Interview with Lucy-Anne Holmes, for No More Page Three.

In support of the No More Page Three campaign, and in honor of Lucy-Anne Holmes, we took particular delight in interviewing Lisa Clarke, who told us a little bit about the motive of the campaign :
 Could you tell us a little bit about the formation of your organisation?
No More Page 3 was started in August 2012 by Actress and Author Lucy-Anne Holmes.
 It was during the London 2012 Olympics Lucy bought a copy of The Sun following the ‘Super Saturday’ where lot’s of gold medals were won, she picked that particular paper because of its’ reputation for sports coverage. Whilst leafing through it she discovered that Page three wasn’t there and that the page had been taken up by pictures of athletes sporting achievements, thinking the feature had been dropped as a sign of respect to the Olympians she was later dismayed to find it on page 11. The page 3 image was the largest image of a woman in the paper, larger than the image of Jessica Ennis who had just won gold for her country.
 Lucy describes that moment as being a ‘huge slap in the face. A reminder that it’s a man’s world’. So she wrote to the editor at the time Dominic Mohan, who never responded, and so she decided to start a petition and a twitter and Facebook page.
 Lucy ran the campaign with help from friends but largely alone for the first 6 months and then suffered a burnout. She reached out to some people who had been involved on the periphery and at that point the campaign became a team – NMP3HQ was born.
Did events growing up influence you in your task?
Interestingly one of the accusations levied at the campaign regularly is that it is middle class and not Sun readers but actually the very reason so many of us are part of this and feel as passionate about it is because we come from working class, sun reader homes.
 We are, some of us, the products of the 70’s and 80’s Sun reader households and we’re standing up to say having soft pornographic, sexualised, topless pictures of women (and at that time girls) in a newspaper bought into family homes was not and is not harmless.
 Being exposed to this image in any setting we now know is not good for children but actually when you are a pubescent girl and you see this in a news publication it gives it extra gravitas, extra importance. It makes a very firm statement in informing it’s readers about the status of women in the UK and if you don’t measure up to the ideal presented you begin to feel abnormal.
 This is the reason why we feel the voices of young people in this campaign are so important and to this day why the announcement of the backing of Girl Guides remains one of our biggest highlights.
 
Do you ever worry about people’s reactions, to your mission, especially on Twitter?
Twitter is amazing isn’t it. It can be so useful, such a great tool to reach 1000s very quickly and to reach very influential people in the public eye in a way that would otherwise be very difficult.
 Obviously as recent high profile stories have shown however twitter can also be pretty brutal and we have been on the receiving end of some of that, although not as bad as many. The fact that we are a group I think makes us slightly less of a target than a lone person and also means we are there to support each other. HQ gives us a place to vent our upset, worries and concern and allows us to bounce ideas off each other before responding or not.
To be honest a lot of the abusive comments we get on twitter illustrate beautifully why we are doing what we are doing. They often come down to attacks on our appearance, suggestions about our sexuality that we are prudish, sexless, unhappy, etc etc. none of which are accurate or in anyway valid to what we are doing.
Would you identify yourself as a Feminist?
Yes absolutely, we all identify as feminists and the man on the team is happy to be called a feminist, humanist or an ally
For women who are photographed for page 3, as they have little money, what do you say to them?
To be honest we don’t have a lot of interaction with the current page 3 models although we do have some ex glamour and ex page 3 models amongst our supporters.
NMP3 is not anti-glamour modelling. We have no issue with women who chose to do this kind of modelling, that is entirely their right. What we have issue with is the editorial decision made in 1970 to make such soft porn images a regular feature of a news publication. It was a bad decision then and continues to be so now.
Images like this have their place and that should be an adult publication or website that has to be deliberately sought out, not a newspaper, meant to inform that is bought into public spaces, workplaces and family homes, that markets itself on children’s TV, carries toy promotions and family holidays.
Whilst this image remains where it is there are also many young women who will be exposed to it regularly as part of their upbringing along with numerous other sexualised images of women. With this in mind it is understandable that at present glamour modelling seems an ideal career of choice for so many when society is teaching them that women’s worth is mostly measured on her attractiveness and sexual availability and not on her ability.
 
What do you hope 2014 holds for you?
We honestly believe it holds an end to page 3. There have been numerous signals to suggest it is on the cards – The Irish Sun dropped it in 2013, tweets from News UK execs suggest that the page is being redesigned but also the shifts in public mood on issues such as this is palpable. People are no longer happy with the sea of sexual images they face in public every day. Sexism is being called out and the representation of women is being addressed. Just look at the announcement this weekend that comedy panel shows will have to feature women from now on.
We are very excited too to be sponsoring 2 women’s football teams – Cheltenham and Nottingham Forest, as well as mountain biker – Lee Cragie who will be taking part in the Commonwealth Games from money obtained through crowd sourcing from our supporters. All of these and other sports women in the UK are making news everyday yet only 5% of sports coverage is of women. Instead chunks of our media continue to showcase male sport whilst in contrast they show women as sex objects
The thing is NMP3 is not asking for anything huge or unreasonable it is asking for an end to sexist and unhelpful representation of women in the newspapers. How long can the Sun go on ignoring the changes in society before it looks like a ridiculous anachronism, a dinosaur?
Do you have any advice for similar organisations?
 I think we would say build a strong team and support network because this is hard work, it’s stressful and at times it can really impact on your mental health. You need good friends and colleagues who have your back, who will stand with you and who will also challenge you when needed.
 Trust your instincts and go with your passion. To sustain the energy you need in any campaign you need to feel really passionate and honest about what you are fighting for.
 Network with others – there is a huge presence of amazing feminist campaigns out there with an abundance of experience and knowledge. Get to know them, ask for help and listen to what they tell you. We are so much stronger when we stand together.
 For us as well I think having fun with it is important. That might not work for every campaign but for us we try hard to keep a sense of humour about what we do and a collective positive voice that is warm and welcoming to all. We do some stunts etc that are just bonkers and we have a proper laugh doing it. There are moments where this campaign is very serious indeed but we also have a lot of fun.

What are your handbag essentials? 

Well obviously as we’re all middle class harridans (waves to ex-deputy editor Neil Wallis) we don’t go anywhere without our wheat germ sandwiches
In all seriousness my handbag generally is in complete disarray but I think very few of us go anywhere without our smart phone which provides our life-line link to HQ and a charger to charge it up because we are on it constantly. The rest is a bit of a mystery but HQ have just had great fun answering the question of feminist handbag essentials, here are a few –
  • The Pill
  • Ticket stubs to the “vagina monologues” and feminist play “Blurred Lines”
  • Keys, because I own my home because of feminism
  • Purse, because I have my own bank account because of feminism.
  • Work ID because I have a job because of feminism.
  • A loud speaker, whistle and collapsible placard
  • dungarees and comfortable shoes
    A mooncup
  • An armpit hair comb
(warning, it is possible that some of these handbag essentials are not strictly true)
Do you take any particular tactics when campaigning?
 Oooo that’s a tricky one. I think we try and keep tings as upbeat and positive as we can and try not to get drawn into arguments or negativity. Obviously that doesn’t always apply and we have shared survivors stories etc. but on the whole we feel what makes us appealing is our humour and warmth so we try to maintain that as much as possible.
 We have a background of work running all the time of looking at promotions and advertising and intermittently approaching the businesses that are linking themselves with this blatant sexism.
We look for ways to promote the campaign through media, celebrity endorsements and we try to get to as many places to speak or run workshops etc as we can to try and spread the message as far as we can.
 We have built up networks of letter writers, students etc and links with other campaigns so as well as our core HQ we have loads of people working hard at this including some absolutely die hard supporters who argue our points ad infinitum on Facebook and twitter.
 A lot of the time our work is responding to what comes to us. We are so incredibly lucky to have the supporters we do that surprise us constantly with the work they have been doing all off their own back. Suddenly we will get a tweet or email from a student saying their Uni has been tirelessly campaigning and has voted to boycott or from another supporter that they have successfully lobbied their union, workplace or institution to back the campaign. It can be so exciting, we never know what is coming next. You have to be ready to respond to whatever is thrown up, sometimes that is great booms like Girl guides, other times it will be another interview with Dinsmore and we have to get something out in response quickly.
 It’s not easy as we’re all volunteers and doing this in our spare time but somehow we largely manage it.
What role does the internet play in your campaign?
 
Without the internet this campaign wouldn’t really exist, it would certainly not be the size it is.
The internet and social media is in essence the backbone not just of our campaign but of the largest part of this 4th wave of feminism. It has given women a voice who may never have found it before, because they can exercise their right to an opinion and voice it from their own living room or (as we said earlier) from the phone in their own handbag or pocket.
Blogging, networks and websites have allowed all these voices to come together and speak as one about why this is not longer acceptable. They have taken those voices into other homes and reached those who have thought they were alone in their dislike of page 3 etc or have caused those who had never done so to question it for the first time and see it for what it is – Blatant sexism and misrepresentation of women in our biggest selling newspaper.
The internet is also our rallying point for activism be that real life ,marches, flashmobs etc or more online activism like last week when we did #Pyjamaactivism and staged a virtual sit in of o2 customer services to protest the brand linking itself up with The Sun to offer free Sun+ with its phone contracts.
I think we are still discovering al the ways the internet can work for us in our campaign and we’re soon launching a new website as we’ve sort of outgrown the last one. As usual It’s all very exciting.

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