The ‘Page 3′ debate has kicked off again. For those unaware of the proclivities of the UK tabloid pres. Page 3 is a weekday feature in the Sun newspaper consisting of a photograph of topless woman accompanied by a short caption allegedly about her. In the 1980s feminist politician Clare Short attempted to ban this ‘British institution’. Now there’s a new petition calling for the Sun to voluntarily pull the feature. Page 3 has been a route into celebrity for a small number of women from Sam Fox onwards (and you have to love the irony of her later coming out as lesbian) but what has this to do with young people’s aspirations? I explore that in this post but first I need to say something about my own changing position on Page 3.
This summer, the media were in a constant state of euphoria over Team GB’s success. In the midst of such celebrations, journalists and social commentators fixated on the ‘real’ role models that the Olympics appeared to offer girls and young women. Victoria Pendleton, Jessica Enis and Laura Trott, among others, were held up as ‘authentic’ ‘empowering’ and ‘inspiring’ figures for young female audiences. For example, Girlguiding UK capitalized on the global media spotlight on the Olympic sportswomen’s success to launch their ‘Real Role Models’ campaign. These Olympic heroines have been presented as positive alternatives to the seemingly vacuous Reality TV stars, glamour models and WAG wannabees dominating popular culture.
This summer young people aged 16 across England and Wales had confidence in their examination results undermined by being given different grades than would have been awarded in January for the same work. Now UK Education Minister Michael Gove can position himself as the restorer of faith in our academic system by announcing an end to modular assessments and multiple exam boards and their replacement from 2017 with new single end of course examinations and just one government-endorsed exam board.