100,000 flowers bloom

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.

5 Comments

  1. Jess Day (@day_jess) says:

    I think the final one point about taking on invisible power is really important. NoMorePage3 has already scored a real success, which is to change the terms of the debate. Not far enough, but we have at least moved on from the point where Clare Short could be silenced so shamefully. While a ‘power analysis’ would probably show that the only way the Sun will back down is if a core readership acknowledges that P3 is a bit embarrassing (‘He’s not worth it mate, come and have another pint.’) the fact that women no longer feel they have to shrug and tolerate it is significant progress.

  2. Charlie Free says:

    Great article – thank you. I visit the No More Page 3 online platforms daily, as a source of positivity, inspiration and news that suits my needs as a woman in the 21st century. I agree fully with your description of the ‘unyielding energy’ of this campaign – and for me, that is because it is rooted in truth without any hidden agenda. I also love the fact that as much as they know what they are against (Page 3 and all it represents), they also know what they are for (representations of diverse women, from all walks of life, excelling in their fields and demonstrating their creativity).

  3. Andrew Saunders says:

    I support No More Page 3 because frankly page 3 is pornographic and should not be sold in a mainstream newspaper. It should be confined to top shelf sealed publications for over 18s only! The way it is distributed means these offensive images are everywhere and everyone is exposed to them whether they like it or not (including children). They are in the cafe, on the bus, on the train, at work everywhere. Also page 3 encourages men to see women as objects and can in some cases encourage sexual abuse!!!

  4. Rhonda Schlangen says:

    Thanks for another terrific post about campaigning and learning from such efforts. I love the point about wearing the heaviness of the cause lightly. I heard about the campaign in the US via a BBC World Service interview with a former Page 3 model and Lucy Holmes. Holmes was positive, bright and smart and nimble. So the presence of effective spokespeople–not just celebs–seems to be working in this case rather well.

  5. Mark Luetchford says:

    Good to see this campaign gathering momentum – being older think we also need to give credit to others who tackled this (as I’ve heard Lucy Holmes do) I can remember Clare Short being subjected to horrible abuse for daring to question the Sun’s right to put images that debase and objectify into the mainstream – so something about it being an idea whose time has come but doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t take up issues before hand if they are just, just be prepared to get it in the neck however right you are. Hat wearing Quakers being a case in point although I notice they have felt able to take off said hats!

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