David Dinsmore's Refreshing Defense of Page 3 Girls   

What Women Really Think
June 26 2013 4:25 PM

David Dinsmore's Refreshing Defense of Page 3 Girls    

168758163
Watch out for page 3!

Photo by FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

There are many reasons I like living in the United States, but among them is that, unlike the U.K., our national print newspapers don't have a long-established tradition of printing pictures of topless ladies on the third page of each morning's edition. I'd never buy a paper that features Page 3 girls, as they're known in England, and I'd be jarred to see them start appearing in either papers of record like the New York Times, or even rags like the New York Post.

All of that said, there's something refreshing about the frankness of David Dinsmore, the newly-installed editor of The Sun, one of the most notorious publisher of Page 3 pics. When asked about the recent uproar about the feature, Dinsmore was bluntly commercial about the reason his paper prints images of topless women. "We did a survey last year and found that two thirds of our readers wanted to keep Page 3," he told BBC Radio 5. "What you find is people who are against Page 3 have never read the Sun and would never read the Sun."

Advertisement

I think it's a bit depressing that two-thirds of the Sun's readers are buying the paper to look at naked ladies. But I'm at least relieved to hear Dinsmore argue that this is a business decision, rather than trying to insist that he's making some sort of third-wave feminist statement by preserving a space for women who want to get their kit off in public. He's not pretending that he's doing anyone a favor beside News Corporation, which owns The Sun through its newspaper division. Rather, he's acknowledging something that's true: that Page 3 might be crass, but that there is a market for it, and as long as that market exists, and the third of his readers who don't care about the feature aren't turned off by it, Dinsmore will happily keep running it.

It's not pretty, but at least it's not a disingenous dodge, like Hugh Hefner's insistence that he's contributing to the sexual liberation of American. And honesty like Dinsmore's can help us confront a less comfortable problem. Getting rid of Page 3 Girls might create a less hostile environment in Britain's newspapers. But stopping publication of that feature won't get rid of the market for images of topless, compliant women. It's easy to shut down a business, but it's much harder to change an entire culture.

Alyssa Rosenberg writes about culture and television for Slate’s “XX Factor” blog. She also contributes to ThinkProgress and theatlantic.com.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 23 2014 6:00 AM Naked and Afraid Prudie offers advice on whether a young boy should sleep in the same room with his nude grandfather.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Books
Sept. 23 2014 7:14 AM Fighting the Sophomore Slump, Five Novels at a Time Announcing the Slate/Whiting Second Novel List.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 7:00 AM I Stand with Emma Watson
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.