Big Debate: Should The Sun’s Page 3 be abolished?

The latest call to ban Page Three by the Girl Guides' Association is the latest in a campaign to ban

The latest call to ban Page Three by the Girl Guides' Association is the latest in a campaign to banish bate boobs from Britian's best-selling daily newspaper. - Credit: Archant

Girlguiding UK is backing a campaign to abolish The Sun newspaper’s Page Three girl feature.

Former Page 3 model Flanagan.

Former Page 3 model Flanagan. - Credit: Archant

The campaign was started by Lucy Holmes during last summer’s Olympics, when she noticed the paper’s largest female picture was of a topless model, despite heptathlete Jessica Ennis having just won a gold medal. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, The Sun’s owner, has hinted he might end the feature which has been running since 1970.

Jenni McDermott, 20, is the Chair of the GirlGuiding delegation for the British Youth Council.

Jenni McDermott, 20, is the Chair of the GirlGuiding delegation for the British Youth Council. - Credit: Archant

So far, the No More Page 3 campaign has accrued some 90,000 signatures.

Here Maureen Flanagan, best known by her stage name Flanagan, who lays claim to being one of the first Page Three girls, sets out her case for keeping the feature, while Jenni McDermott, who is chair of the Girlguiding delegation to the British Youth Council, explains why they want to see it scrapped.

Flanagan, now 72, also starred in The Benny Hill Show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and several British sex comedy films. She is also famous for her association with the Kray twins, having been their mother’s hairdresser. Today she runs the Paragon Trust charity shop in Well Street, Hackney.

Maureen Flanagan, 72, one of the first Page Three girls

I had done catwalks and fashion shows for years when we were asked to go to The Sun newspaper to do some topless shots. It was a trial. The editor, Larry Lamb, didn’t know if it would be a success or if there would be an uproar.

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When the picture first appeared I thought, ‘oh my God’, but there was nothing wrong with the photo, it was beautiful.

The photographers we worked for never took advantage of us. It was never degrading, nobody made us do it, we were always in charge and they always showed us to our best abilities.

There have always been sexual assaults and a link has never been proven.

It never prevented me from doing anything.I became so well known, I got fashion jobs in six countries. In Amsterdam I was covered in diamonds wearing a flesh-coloured bikini, and in Germany I sat on a car on top of a mountain.

Even now, people still call me the Page Three girl and it still opens a lot of doors, and helped me when I started my charity work.

As soon as you went into a pub, everyone wanted to have their picture taken with you. People would donate money for good causes.

Remember when MP Clare Short hit out at Page Three girls? I thought, why don’t you look beyond the image, some girls went to college or university, you had a barrister’s daughter, nurses, shop girls and some were mothers. They all wanted to earn extra money to put towards buying a flat or car. It won’t stop – every day there will be another girl who would try to better herself. You have to be 16 to do it and then only with your parents’ permission.

Page Three girls are never in a degrading position. It doesn’t look like a porn magazine.

These campaigners would do better to use their energy for something positive or against something evil, than to attack a girl proud to appear on Page Three.

Jenni McDermott, 20, chair of the Girlguiding delegation to the British Youth Council

Girlguiding believes passionately in giving girls a voice. One of the best things about being a member is the chance to speak out – and to have a say about the kind of society we want to live in.

It was young women in Guiding who decided to hold a vote on whether Girlguiding should support the No More Page 3 campaign. And when we did, the results were overwhelming – 88 per cent said they wanted to back it.

Personally, I support the campaign because I want girls to see positive images of women.

We know girls start forming an opinion of themselves when they are very young. The Sun is a family newspaper and younger girls see Page Three all the time. I think it is very wrong that pictures that treat women as objects will shape their views of women’s roles – and their own place – in the world. I worry that it will damage their confidence and aspirations.

It has been amazing to be involved in a campaign like this – and to see how social media can spread your message so fast.

By 9am the next day, loads of people were tweeting and asking me about about the campaign – and I could engage with them.

It shows that you don’t have to be an impassioned social activist to be able to voice an opinion and be caught up in something larger. I know that a lot of our members will take the cause up.

I hope the letter we sent to The Sun will get a response and that the groundswell of opinion that there is about Page Three will make a difference.

Girls today have grown up to expect to be treated as equals – and they are incredulous that something like this still exists.

As long as Page 3 continues, the choice not to see women as objects is taken away from girls when they look at a leading daily newspaper. I would like to see a society where we treat girls and young women better than that.