Why I don’t agree with No More Page 3

By Beth Redmond

The No More Page 3 campaign only explores the ideas of objectification and misogyny enough for the organisers to convince themselves they are actually changing something. There are elements of it I can get on board with, and it has been beneficial to the wider feminist community, especially in student unions, as a catalyst for discussion and discovering what we actually mean when using terms like objectification.
But the amount of liberal this campaign contains is reflected in how many times boobs are mentioned in its main petition: A LOT. Boobs are not the issue here, we shouldn’t be afraid of young children seeing “bare breasts” either in a newspaper or in everyday life. Young girls shouldn’t grow up feeling embarrassed about their own bodies because the only other pair of tits they’ve been allowed to see was in a biology textbook, and parents shouldn’t feel awkward about breast-feeding in public.
Let’s also remember that the page 3 models themselves are not responsible for their own objectification. The campaign is backed by the Evangelical Alliance, who, on their website, do exactly what No More Page 3 claim to protest against and talk about the “girls” as though they are objects, an irrelevance or something society should be ashamed of. The moralistic view of women involved in sex-work and glamour modelling being “smutty” is dangerous, and skews the politics of the campaign as a whole.
And the worst part is, Page 3 is not even the most sexist part of The Sun; the large majority of it is misogynistic bile. It includes paparazzi stealing photographs of non-consenting women and shaming their bodies for being too fat, too skinny, looking too old or having too much surgery to make themselves look young. If we were to get rid of page 3 on the grounds that is it sexist then we should also get rid of all those women’s magazines which mock us for… literally everything. The models on Page 3 are consenting and not being shamed for the way they look.
Getting rid of Page 3 will not eradicate the objectification of women, I’m not entirely sure it will do anything at all. And by identifying Page 3 as the only thing wrong with The Sun, the campaign is seemingly giving a thumbs up to the rest of the paper which is by and large shit.

This article is taken from one of the daily bulletins that was handed out at NUS national conference in Liverpool 8-10 April 2014.

INVITATION to a National Meeting on Free Education, 15 June

This week NUS Conference voted against the NUS leadership to support free education. This is a significant victory – but on its own it means nothing. We need to use this opportunity to organise an offensive in the struggle for free education. [Read more...]

Sign this statement: Build the student fightback

ncafcdemoThis statement is being launched to begin building momentum for a serious campaign of student struggle over the next year.

If you want to add your, your SU’s or your organisation’s name, please email [email protected]
[Read more...]

Emergency motions to NUS conference

NCAFC supporters have submitted emergency motions to NUS conference 2014 on two issues – the threat of higher fees and Ukraine. [Read more...]

Birmingham SU Trustee Board attacks democracy

Hard on the heels of KCLSU Trustee Board refusing to carry out a general meetings’s decision on Palestine, at Birmingham Uni the Guild of Students Trustee Board has acted even more outrageously in attacking student democracy. The following is a statement from Defend Education activists at Birmingham Guild of Students. [Read more...]

NCAFC events at NUS conference 2014

freeeducationfiestaThe National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts will be holding/taking part in a number of events at NUS conference 2014, which takes place in Liverpool Tuesday 8-Thursday 10 April. [Read more...]

Statement on NCAFC’s endorsement of Megan Dunn for NUS Vice President Higher Education

Having previously voted to endorse Megan (current President at the University of Aberdeen) for NUS Vice President (Higher Education), NCAFC now has serious concerns about Megan’s nomination, and therefore apparent support of, NUS Block of 15 candidate Poppy Wilkinson, President of University of Birmingham Guild of Students. [Read more...]

NCAFC at NUS conference 2014: what we’re doing

nuslogoThe National Union of Students annual conference takes place 8-10 April, in Liverpool. The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts will be taking part and intervening in a number of ways, as a central part of building left opposition to the NUS leadership. [Read more...]

Current struggles: Focus E15 Mothers

mothersHannah Webb, University College London

A group of 29 young mothers living in the Focus E15 hostel in Newham, East London, are fighting a campaign both against evic­tion, and to be rehoused in decent and se­cure social housing in London.

Focus E15 hostel is temporary accom­modation for mothers of babies up to 6 months old – though some have been there as long as 5 years – which is in­fested with mice and rats and mould.

Newham Council, incidentally a council which prioritises ex-service people over single mothers in housing waiting lists, has been trying to move the women out of London in order to save money, to Hast­ings or Birmingham – away from their families, support network, and where they’ve lived all their lives. Newham coun­cil is mounting a clear attack on working class women, but they are fighting back. Recently the mothers held a children’s par­ty (read: occupation) in the East Thames Housing Association show flat, the same organisation that runs their hostel across the road, to demonstrate that everyone de­serves to live somewhere clean and with space for children to play. The private rent­ed sector is a place that offers security to no one – dodgy landlords often have little incentive to improve conditions, and peo­ple can be forced to move every 6 months. Under capitalism it is always the most mar­ginalised who will be attacked the most, and the fight for decent and secure housing is a fight not just for young working class mothers, but for everyone.

 

This article is taken from the bulletin being circulated by NCAFC Women at NUS Women’s conference, March 2014. (NCAFC-Women-Bulletin)

The anti-feminist victimisation of Birmingham students

birm

An interview with Deborah Hermanns, University of Birmingham

 

Leftwing students at the University of Bir­mingham have faced extreme victimisation from university management with two stu­dents having been suspended for over six weeks. This victimisation has been – dis­gracefully – legitimised by their own Guild officers.

What’s happened?

I’m involved in a group called Defend Edu­cation, which campaigns for workers’ rights and free education on campus. The Univer­sity of Birmingham has been incredibly re­pressive of our group in the past 4 years, dishing out dozens of disciplinaries.

This year the University has served two in­junctions, taken two students to court with the threat for them to have to pay 25k in le­gal fees, brought dozens of bailiffs and po­lice onto campus to evict occupations and put six students through disciplinaries.

However, after a national demo on the 29th of January taking place on Birming­ham campus, the University have stepped up their attack massively. All but one of us were arrested because we refused to give our names: six Birmingham students and seven students from elsewhere. We were kettled with a group of 150 students for four hours. The police misgendered a trans student, did not allow ambulances on to campus, and did not permit access to food or toilets.

Once we got arrested we were told we were suspects of criminal damage and assault because of not giving our names. We were held for 30 hours. All but 3 were released without charge. Those of us who were released were given draconian bail conditions, including having to sleep and live at the houses of the addresses we gave, not associating with other arrestees, not congregating in groups of 10 or more people, and not going on any FE or HE campus in the UK.

Out of the six Birmingham students who were arrested, five were suspended and told that there was no legal right to ap­peal. Our tutors and lecturers were told there would be grounds for dismissal if they even got in contact with us. The Uni­versity spread a lot of misinformation and the VC sent an email to every student de­scribing us as hooligans.

How did the Guild (student union) react?

Guild published a statement con­demning the protest while students (including myself) were still being held in a kettle and unlawfully arrested. I strongly believe, especially in the con­text of the Sussex suspensions, that it was this statement that put the univer­sity management in the position where they felt able to suspend us in the way they did.Two days later, at the same time as one Birmingham student was in court, fac­ing being held in prison for months, Poppy Wilkinson, the Guild President, published a blog on her presidential Facebook profile. In the statement Pop­py not only positioned herself with the University and against the protesting students, not condemning any of the actions of the police or University, she also claimed to be speaking in the in­terest of the majority of students.

Even if that had been the case, the popu­lar student opinion had been influenced by the spreading of wrong information – as Poppy knows – and in my opinion it would have been the duty of the Guild to provide students with the exact ac­counts of what actually happened.

More importantly though, both statements have been used against us by the Univer­sity. For example, they sent letters to MPs convincing them not to sign the Early Day Motion against the suspensions, saying the Guild of Students doesn’t even support them. It has taken a lot of pressure by the sus­pended students and a mandate in Guild Council, but the Guild has now finally pub­lished a statement condemning the suspen­sions, as whole 5 weeks later. However, I believe that there is much more that the Guild could be doing now to get the two students reinstated and Poppy should be at the forefront of that fight.

How can I help?

It’s always important to question people in positions of power. Birmingham Guild of Students have, on the whole, not stood up for the suspended students, nor the larg­er group of students who were kettled for hours in the cold and the rain and seriously mistreated. Rather than condemning police violence, the fact that there was graffiti was condemned. After almost two months, two students are still suspended, one of whom was the Guild Women’s Officer 2011/12, and it should be the main priority of the guild to defend their members and get them reinstated.

If you want to help out, University Col­lege London Union, Edinburgh University Student Association and Royal Holloway SU have sent letters or passed motions supporting the suspended students, and more would be helpful. There will also be a demonstration against the suspensions on Wednesday 26th March at 1pm on Bir­mingham University campus, and it’d be great to see lots of people there taking a stand against the victimisation of student activists.

Feminists should protest the victimisation of students by universities and police, and support victimised students, some of whom are women. This is not a matter of left or right, but an attack on all of our rights and it is a very worrying trend which has also happened in Sussex, and will certainly not stop in Birmingham.

 

This interview is taken from the bulletin being circulated by NCAFC Women at NUS Women’s conference, March 2014. (NCAFC-Women-Bulletin)