Shame the sidebar of shame

Conservative values are, more often than not, populist crap that avoid ever facing the real issue.

Have the Tories ever considered whether the way that the Daily Mail depicts women on their ‘sidebar of shame’ is hugely damaging to the self-esteem of women, and gives people the feeling that they have a right to objectify them?


Surely stopping the Daily Mail publishing such articles (as seen on the right hand side of the screengrab – including one about a 16 year old girl), rather than blanket banning pornography would go further to achieving the ‘Tory goal’ of stopping childhood being corroded?

After all, if not online, newspapers are easily accessible to children (who are encouraged to read newspapers to learn about current affairs) and contain all sorts of graphic depictions of violence, sex and abuse.

But no political party will ever ask the Daily Mail, or any other newspaper, not to run such articles because then they’d face the wrath of the newspaper industry and subsequently the party who asked would magically not receive their support anymore.

This has been proved by David Cameron stating that he would not ask The Sun to take breasts off page 3, rather leave it to consumer to decide whether to look.

Asked by Woman’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey whether he was worried that his daughters could be confronted by Page 3, he repeated: “This is an area where we should leave it to consumers to decide, rather than to regulators … As politicians we have to decide where is the right place for regulation, where is the right place for legislation, where is the right place for consumers to decide.”

The founder of the No More Page 3 campaign, Lucy Holmes, said she thought Cameron’s willingness to acknowledge the dangers of online pornography while ignoring the parallel dangers of topless images on page 3 of Britain’s best-read newspaper was “peculiar”.

I suspect that more children know how to access the Daily Mail website than know how to access to a porn website and even more than that will have picked up a copy of The Sun.

This isn’t a debate on porn rather a discussion about whether trying to ban internet porn before you ban the shameful articles and images that appear on the sidebar of a national newspaper is right or wrong.

I believe that to tackle the issue properly, you have to start at the point before people realise it is inappropriate. The newspaper left open, the website left on the screen and the magazines that are on the living room table.

Do you tackle the populist evil and leave the more visible but subtle evil alone? If you’re a Conservative, go for the populist approach!

While some considered restrictions must be made, and internet providers and search engines must be more accountable for what people can search without alerting the authorities, if you take it too far down the track then we will ban everything on the off chance that it will cause something in someone to flick and they’ll become evil. But once we have banned everything, will we have to ban boredom? I am sure that boredom would contribute to more damage in our society than porn, or even the sidebar of shame.

Ellie Cosgrave wrote about her experience of being sexually abused on a tube train in the Guardian. While there is no way of knowing whether her abuser was a porn addict, or someone who thought that women could/should be objectified because of the way the media on a daily basis choose to objectify women, we do know that her abuser was wrong and took extraordinary liberties in committing a criminal act. Her response was brave and fierce and we all must applaud and support her.

While we stand idle, not to porn, but the slander and put downs given by our media to women, then we are endorsing the abuse given to women and not the strives toward gender equality that should be our proud shout.


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