The Advocacy Iceberg

The Advocacy Iceberg

May 8, 2013

100,000 flowers bloom

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Show Notes

The No More Page 3 petition on change.org is v close to securing 100,000 signatures

This is an impressive milestone. After all, that’s the threshold that triggers – or actually not necessarily – parliamentary debate for e-petitions on the directgov site.

Numbers of actions aren’t the same as meaningful results, but reaching this target does represent a significant sign of the campaign’s continuing momentum.

Along the way, the campaign has generated coverage and debate, has gained increasing support (such as from the Girl Guides and a growing number of Student Unions), and has started to chip away at the News International citadel, through targeting advertisers for example.

No More Page 3 is a classic example of how all you need to make some waves is a petition site, a Facebook page and a Twitter feed – plus an ability to use each of these platforms to magnify and cross-fertilise the others.

But that’s not really all you need; other notable things about the campaign that have made it so compelling are

1/ Unyielding energy.

The founder of the campaign, Lucy Holmes, gives a great description of the genesis of the campaign: a powerful moment mixing acute disappointment and desire for something better. That driving passion, that central idea, has been held onto in a campaign that has always been very positive and energetic. The campaign has always been genuine in its communications in a way that that more calibrated campaigns can lack

2/ An idea whose time has come.

Or actually, in this case, it’s an idea whose time came a long while back, and ideally should never have been needed in the first place. After 40 odd years, Page 3 had become one of those things that are clearly unacceptable but just somehow tolerated. So it’s been great there has been a campaign exposing the strangest mix of neanderthals and dinosaurs since Doug McClure stumbled on The Land That Time Forgot.

3/ Wearing the heaviness of the cause lightly.

The team running the campaign have wrestled – often overtly – with the desire to be always polite and respectful against the incredulity, the frustrations, and the nastiness. Page 3 is the tip of a continent-sized iceberg, one highly visible example of the pervasive sexism in the media and beyond. So a campaign about Page 3 both represents and exposes all kinds of other stuff, opening up wider debates, challenging broader frames of reference. The campaign has always does so in a very fleet-footed way, not ignoring the wider dimensions, but not getting bogged down in them either.

4/ Learning by doing.

These days, the prevailing orthodoxy is that campaigns should start with ‘theory of change’. In her presentation, available on video, that she recently gave at the e-Campaigning Forum, Lucy Holmes mentions that the No More Page 3 started more simply, with a list of people who might be able to help.

Obviously, theories of change have their merits. It’s good to take time to think about power dynamics, and to set out and test the assumptions around how change is going to happen, and develop more of a common understanding around these things.

But – notwithstanding all that – it was somehow a great relief to hear about a campaign whose starting point wasn’t a piece of jargon.

With these looser beginnings, the campaign has perhaps been more meandering than it might have been. There have been some cul de sacs. But that’s fine.

You might say – if you wanted to shovel the term in – that the theory of change is being shaped in the practice. Try things, see what works, move on. Campaigning as serendipity.

 

Page 3 is still hanging on. But there’s more to the campaign than that.

No More Page 3 has opened up space for greater scrutiny one corner of the big world of sexism and objectification. And this has its own value if people, and especially girls, come across the campaign, and the arguments, and as a result feel differently about the media and about themselves.

That’s about taking on invisible power. And that’s something for No More Page 3 to celebrate whether or not a billlionaire businessman weighed down with massive, unimaginable global power maintains his belief that it’s “elitist” to want to see the end of it.