For more than 40 years, readers of Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloids in the UK and Ireland have been used to seeing naked breasts when they turn to Page 3 of their daily tabloid, The Sun and The Irish Sun.
But times are changing. This week The Irish Sun has scrapped nudity: readers will still be greeted by glamourous models when they open their newspaper, but their breasts are now covered, either by clothes or by strategically placed arms or other props.
Campaigners who for years have denounced the naked Page 3 as demeaning to women may not be celebrating a total victory, but they can applaud a step in the right direction.
The Irish Sun’s editor, Paul Clarkson, explained the reason behind the move towards modesty: “Page 3 is a hugely popular pillar of the Sun in the UK and part of a package of great journalism which engages, entertains and informs in equal measure. In the Irish Sun we strive to share the qualities that make the newspaper great in print and digital, but we also strive to cater for our own readers’ needs and reflect the cultural differences in Ireland.”
According to The Irish Times, its tabloid counterpart has received several phone calls from readers wanting to know about the change, but only one genuine complaint.
The covering up of Page 3 girls in Ireland provides a boost to a growing number of campaigners in the United Kingdom who want editors of The Sun, Britain’s biggest selling newspaper, to follow their Irish colleagues’ example.
More than 110,000 people have signed an online petition asking The Sun’s editor David Dinsmore to “drop the bare boobs”, while 138 Members of Parliament (around a fifth of all the UK’s MPs) have written a letter demanding the same, claiming Page 3 “reduces this country to one that upholds 1970s sexist values”.
However, Dinsmore has recently insisted that models on Page 3 will remain topless as it is “a good way of selling newspapers.”
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