Editorial Comment (and ‘Check ’em Tuesday’)

You will probably have guessed (due to the fact that I’m quicker in linking stories from their pages, that I’m a reader (digitally) of UK newspapers The Independent and The Guardian.

I’d also read The Times if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s onlly available via subscription and it’s owned by News International Corporation, headed by Rupert Murdoch. I don’t like News International, or Murdoch, and I certainly wouldn’t have his Sky TV in our house (or, indeed, watch the freely available Sky News channel either). For North American readers, I should explain that Sky TV is dumb, with self-regarding dumb presenters. Imagine a marginally brighter Fox News (another Murdoch owned venture) and you’re almost there.

So I’ve picked this story up from the pages of The Independent, although it obviously originates in another News International paper, the UK tabloid The Sun.

And my antipathy towards Murdoch, News International and his stable of media outlets stems from their (in the main, The Times might just be the exception) focus on dim-witted ‘celebrity’, the trivialisation or sensationalising of news, or its role as self-appointed moral guardian of the British people.

One of the more hideous elements of The Sun has been its ‘Page Three girls’, a lame excuse to print photographs of topless models. In a sense, exposed breasts should be a good thing, as photos should have a tendency to normalise breasts and lead to gender equality. Unfortunately, while using these type of photos, The Sun continues to indulge in smutty, end of the pier, double-entendre and innuendo that means breasts remain sexualised. Of course, there are much greater hideous elements to the Sun’s reporting of proper news than bare breasted punnery, such as their headline during the 1982 Falklands War when they celebrated the sinking of Argentine battleship General Belgrano with the word ‘Gotcha!’, or their headlong rush to blame the fans of Liverpool Football Club (an English soccer team) for a stadium disaster in 1989 when 96 Liverpool fans died, coverage that resulted in The Sun not being stocked, by newsagents in Liverpool, ever since.

It’s not for me to take a hardline feminist attitude here and decry the girls themselves. Many might have origins in poverty (although ‘poverty’ in Britain is relative, when seen from the perspective of, say, Asian or African poverty) and the girls see an opportunity to become ‘celebrities’ themselves, or merely a little richer, by using the ‘assets’ they’ve been blessed with. If they’re willingly participating and are happy with the cash, it’s not for me (or any hardline feminist group) to criticise. An organisation called No More Page Three has also published a list of British Members of Parliament who support their ’cause’. Quite frankly, I would have imagined MPs should be concerning themselves with, for example, Putin’s brinkmanship as opposed to whatever young women choose to do with their bodies, in terms of earnings, in a free democracy than obsessing on breast tissue.

None of the girls have been forced into posing. They make money from it. And, while I don’t like News International, I assume they see money being made in it, which is the purpose of their existence in a capitalist democracy. No one loses, particularly, other than the fact that their schoolboy punnery accompanying the photos keeps the idea of sexualised breasts going.

For me -a personal opinion- the exposure of breasts is fine, if they aren’t being treated as something to ogle over on a daily basis. Men get their nipples out, why not women? And, realistically, people, when I do go to a topless or naturist beach, there are many, many overweight men with breasts larger than mine being exposed on the beach. There are larger breasts than mine being exposed on a hot day on a building site on a daily basis. What is it that makes female nipples so outrageous they have to be covered at all times? And while it seems that the photos of page 3 girls are taken in studios, I believe The Sun would be doing everyone a service by taking photos in everyday surroundings, where women might feel empowered towards topfree equality on their own terms.

I would like to add that my comments, above, are in no way meant to denigrate those bloggers who choose to remain ‘boob free’, as it were. They will have chosen their target audience, just as we have, and may have opted not to display bare boobs if they’re working towards a ‘PG’ target audience. Again, they’ve made their choise, and it’s not for me or anyone else to challenge or criticise their editorial policy.

But let’s get back to The Sun and its Check ‘Em Tuesday ‘campaign’.carousel-check-em

Because of its history, there will inevitably be a certain level -not unjustified- of cynicism. I share that sense of cynicism.

However, despite my antipathy to the ‘newspaper’, breast cancer can be a killer. It can also be very, very survivable. The key is early detection. So if their campaign saves one life, it is surely worth it. If, by focussing on the need to regularly check for lumps, bumps and anything that should not be there on a weekly (i.e. Tuesday) basis, then it’s all good. If it’s just a cynical, calculated excuse to continue to print photos of bare-breasted beauties in the face of increasing criticism of their topless policy, shame on them. A view already taken by political scrapbook and numerous twitter users.

I’m particularly interested in the topic because I’ve had family members (by marriage) face the disease. And when I started out in the blogging world, on Emmanuelle’s blog, another staff member, Marlene, was going through the process of surviving it following a mastectomy.

Marlene, on her return to SL following a period of RL convalesence, decided she would quit the blogging world (and subsequently SL) to work for a breast cancer charity. Having survived, she felt her role in life had become one of ensuring others were made aware of the symptoms, and received education on what to look for, and what to do if a woman did discover some changes in her breasts. (Incidentally, men can also develop breast cancer). Incidentally, I recall Marlene saying that she would return to SL if a skin designer ever developed a ‘post mastectomy’ skin, i.e. with one breast removed, on the basis that if she could run around SL with that particular look, and courageously demonstrate, even in the virtual world, that the loss of a breast did not reduce a woman’s femininity, she would return to the nude beaches of SL just as a demonstration that breast cancer is survivable, and to ‘normalise’ a post-mastectomy appearance for fellow avatars. Sadly, I’m not aware that any skin designers have even tackled the challenge, although I can’t say whether it’s because they view it as hideous, uncommercial or simply not achievable due to the limitations of computer design (although a wholly ‘mesh’ skin would, I imagine, alter that possibility).


In other news, a period of being exceptionally busy in RL comes to an end soon, and I’ve actually got a period from the end of next week where I’m not in work either at all, or doing some of those annual, corporate ‘refresher’ courses where I’m getting paid for listening to talks, or reading pamphlets about stuff I already know. So I’m fully expectant of a rich period of SLN related activity from this weekend onwards, so keep an eagle-eye out for that.



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