The newspaper's latest shaming of a teenager has a clear message: it is going to police women's sexuality
by Holly Baxter
July 4, 2014
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'You’d think that the purveyors of Page 3 … might consider the irony in their own moralising over Brits hitting a new low.' Photograph: Lewis Stickley/PA Archive/Press Association Ima
The Sun has uncovered some shocking news today after its investigative team went to Magaluf to search for stories of international public interest and in pursuit of a viral video. According to its front page, "binge-drink Brits" have sunk to a "new low", "as girl performs 24 sex acts for £4 cocktail".
If you need to know what the girl looks like, perhaps because you'd like to drive her out of your village with a pitchfork, then she appears alongside this announcement, just above the headline "MagaLEWD". This was one of the most disappointing aspects of the report, considering that since time immemorial, teens and twentysomethings have been puntastically referring to the notorious holiday destination as Shagaluf. I expected more along those lines from the geniuses behind News in Briefs.
You'd think that the purveyors of Page 3 – something that has more than once been referred to in serious conversation as "a British institution" – might consider the irony in their own moralising over Brits hitting a "new low". Indeed, you may also think that sending your investigative journalists to search for front page-worthy articles in Magaluf is like sending your most respected culture journalists to search for future Mercury Prize winners at the first stage of the X Factor auditions. Nevertheless, I'm going to cast both these issues aside as there is something more pertinent to consider here.
The girl at the centre of the Sun's "investigation" may have her eyes censored out, but it is clear to see who she is. She is the face of everything that's apparently wrong with youth culture: she gets drunk and is unashamedly sexual, daring all the while to be female. In the words of Twitter this morning she's a "repulsive slag", "actual vermin", "scum of the earth", "a shame to her parents". Again and again, tweeters are questioning what her family – or, sometimes, just her father – must think of her performing those acts of her own volition, without crying, screaming or being physically forced.
It's no secret that the Sun is part of the sexism problem rather than the solution. But what I read into its latest "investigation" – or if we call it what it is, its latest medieval public shaming of a young girl – is a stark warning.
What it says is: we get to police your sexuality. We choose what is sexually pleasing, what is provocative, where the lines lie and when they are blurred. When you're airbrushed and squeezed into a Wonderbra on a billboard in a train station, you're within our boundaries. When you're drunk or sexually aggressive or blase or, God forbid, a combination of all of these, then you're outside. You're a disgrace to yourself, your father and your country.
If you don't learn to play the game and let us tell you what you can and can't do with your hands, your mouth and your vagina, then we'll come for you. It won't be any of those men who you performed sex acts with on the dancefloor who everyone on social media is denouncing in the strongest language possible. It will be you alone who is the subject of a discussion about how British women have gone too far.
Ignore this warning at your own peril.