Rupert Murdoch has treated his 550,000-plus Twitter followers to his views on The Sun’s famous page 3.
In case you missed it, last week The Sun’s sister paper, The Times announced that the topless feature, which has been causing controversy since its emergence in the late 1960s, would finally be scrapped. The next day however, after a huge amount of media attention had been focused on the long-overdue removal of the page 3 girls, the Sun backflipped and announced the topless feature would continue. Naturally, this caused another bout of media attention to be focused on the paper and its anachronistic page 3 spread.
In the midst of widespread discussion about what was either an insensitive publicity stunt or a clumsy mistake, Murdoch tweeted this: “Much fuss and publicity in UK as horrible elites yak on about Page 3. Worry not, The Sun will always have great looking women – and men!”
Obviously it is rather odd for Rupert Murdoch to criticise “horrible elites” in the media for making a “fuss” given that if we were to point to one person who personifies the media elite, this man would be it. But unfortunately Murdoch’s lack of self-awareness is not the biggest issue in his comment.
His observation makes it very clear that Murdoch does not understand a single one of the issues that have been raised about the page 3 spread. It merely demonstrates that Murdoch is very comfortable with the type of female objectification the page 3 spread is criticised for.
Not only is Rupert Murdoch not ashamed of his long history of objectifying women to sell newspapers, he is so pleased about it that he has decided to gloat about it on social media.
While other news outlets – Bloomberg, for instance – are focusing on filling their news with women who are great journalists, women who are experts in their field, women who are great producers and broadcasters and editors, all Murdoch is concerned about is making sure his papers feature women who are “great looking”.
He confirms – brags, even – that his papers are in the business of valuing women exclusively based on how they look or what they wear (or don’t wear).
His gleeful “and men!” comment at the end of the tweet is also disturbing. It’s unclear whether this is a joke or whether Murdoch is actually claiming that his newspapers’ objectification of models is gender-blind. I almost hope it is the former, because any claim that the Sun objectifies men the way is does women is so absurd it is barely worth addressing. Even if there are “great looking” men featured in the Sun, they are certainly not semi-naked and occupying an entire dedicated two-page spread. And they haven’t occupied this position, daily, for half a century.
The majority of men involved in the Murdoch press are not topless and sexualised on the front page, but in those roles I mentioned earlier – journalists, experts, broadcasters, producers and editors.
In the Sun’s 50-year history, it has only ever appointed one female editor. When you think about the number of women the paper had splashed topless on page three in those 50 years, editor Rebekah Wade is severely outnumbered.
So despite Murdoch imploring us to worry not about the great looking women that will sadly continue to feature in his newspapers, we remain worried. Very worried.