I don’t think it can be considered feminist to bash page 3.

I think page 3 is bloody fantastic. At the risk of sounding like a sex-positive Ed Miliband, when I see page 3, I think empowerment. And I think the anti-page 3 movement is starkly hypocritical in its condemnation, and what it essentially boils down to is a particularly classist form of Victorian prudishness.

Most feminists would hopefully agree that women have every right to express their sexuality as they see fit – the idea against page 3 is instead that it normalises the objectification of women in what is supposed to be a ‘family paper’, and somehow raises a new generation of sexist assholes. Well, I doubt there are many kids who read the papers, even if there are boobs in them – the new generation of curious pre-pubescents have iPads, and probably scoff at the idea of discovering the naked female form in such antiquated types of media as Playboy or Nuts or the Sun. But even if they did – is the idea that we should hide sexuality from children and teenagers such a positive one? Repression did a lot of damage in Victorian times that arguably still exists to this day. When combined with a decent sex education that teaches the values of consent and respect I see no reason why it would be so problematic for our youth to learn that, hey, some people are sexually attracted to breasts. And if the lack of this type of education is the real concern – as I truly believe it is – why do we not focus our attentions on the cause rather than the boobs that some perceive to be a symptom?

As much as we’d hate to admit it as intersectional feminists, the real prominence of page 3 as the poster-girl for objectification may well be its reader demographic. Look at Suicide Girls, a porn website featuring alternative-looking, tattooed and seemingly higher educated pin-ups, the website is often billed as the feminist-friendly side of glamour modelling. Can we really say that the reason we aren’t more comfortable with these type of breasts is because both the girls and their audience are from a higher stratum of society? There is some inherent classism in the idea that a page 3 model with her blonde hair and fake tan being ogled by a builder on a tea break is being objectified, whilst a university-educated Suicide Girl admired by an IT consultant is being empowered. A woman’s agency is not dependent on whether or not she holds A Levels. It’s also equally irrelevant if she chooses to hide her sexuality behind a paywall on the internet or brashly display it in a national newspaper. Both are her choice, and her actions. Both are designed for the titillation of a predominantly male audience. Both the Suicide Girl and the Page 3 model are aware of this, and to hold up one as empowerment and one as exploitation and objectification because one is done more ‘tastefully’ than the other is nothing but slut-shaming.

After all, what kind of message are we really sending here? You can have your fun in private, but don’t you dare display it in public lest you corrupt the minds of the children! It’s an argument that has been used time and time again, from the repression of the queer community – and for that matter, let’s obliterate the heteronormative assumption that only men enjoy page 3 right now – to kink-shaming, and most damagingly as an argument against rape accusations. If we say that page 3 teaches objectification because it is public, we are tacitly admitting that these women are playing a hand in their own objectification. Maybe they even deserve it. This is not a thought process that bears continuing.

Lastly let’s remember that these are not abstract photos on a page – these are real women, many for whom this will have been their big career break as a glamour model. You may not approve of what their career may signify but I struggle to imagine a world where trying to get a woman fired just because their job choice involves public sexuality is a feminist act.

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VAT food regulations are quite literally the workings of a madman

Good old government. We all know that anything that tastes, feels, or looks pleasurable is at best subject to a hearty amount of taxation, or at worst downright illegal. I always presumed this was the general guideline the state followed – in actual fact, it’s a lot more complicated and ridiculous than you’d imagine.

 

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Consider these regulations on VAT. They’re quite literally the workings of a madman. I don’t want to live in a world where I can be sent to prison for tax avoidance because I decorated my gingerbread man with chocolate instead of icing. What’s the deal with chocolate here, anyway? Did the chocolate industry stab the taxman’s gran, or something? I could buy into the fact that it could be to do with luxury and necessity, but I cannot for the life of me understand how a cookie transforms into a luxury product because the chocolate chips aren’t pressed in far enough.

 

This is all very hilarious, but people actually use taxpayer’s money to take this kind of crap to court. Consider the infamous 1991 VAT tribunal: McVities vs the State (what do you mean you’ve never heard of it?). In order to establish Jaffa Cakes as cakes instead of biscuits, thus avoiding 20% tax, the lawyers raised the point that:

“Cake would be expected to be soft and friable; biscuit would be expected to be crisp and able to be snapped. Jaffa cakes had the texture of sponge cake.”

So there are people in this world going around snapping Jaffa Cakes in court in order to avoid tax. Using our money. It’s good to have faith in humanity. Mind you, they clearly aren’t biscuits, so at least government got something right.

 

As for alcohol, that’s just depressing. Much has been made of the 1p tax cut on beer, but compared to wine and spirits it’s hardly taxed at all. Anyone who’s been a non-Etonian British university student will recall the putrid taste of the rat poison that is Tesco value vodka (or gin for the more discerning and pretentious scholar), but did you know how much of it actually goes to Tesco? A 700ml bottle of the esteemed beverage will set you back £10, but a whopping £8.89 of that is taxation. Essentially, in a just world we’d all be able to buy a bottle of gin for £1.11. (For those of us who don’t relish the taste of paint thinner in the morning, you’d be able to pick up a bottle of Gordon’s for £4.11.) And if you want some fags on top of that, around £6.70 out of an £8.50 packet of cigarettes is tax. It’s amazing how students even bother to get out of bed in the morning.

 

I could make a serious economic point about VAT and sin taxes hitting the poorest hardest and discouraging spending. But really, I can’t be bothered with all of that anymore. For what is government really but the greatest comedy show on earth?

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