Oh God No…Not the End of Page 3?
Posted on January 21, 2015
Apparently, The Sun went down on page three girls yesterday (good pun there, chortle, chortle) as women exposed their breasts for the last time in the comic that is, ironically, printed by a company with a grandiose title (News International) and is owned by the perennially lovable Rupert Murdoch.
I don’t really know much about The Sun, as it was effectively banned in our house when I was a boy, so the nearest I got to anything erotic via the British media was reading in The Telegraph about Tory Chairman, Cecil Parkinson, and his affair with Sara Keays, his secretary.
In the mid eighties, our family newspaper reverted to the newly founded Independent, with the occasional flirtation with The Guardian, which, if you were caught reading it, you faced the possibility of being dismissed from your job at the local nuclear weapons factory. I kid you not, during a security check to allow me to work “behind the wire” at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, I was asked whether I read The Guardian, which in the Cold War, was the equivalent of espionage.
I was also asked to give graphic details about my sex life which at 17, was at best, patchy, so I grossly exaggerated my exploits thinking it would impress my interrogator. It didn’t, in fact it would have cost me the job if I hadn’t embarked on a humiliating U-Turn featuring an admission that nearest I had got to sex was a hand down a bra and a fumbled attempt at a hand job in Wigmore Park.
I’m not sure whether it was the newspapers I was subjected to that made me the way I was, but I have to say I wasn’t really the type of lad who would stand on a scaffold shouting “Phwooooarrr look at the tits on that.” That’s not to say that I didn’t like breasts and bottoms as I most certainly did, I guess I just preferred to be more discreet about it than some of the other lads I knocked about with.
Page 3 was all the rage then, as there was no internet or easy access to soft porn, so women like Samantha Fox and Linda Lusardi were effectively superstars, with trash music merchants like Stock Aitken & Waterman queuing up to give them record deals, allowing them to get on Top of the Pops with other great pop stars of the time such as footballers, Hoddle and Waddle.
Diamond Lights by Hoddle and Waddle: Class Act
I never took to page 3 really, but some of my friends did, in fact I can vaguely remember one claiming that he got into a fight in a queue somewhere in Basingstoke where Samantha Fox was handing out signed photos. However, tragically, such was her popularity, she didn’t have enough to go around, so all Hell broke loose.
Getting in to a fight as result of trying to get a signed photo of a pair of breasts seems a bit bizarre and I guess The Sun was partly to blame for that sort of behaviour as without page 3, it might not have happened at all.
Sam Fox: 80’s Page 3 Girl and Pop Star
The other popular form of men’s entertainment in the 1980’s was the porn magazine, more commonly known as the wank mag or the jazz mag, and whilst I can get on a moral high horse with regards to page 3, the thrill of obtaining a top shelf publication was too much to resist.
Mayfair was my favourite, it seemed to have an air of class about it that reduced the guilt factor somewhat. I can remember my mum finding a stack of them on top of my wardrobe and over hearing her talking to a fellow councillor about how she could take solace in the fact that Mayfair was actually the thinking man’s toss mag. An ambitious assessment by mother, but one I was prepared to run with.
The fact she felt compelled to talk to another councillor about my penchant for Mayfair hardly filled me with joy however, and in a state of teenage paranoia, I started having visions of the conversation getting leaked and local newspaper headlines screaming “Councillors Son is Porn Mag Pervert.”
At the opposite end of the spectrum was Razzle, a seedy little number which I assumed was the next step up the porn ladder for readers of The Sun or The Daily Star. Razzle put me off sex completely. The models looked like they could kick your head in and if I had viewed the Readers Wives section more than once in my life, I would now be sat here childless whilst my partner, Jeremy, a Guardian film critic, made me a cup of herbal tea.
So, with regards to the development of pornographic fantasy, I have generally arrived at the conclusion that habitual viewing of page 3 women does encourage sexism and a dubious path forward. After I left the Civil Service (where the nearest I got to sexy talk was from middle aged women in corked lined tights discussing hysterectomies) I went to work in a sales office for a paint distributor in Basingstoke.
The men in the warehouse could best described as malnourished looking potential sex offenders and the place was decorated with page 3 girls and copies of Razzle were scattered all over the place. Every time a girl walked past the building she was treated with a volley of “tits out” abuse as everyone laughed along joyfully.
I walked in one day and two of the lads were talking openly about how they had spent the previous evening watching some German bloke having intercourse with a cockerel, an act that seems so demented that it is virtually beyond comprehension. Do people actually masturbate over that sort of thing?
So here are my conclusions.
The Sun = Page 3 = Shouting sexist abuse = Razzle = Readers Wives = Sexual fantasies about a cockerel.
The Telegraph/Independent = Mayfair = Like of elaborate erotic feature stories and suspenders = semi-normal attitude to sex but irrational love of suspenders.
The Guardian = Membership of anti-sexist campaigns = Marrying a woman who looks like Sponge Bob Square Pants in a dress.
That is a bit harsh on the Guardian, as because as I am a bit of a liberal/socialist, I read it a lot, especially on-line. However, there is line to be drawn between sexism and sexy as personally, I don’t see anything wrong with a good looking and curvaceous woman. Just like, I guess, a woman likes to see a good looking and well toned chap.
The difference is that you don’t get many women, or in fact none in my lifetime, shouting “Oi mate, get your bollocks out!” However, it has to remembered that the vast majority of men don’t do that either, as essentially they have evolved in to individuals who offer more subtle compliments, if indeed, any at all.
If we lived in a world where women are encouraged to look like Clare Short or Nora Batty, it would be a pretty miserable existence. That’s not sexist in my opinion, it just a plain fact, though I guess it would keep the population down.
Right, where’s that cockerel?