November 13, 2012
Ministerial Support Team
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH
Your Ref: 218392/SA/01
Dear Ms. Alleyne,
I am very disappointed that the Government’s stance is that they will wait for the recommendations from the Leveson Inquiry.
The contradictory advice that the Press Complaints Commission is the recommended avenue should a complaint need to be raised against a publication; “However, the Code does not cover matters of taste and decency because what is offensive to one reader may be utterly innocuous to another” is an inadequate response. We have already submitted a complaint to them about the Evening Standard and were told that there’s nothing they [the PCC] can do. Which is why I felt to write to David Cameron in the first place. The PCC are inundated with complaints about sexual images in newspapers – and they have no power to act on them. What are you as a Government going to do about that?
Further, when you say “We know that some people find some of the content of newspapers and adult magazines offensive, and I can assure you that the Government if particularly concerned that children should not be exposed to inappropriate material of any kind.” Really? We are NOT talking about adult magazines; we are talking about daily newspapers. You are allowing abuse of children by colluding with the press.
The question that urgently requires a response is; why are you continuing to defend a man’s right to ogle, over a child’s right to innocence?
Adult magazines used to be on the top shelf, with a cover. Now they are on every magazine rack in every supermarket – Nuts, Loaded, Esquire, FHM – all have semi-naked women on their covers. Objectification is rife. Where are concerned citizens to go when we need to raise a concern? Your recommendation is to go to the police, who are already overwhelmed by alcohol related violence and increasing domestic violence. That’s your solution as a Government? To overload the police force by not taking responsibility to change an archaic system that allows the press to remain unaccountable?
The Obscene Publications Act 1957 you mention brings up no results on the Legislation.gov.uk website. Could you please advise where I can access a copy? The Wikipedia page has some information that deems it a useless act as only one person, on appeal, was convicted in the history of the act since 1957. So this doesn’t seem a relevant option to use in a case against a newspaper. And the recommended fine is only £100, hardly a deterrent.
I would like to know the details of the out come of the meeting Ed Vaizey had on the issue of the representation of women in the media. Great that they devoted a meeting to the issue, but from your letter, no decisive outcome was achieved. What is the status of the Communications Review? It is blatantly obvious that existing regulation is not a fit for the modern media environment.
Unfortunately, the truth is that no one is taking responsibility. The supermarkets are not stopping putting the sexual images away from the eyes of children, the papers, and it now the Government, are allowing this to continue and claiming a “body confidence campaign” will somehow build self-esteem. Yet every day, young children see semi-naked women on magazine covers while their parents are buying the groceries. Their parents are bringing home newspapers that have sexually graphic images of women and it’s accepted as the norm.
The NSPCC has just released a report on the qualitative study of children, young people and ‘sexting’. It makes for shocking reading about the state of our children’s lives and what we have created. We are out of control – following numbly in the footsteps of the press. I recommend you taking a few minutes to review the chilling information it uncovers.
From the report: Brian McNair (2002) has argued Western society has become a ‘striptease culture’ preoccupied with confession, revelation and exposure. This is connected to an ongoing breakdown or renegotiation of the boundary between public and private, which is itself the outcome of multiple, intersecting factors including the partial success of the women’s and sexual liberation movements, shifts in media regulation away from censorship and towards ‘an informed consumer model’ (Bragg & Buckingham, 2009), and the possibilities opened up by rapid technological change.”
“Perhaps the broadest level at which sexism operates in the young people’s lives is to be found in the deeply rooted notion that girls and young women’s bodies are somehow the property of boys and young men.”
Would you like this to be your daughter? Gang raped at the age of eleven by a group of ten or more fourteen-year-old boys outside her school? This is happening every day somewhere in London. And still the Government is taking no responsibility for the images our innocent children are seeing every day. The men that ogle are fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers and professionals and are seen as role models to our young men – those boys are upholding that behaviour as normal.
Why are we continuing to defend a man’s right to ogle, over a child’s right to innocence?
Seriously. Enough with our complacent attitude towards the treatment of women in our society by the Media. We need to step up and take responsibility for the impact that the Media has on our attitude towards women.
We have a dossier that’s growing every day. Please let me know if you would like to see examples of the trash we are allowing – it’s too big to post.
Sarah M Cloutier