The occasion? The 42nd anniversary of Page 3. The card was 6ft high, and while one side showed how women are portrayed in some of the tabloids – topless images from the Sun and the Star, as well as semi-naked, bent-double images from the Sport — the other showed how men are portrayed. The crucial difference could be summarised in the single word "clothes"; more broadly, men were pictured as active, respected professionals. The protesters wrote their feelings about Page 3 in the card. "A woman is worth more than her cup size," scrawled one. "Still stuck in the sexist, Savile-loving 70s, Dominic?" asked another.
That last message refers to Sun editor Dominic Mohan, who in February this year defended Page 3 as an "innocuous British institution" while giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry. The campaigners tried to enter the Sun offices to deliver the card to him directly, but security guards called the police – who turned up, and promptly signed the No More Page 3 petition, adding the message: "Women deserve respect from the media." The petition doesn't call for a ban, but asks Mohan to kindly remove the classic Page 3 image, and has gathered almost 60,000 signatures in the three months since it launched.
When the protesters put a photograph of the birthday card up on Facebook, it was taken down, without warning, because the explicit images apparently violate Facebook's terms; similar material was presented to the Leveson inquiry in January, when it was also censored. "If only it was that easy to get rid of sexism within our press," sighs Anna van Heeswijk, CEO of Object, which led the protest along with campaign groups Turn Your Back on Page Three and No More Page Three.
The Facebook and Leveson censorship should be surprising because, as Van Heeswijk says, "these are images that are contained within our national newspapers, completely available to all, mainstream, unrestricted, sold in newsagents and supermarkets."