LONDON, April 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain’s Daily Star newspaper has stopped showing topless women on page three, becoming the last daily national newspaper to drop the regular soft-core porn feature that for years had been a staple of the country’s tabloid press.
The paper’s editor confirmed on Friday the women will remain, but in response to reader feedback, they will no longer be bare-breasted, a change women’s groups hailed as long overdue and which a media expert said reflected a sea change in culture.
“Its astonishing that a national newspaper has found space for this dated content for so long,” said Rachel Krys, the co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition.
“But the sexualisation and objectification of women and girls in the tabloid press continues, in both the images used and the way serious issues affecting women are reported.
“Lets hope this is a sign of progress.”
The Sun newspaper was the first British title to introduce a daily tradition of topless models on page three in the 1970s, with other tabloid titles following suit.
But the feature was gradually dropped by newspapers in the face of increasing scrutiny and criticism by those who argued it was demeaning and encouraged the objectification of women.
The Daily Star had been the last British daily newspaper to keep printing topless page three photos after they were quietly ended by the Sun in 2015.
“I think it has become an anachronism because we live in different times from when it started,” media commentator Roy Greenslade told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Women no longer think it is amusing to be objectified and as the #MeToo movement has shown, this is a new world we live in and women are not about to put up with that nonsense.”
He noted that when the Sun dropped page three it did not cause any noticeable difference in sales, suggesting the feature may have become “counterproductive” for owners.
The growth of digital media also meant those seeking out such images were more likely to turn to the internet, he added.
The Daily Star’s online home page still largely consists of women in suggestive poses.
The paper’s announcement came months after it was sold by Richard Desmond, who had owned a number of pornographic titles, to Daily Mirror publisher Reach PLC.
“The Daily Star is always looking to try new things and improve,” said Daily Star editor Jonathan Clark in a statement.
"In that spirit, we've listened to reader feedback and are currently trialing a covered-up version of page three." (Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Jason Fields. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)