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The Sun covers them up, ending topless tradition

After adopting a 'blood and breasts' formula that made Rupert Murdoch’s ‘The Sun’, the largest selling British newspaper for over 44 years, the infamous Page 3 will no longer portray topless young women from Friday in a move hailed by campaigners and MPs.

world Updated: Jan 21, 2015 00:42 IST
Murdoch-owned-The-Sun-tabloid-is-UK-s-best-selling-newspaper
Murdoch-owned-The-Sun-tabloid-is-UK-s-best-selling-newspaper

After adopting a “blood and breasts” formula that made Rupert Murdoch’s ‘The Sun’, the largest selling British newspaper for over 44 years, the infamous Page 3 will no longer portray topless young women from Friday in a move hailed by campaigners and MPs.

Topless Page 3 models were introduced in 1970, soon after Murdoch acquired the title. The decision to drop the photos was reportedly made in New York, where Murdoch is based, but will be reviewed if sales drop as a result.

The Sun’s Page 3 has been the focus of much academic discourse, including doctoral theses, and campaigns that saw the images as objectifying and commodifying women for commercial purposes. The campaign won thousands of supporters over the years.

‘The Times’, which is also owned by Murdoch, reported on Tuesday that the Friday edition will be the last that would ‘carry an image of a glamour model with bare breasts on that page’.

However, the images would continue on the tabloid’s online edition.

A spokeswoman for the campaign group No More Page 3 said, “This could be truly historic news and a great day for people power,” adding that it “could be a huge step for challenging media sexism”.

There have been enough hints from Murdoch in recent months that the topless images would be dropped. The Sun’s Ireland edition dropped them in August 2013, while Murdoch tweeted in September that the images were now “old-fashioned”.

Labour MP Stella Creasy said, “It wasn’t about Page 3 being offensive but about the impact on our society of judging men and women by different standards, and basically saying that we didn’t need boobs with our breakfast tables”.

She added, “The objectification of women in this way was basically saying to all of us what matters frankly were our breasts not our brains.”

More than 30 universities had voted to stop selling The Sun on their campuses until it stopped publishing topless images.

As some media experts said dropping the topless images was an effort to re-invent the tabloid after the phone-hacking controversy, some former topless models defended the feature, saying they enjoyed posing for them.

The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment, since David Cameron, it said, believed that it was up to newspapers to decide what they publish.

His spokesman said, “He thinks what newspapers publish is a matter for newspapers. His view is that editorial decisions are for editors.”

However, education secretary Nicky Morgan, who is also women and equalities minister, said the move was “long overdue”, and added that it was a “small but significant step towards improving media portrayal of women and girls.”