 Prince

Prince 4This is Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL – Donna Grantis, Hannah Ford and Ida Neilsen.

One of the best things about sneaking into this guerrilla gig at Camden’s Electric Ballroom last night was seeing these 3 talented women – two brilliant guitarists and one drummer – playing as equals along side the mighty Prince.

Here are a few dodgy camera phone pics – and here’s a great review on the Guardian.

Prince 2

Prince 3

Prince 1

4th wave feminist men – loving your work and your words

‘We’ve come back to the simplicity of the idea that feminism means thinking men and women should be treated equally,” says Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project.

Laura’s quote came at the start of BBC Woman’s Hour on 3rd January, which went on to discuss how men can be part of 4th wave feminism.

“To what extent can men be part of the feminist movement?” Jenni Murray asked. “Do they want to join the struggle for equality? Are they made welcome by the women’s movement?”

Step up Ben Bailey Smith (aka Doc Brown) speaking about his work with Great Men & No More Page 3. And Chris Green, Campaign Director for the White Ribbon Campaign.

Below are a few quotes from the BBC interview – it’s well worth a listen in full here (interview starts at 1 minute in).

Doc Brown:

“I didn’t wake up and think, right, it’s time to fight the good fight and fly the flag of feminism…it was nothing as contrived as that.”

“I’ve always been into human rights. This was the way I was raised. And when something’s not right you can sense it…some people speak out about it, others just prefer to have that mob mentality and not say anything.”

“It just felt like the right thing to do to be involved.”

Chris Green:

“Violence against women is the worst human rights violation in the world today, according to the UN, so people don’t usually say what drew you to work with Amnesty International or something like this. It needs to be done…there’s a need for men to be engaged…men listen to other men. It’s men’s responsibility because we cause most of the violence in the world today.”

Doc Brown:

“I think [the term "women's issues"] is a joke to be honest…when people say ‘I didn’t know you were a feminist, how come you’re standing up for this? You trying to build your female audience? Blah blah blah’….I say it’s a human rights [issue]…if I turn a blind eye to sexism, that’s exactly the same as turning a blind eye to racism or to homophobia.”

“I’m only realising now, I was born a feminist.”

Chris Green:

“There are still old-fashioned attitudes about traditional masculinity and we have to try and change those – and we will change those in time. White Ribbon Scotland just did a survey of 2000 men in Scotland and found that 71% still feel that men should have a controlling interest in a relationship – and you think, bloody hell, that’s a bit old-fashioned really. So we’re working to give people the tools to make it easier to get involved.”

“We’ve been hugely welcomed by the women’s movement.”

Doc Brown:

“I work with a couple of initiatives, along side Great Men, also No More Page 3, and the way that I’m treated by these largely female organisations is unreal, they are so excited to have me.”

“I did a little video that went viral about Page 3 and you know, half the issues that I had with it, apart from all the positivity from a lot of women, was guys going, ‘Dude, why are you blowing us up? You’re embarrassing us?’….Dude, these are human rights. This is your problem.”

Chris Green:

“We’re giving men the opportunity not to be put in a little box of the definitions of masculinity. We have to keep emphasising it’s in our, men’s, self-interest – to be involved in changing definitions of masculinity.”

“If you ask an average guy, does he feel powerful? He won’t say, ‘yes I do feel powerful.’ He feels disempowered. And yet you’ve got to pretend all the time to be where you aren’t, which means you can’t afford to show your weakness. So White Ribbon Campaign works with men and boys all the time to offer them alternatives to this sort of behaviour.”

Doc Brown:

“I know what it’s like to be the boy in a group of boys, saying stuff about girls and knowing it’s wrong, but being scared to say anything – because of that peer pressure thing. You don’t want to be that uncool guy.”

Chris Green:

“10 years now. We’re getting bigger and bigger. We’re providing 50 local authorities with campaign materials. We’ve got 4000 followers on Twitter @menantiviolence. We’ve got 16,000 men signed the pledge online, Scotland’s got another 4000. That’s 20,000 people who’ve bothered to take that first little baby step.”

Listen again to the full BBC Woman’s Hour interview here

David Cameron’s Page 3 advice for parents

Video

 

If you would like to sign the No More Page 3 petition, please visit Change.

In 2013, David Cameron has been asked a number of times about Page 3 of the Sun newspaper. He has either swerved the question (with Caroline Lucas) or he has given replies that don’t make too much sense (BBC / ITV). For more about this, see:

Dear Mr Cameron
The English are way behind politically in the Page 3 debate
Mr Cameron, it’s end violence against women day
Respect for women and girls and Caroline Lucas