Clare Short on getting rid of Page 3

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Clare Short on getting rid of Page 3

Postby delphyne » Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:59 am

What happened when Clare Short took on the might of the Sun, the UK's biggest selling newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, to attempt to get soft porn pictures of women taken out of Britain's tabloids:

The vote was 97 in favour, 56 against. I had won permission to bring in my Bill.

The press the next day continued to try to belittle me and my Bill, with the usual sexual innuendo and ugly photos. The parliamentary sketches in the so-called ‘quality’ papers were as dismissive as the tabloids. Having skimmed the press, I went to the post office to pick up my post in my usual way. I always receive a big bundle of mail but this day was exceptional. The bundle was massive. I hurried to my desk wondering what the letters would say. What I found were hundreds of loving, caring, supportive letters from women. They sent me pictures of their daughters and cards with beautiful pictures of flowers. They wrote to say how much they agreed with me. But the most urgent message was that they were shaking with rage at how I was treated. I was deeply touched by this enormous affection from women I had never met. The strength and loveliness of it far outweighed the humiliation and nastiness I had experienced before.

As the days went by, the letter continued to flow in. They came in their thousands. They were enormously welcome but created real problems for me just in opening and reading them and sorting them from the letters from constituents that urgently needed my help with immediate problems. I involved my mother and sisters in helping me open and sort the mail. I also had to decide how I could possibly reply. It was impossible to write individually to each. I prepared a standard letter and organised my family and friends sitting round on the floor at weekends stuffing replies into envelopes and helping to address them.

Not only was I deeply moved by the letters, but I was educated too. They said so much, so eloquently. Women of all ages, backgrounds, politics and experiences wrote about their feelings. Some brought me to tears. I remember especially an early letter from a young woman who said she had been raped some time ago. She had blamed herself ever since. But she said that when she heard me say that many women believed that there was a link between the mass circulation of such images and the rape and sexual abuse of women, she had realized for the first time that the attack was not her fault. This meant a lot to her because throughout the rape the man had kept saying that she ought to be on Page 3. She thanked me and said she felt much better. There were letters from who had had breasts removed in cancer operations, who said how much it hurt them that their husbands brought such papers into their house. I remember one who asked me not to write back because her husband would be angry if he knew she had written to me.

There were lots of letters which said ‘I am not a feminist or I didn’t think I was’ but went on to argue vehemently against the damage and insult caused by pornography. Hundreds of women told me how they had hated the pictures for years but never dared to object because they would be accused of being jealous. They said how happy they were to find out that other women felt as they did.

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