The Sun: Will it drop Page Three in the UK?

The Irish edition of The Sun has decided not to show pictures of topless women on its Page Three.

The Irish edition of The Sun has decided not to show pictures of topless women on its Page Three. It has differentiated itself from its UK counterpart stating “cultural differences” between the two publications. Does this point towards a culture that’s starting to question the need for topless women in the media?

The Sun is a tabloid renowned for featuring topless women in provocative poses on Page Three, a feature that celebrated its 40th anniversary in November 2010. Now, however, the Irish edition has contradicted one of the defining features of the publication by deciding not to show bare breasts.

An innocuous British institution

Dominic Mohan, the previous editor of The Sun UK, supported having Page Three in the newspaper, referring to it during an interview at the Leveson inquiry as an “innocuous British institution.”

The editor of the Irish Sun, Paul Clarkson, called it a “hugely popular pillar in The Sun UK” in an article on the Irish Times website but stated that it was “cultural differences in Ireland” that prompted the covering of female breasts in his edition.

Drop the bare boobs

Bare breasts in The Sun have become an issue that is gaining momentum as people increasingly question why it is necessary. No More Page Three is one such high profile campaign that aims to eradicate Page Three. Created by Lucy Holmes, it directly targets the new editor of The Sun UK, David Dinsmore, asking him to “drop the bare boobs from The Sun newspaper.”

It began with Holmes reading a copy of the newspaper during the Olympics, and pondering why the biggest picture of a female in the publication was a Page Three model, despite Jessica Ennis winning a gold medal. Since then, many women have joined the campaign, questioning how Page Three affects their relationships to their own bodies, their argument being that it is being represented as a sexual object.

To date, the petition, hosted on, has gathered 113,640 signatures. In addition, some MPs have been extremely vocal in the condemnation of the feature, with the campaign’s website featuring a letter signed by a whole host of MPs from various political parties. Indeed, Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, wore a No More Page Three t-shirt during a House of Commons debate on media sexism.

The lads mags debate

However, it isn’t just campaign groups who are arguing against the presence of bare breasts in media publications. The Co-operative Retail Trading Group is asking publishers of so-called ‘lad’s mags’ to place them in “sealed modesty bags” under threat of their withdrawal from sale. They have also enforced black screens to cover the magazine’s images until the publishers decide to seal their publications in such bags.

The company cites “growing concerns by its members, customers and colleagues” as to such images being readily available and displayed to children.

The sexualisation of society

What this shows is that there is increasing concern over the sexualisation of society. Images of naked women being available for young children to see is leading some to believe that they are the cause for misogynistic attitudes as well as sexual crimes.

Whilst the general perception is that men and women are relatively equal, campaigns such as the Everyday Sexism project aims at complicating this utopian image and exposing sexism in society. It features testimonies and accounts from women who have experienced misogyny, sexual abuse and intimidation as a means of making people more aware of damaging attitudes towards women.

Increasingly, then, The Sun’s Page Three is being scrutinised by its readers and the general public. Some are no longer ignoring or just accepting it and instead they are challenging its relevancy and position within the publication. With the Irish edition covering its models up, it has sparked more interest in the debate. The UK version of The Sun retains its topless models but simultaneously, the argument against the feature is growing in impetus.

What do you think? Will Page Three be eventually dropped by the UK edition of The Sun? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.