Tesco announced today that they’d be covering the front pages of newspapers to protect children from ‘sexualised images’. This is in response to campaigns from protest groups Child Eyes and No More Page 3.
Obviously children are exposed to a lot worse than page 3 in their daily lives, and on one hand it seems a strange focus – titalating images of semi naked women don’t really have a place in newspapers, but then nor in my opinion does sport. Certainly I’d be more inclied to protest about offensive imagery on page 3 of the Sun if I could get to page 3 without finding at least four things I objected to more on pages 1 and 2.
However, there’s certainly an issue around the way women are portrayed in the media. It’s not so much that sexual portrayals are out there, it’s that they’re often the ONLY images that are out there. Men have few problems with seeing sexualised photos of men in the media because there are enough photos of men doing other things as part of propper news stories.
The answer, then isn’t to get rid of all the sexual imagery, it’s to make sure it’s in propper proportion to all the other imagery. Stopping sexualised images on magazine covers isn’t going to make women more respected (there’s no page 3 in Iraq) – it’s the lack of other images that’s the real problem.
As a parent you’re really at the sharp end of all this though – adults don’t stand at newsstands asking ‘why?’ everytime they see an image that concerns them (I wish they did!) – children do.
And the real test of us as parents is how we answer the questions our kids ask us every day.
Whether or not there are images of naked women in the supermarket, our kids WILL see them somewhere, and the real change in our society will be driven by how eloquently we respond when weighed down with shopping and trying to remember whether we’ve run out of toilet paper we are asked:
“why hasn’t that lady got any clothes on?”