Merton JCR has passed a motion to stop purchasing The Sun newspaper until its “Page 3” is removed. The motion noted that the page, which features a different topless woman each day, was both “archaic and inappropriate for a family newspaper”.
Proposer Hamish Forbes, the JCR Gender Equality officer, further stated in the proposal that “boobs are not news,” and argued that the page was “outdated”: “We are not condemning nude modelling, just not everyone is comfortable with this and we want to show that we are on the side of not agreeing with it and removing it”, he said.
The motion passed by 14 votes, with 27 voting in favour and 13 against. Two people abstained. Sophie Terrett, who seconded the motion, pointed out in a speech to the JCR that: “It’s 2014 – women’s breasts shouldn’t be in a mass newspaper. How would you feel if it was a penis? We wouldn’t invest in a soft porn mag, so why should we invest in this?”
The motion met with a degree of opposition, including members of the JCR executive such as Joe Hackett who stated: “I believe it sets a dangerous precedent for JCRs to ban a newspaper, especially the country’s most popular, because we find part of it to be distasteful or damaging to society.”
Another JCR member opposing the motion added: “should there be a post-structuralist committee deciding who is objectified now? Other newspapers objectify too. The Sun shouldn’t be identified as the one bad guy.”
The motion was amended from resolving to refuse to purchase The Sun “until bare breasts are removed” to “until page 3 in its current form is removed”, upon complaints that nudity itself was not the problem, but rather the “objectification of women” that the page was said to embody.
Hackett noted that: “the debate was healthy and civil, good points were made on both sides, and a wide range of views were heard – so although I’m disappointed that the motion passed, I’m pleased that we thought carefully about it before passing it.”
This move by the Merton JCR follows a precedent set by numerous other Oxford colleges, including Brasenose, St Hugh’s University and Teddy Hall and many universities throughout Britain. Page 3 was introduced by Rupert Murdoch in November 1970 as an attempt to reinvigorate the flagging tabloid.