I guess it was visible most recently by the ongoing Assange case where, as everyone came out with an opinion, at least intelligent, considered, thoughtfully written pieces counteracted the odd, the extreme and the ignorant.
But this article below turned up in my daily regional (and usually very sensible) newspaper the Newcastle Journal. This link is to the writer's blog but was reproduced word for word in his column (of 'wit and wisdom') in the Journal. And I found it neither witty nor wise but disappointing and disturbing.
In focusing this particular piece on rape he describes a scenario that could come straight out of an episode of Mad Men (era late ‘50s). "She made her reluctance clear. I carried on". This is not a confession that our columnist appears ashamed of nor seems to want to apologise for - but rather he is relieved not to have got into trouble for it. Mr Hann then goes on to ridicule the fact that no means no "Of course the consequences for human reproduction will be simply disastrous."
At around the same time I came across something via Twitter - another article that was being RT'd by other (rather more respectable) journalists who had found it unbelievable too.
In his interview with classical violinist Nicola Benedetti the reporter immediately sets the snidey, sniggering tone for the whole article, "I must have hit a bum note after asking why the sexy Scot doesn't make more of her fabulous figure - when she suddenly flies off on one." Ms Benedetti's desire to talk about her music and achievements rather than any desire to take her clothes off doesn't stop him: "So I guess Nicola won't be posing for the lads mags anytime soon. Pity because she looks as fit as a fiddle." He is not interested at all in how dedicated, talented, creative, intelligent or hard working this young woman is.
Both of these articles depressed me but I'd filed them away in the 'must look into properly later' part of my brain until I read this Saturday's Guardian.
Deborah Orr's brilliant article you can read here focuses on The Sun and a new campaign to get rid of Page 3 but as it so rightly points out that this is just ‘the highly visible tip of misogyny's iceberg'.
And I think the two articles that had recently made me feel so uncomfortable are prime examples of what happens when what should be outdated attitudes are allowed to linger. They display such a misogynist, demeaning view of women and the only positive was that were plenty of people who had the same reactions to them as I did. They are truly dreadful pieces of ‘journalism’.
Yet they were deemed acceptable to be printed in mainstream newspapers. The writers, the editorial team, the editor all thought it acceptable to print them. No doubt if asked why the 'justification’ would be because it's opinionated/ humourous/ controversial/ witty.
It’s not. And this isn't a women versus men thing. I don't know of any man I’ve spoken to who have found either of these articles any of those things. Nor is it a sense of humour versus humourless thing, nor a freedom of expression thing. It's about a respect thing, a treating each other as you would want (male or female) to be treated thing, a being an intelligent species that doesn't need to put each other down in this way thing.
As Deborah Orr puts it so well “[Page 3] carries the message that objectification and exploitation are all that human beings can offer to each other or expect."
So, that's why I am signing up to the new campaign wanting to see the end of page 3. Getting rid is sending the right message that this is from an era that is well behind us or at least should be, that we have moved on, attitudes have changed (they have, surely...) – for the better not worse, that we have all grown up. Getting rid of page 3 would be empowerment for women - and men. Let's get rid of outdated pictures and outdated attitudes. And move to where I’d prefer to be living - in 2012.
The campaign’s on Twitter @NoMorePage3 and the petition is here
And one last thing to ponder – below is something also currently doing the rounds of social media. This, I believe, is a genuine article from about 60 years ago – just how far have we come?