In the UK there are the 'Page 3' models (in case you are unfamiliar with them, they are topless models that appear everyday in <i>The Sun</i>, usually with snippets of text about how young they are, and suggestive speech bubbles). Because <i>The Sun</i> is such a widely read publication and because that particular page is so popular, Page 3 is readily accessible on the bus, in the tube, on the kitchen table, in the newsagents, etc., etc. A while ago the politician Clare Short tried to get Page 3 outlawed because she said that it promoted sexism. She quickly got shouted down by other politicans and by the public who mocked her for being unattractive and whining. It seems to me that Clare Short had a point. If people, especially young kids, see this type of woman everywhere they go they might believe that woman are there to be eternally young and up for it, so to speak, and that it is okay to see them purely as sexual objects. Equality between men and women could be suffering from this, surely? Or is that sexuality is an important part of human life and people are just expressing themselves, and therefore to suppress it would be artificial? Any answers you can give would be great, thanks!

Much that people and corporations do contributes to a sexist culture, undermining equality of men and women. Such conduct is wrong in most cases. But there's a big step from this insight to the conclusion that such conduct should be outlawed. Outlawing wrong conduct can easily be counterproductive in much the same way as Clare Short's proposal was by getting her ridiculed for being unattractive and whining. And it can have other bad effects as well -- just imagine what a law against lying with a $100 fine attached, or a law against sexist jokes and remarks, would do to interpersonal relations and the court system.

I don't have enough information to judge whether it makes sense to outlaw that Page 3 in the UK. If it does make sense, there are probably better ways for most citizens to spend time and effort toward reducing sexism than organizing a Ban-Page-3 campaign. More importantly, if it does not make sense -- and even if it would be wrong -- to outlaw Page 3, this does not undermine your judgment that it is wrong to print such a page, wrong to buy the Sun and wrong to spread it around.

Surely anything that promotes sexism is, to the degree and for that reason, a bad thing. Truth is, the popular media and advertising reinforce all kinds of biases and prejudices (against older people, against people who do not fit social standards of beauty or attractiveness, against poor people, against people of color--by inadequate representation, and so on and so on). The media make money from doing so, because people have the interests they have--and these interests are often sexist and biased in all of the relevant ways.

So you want to ban all of the ways in which the media promote or reinforce such wrongs? Well...you will have a lot of censorship to do!

On the other hand, as Pogge suggests, surely there are more important concerns (in regard to sexism specifically, and in regard to making the world a better place more generally) than becoming overly concerned that Page 3 shows the breasts of young women. Before you get too far gone in moral indignation about this issue, it might be wise to consider whether there is anything else more important in the world going on--for which some effort from you would make a difference. Spending lots of moral capital on relatively minor evils, and thus ignoring more important ones, seems to me to be a significant lack of moral judgment in itself.

I'm not saying that sexism isn't bad--it is bad. I am saying that you probably have more important things to attend to than the Page 3 issue... If you are looking for trouble in the world, it isn't hard to find. Use your best judgment as to which of the endless troubles you find are most worth your concern.

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