#WISPchat: Page 3 v Breast Cancer – where do you stand?

#WISPchat: Page 3 v Breast Cancer – where do you stand?

Right, everyone. After the outcry following a certain national newspaper’s use of a Page 3 girl to raise awareness of breast cancer, we’ve decided to bring the debate to #WISPchat. Join in tomorrow (Friday) on Twitter at 2pm GMT (remember to use the hashtag!).

No More Page 3 is the campaign group started by Lucy Holmes to put a stop to The Sun’s famous third page, which features a topless (often teenage) glamour model. They’ve been making waves in their fight against what they describe as a sexist media tradition for a while now… so perhaps we should not be surprised by The Sun’s latest move.

Yes, that’s right – it’s Page 3 versus breast cancer. The newspaper is pitting its infamous third page against none other than the cancer that kills over 10,000 UK women a year. The publication has teamed up with breast cancer charity Coppafeel, founded by Kris Hallenga – who was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer at the unusually young age of 23. From now on, says The Sun, Tuesdays are Check ‘Em Tuesdays – days when women should check their breasts for lumps.

It’s a universally acknowledged fact that no one likes breast cancer. Who could, considering it kills 7% of all cancer sufferers and robs thousands of women from their families every year?

That’s exactly what’s made so many people so angry – people who think The Sun’s on a manipulative, self-serving campaign, by implying that those who are against breast cancer (so thats, um, everyone) must, by proxy, be on the side of Page 3.

In The Independent, Felicity Morse argued: ‘Taking people’s traumatic experiences of cancer and twisting them to foster support for a sexist, outdated institution is low, even by tabloid standards.’ Over in The Telegraph, Emma Barnett pointed out that Page 3 is for men, and that’s why the campaign is fundamentally flawed: ‘Page 3 is all about boobs for male titillation. You simply can’t arouse women into checking their breasts for cancer.’ 

Meanwhile, in the New Statesman, Sarah Ditum was thinking of cancer survivors: 'I wonder how much thought Sun editor David Dinsmore gave to those women’s feelings when he was signing off the front page. Did he realise that the Sun’s breast fixation might be an insult to these survivors?...Of course not: this is a move of strictest self-interest from the Sun.'

Breast cancer charities have also rallied against the six-month campaign, with Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Care condemning the campaign’s insensitivity, and the face it uses sexual titillation to raise awareness of a disease whose reality is a million miles from Page 3 ‘glamour’. It would certainly be a more powerful campaign if the model was middle-aged (like most breast cancer sufferers) and had mastectomy scars.

But not everyone’s against it. Gaby Hinsliff 'applauds' the campaign via the Guardian. Although she hates Page 3, ‘an awful lot of women will be checking themselves in the shower tonight.’

And remember, it’s not the first time attractive imagery of women has been used to raise awareness. Remember this campaign, when celebrities including Peaches Geldof stripped off to encourage people to donate unwanted clothes to be sold in aid of Cancer Research?

So where do you stand? Is Check ‘Em Tuesday a shameful, self-serving, sexist campaign, aimed primarily as a defence for an out-dated, demeaning editorial feature? Or is anything that gets women more aware of checking their breasts good – even if it’s selfishly motivated?

Tell us what you think, tomorrow 2pm GMT on Twitter, using the #WISPchat hashtag.


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