When The Sun newspaper first launched topless models on Page 3 back in 1970, British society was very different from what it is today. In 1970, no woman had ever climbed Mount Everest, marital rape was still legal, we'd yet to elect the first female Prime Minister and there were no recognisable female stand-up comics.
In the '80s and '00s, comediennes such as Victoria Wood, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders blazed a trail for funny women in the UK, and although female comics are hardly ubiquitous on the contemporary stand-up scene, they are now great enough in number to make a difference. Which is why it's heartening to see stand-up comedians of both genders come together join the fight against sexism in our society and our media.
This month, comedians including Lucy Porter, Tiffany Stevenson and Joel Dommet come together for Stand Up to Sexism, an evening of comedy that will try to readdress the balance of macho-chauvinism that seems to be creeping into our everyday lives. This one-off comic extravaganza is organised by the Everyday Sexism Project and No More Page 3 campaign, both of which are seeking to stamp out the casual misogyny, which clogs our city streets and tabloid newspapers.
As recipient of unsolicited 'compliments' such as "Sexy, sexy, want to touch it?", I was relieved when the Everyday Sexism Project launched to catalogue similar instances of sexism that women experience on a daily basis. The No More Page 3 campaign, which launched in September, is calling on The Sun editor Dominic Mohan to remove topless models from the ostensibly family newspaper. It seems absurd that in 2012 it’s acceptable to publish photos of topless women next to news of the financial crisis engulfing Europe or The Queen's historic visit to Ireland, but that is the reality we're faced with in this country.
Both campaigns have attracted wide-ranging support from top comedians such as Jennifer Saunders, Robin Ince, Chris Addison and Josie Long, which has helped to raise the profile of these important projects. In efforts to raise further awareness about these great campaigns, the Stand Up to Sexism event will showcase top comedians and performers from feminist drag burlesque stars to a women’s rights rap, with a healthy dose of laughs too.
I often get frustrated that modern feminists are lumped together as humourless, shouty radicals, so it's a relief to see these two great projects join forces to poke fun at these stereotypes and show that women certainly do have a sense of humour, as long as they are given something genuinely funny to laugh about.
All profits from tickets sold for Stand Up to Sexism will go to End Violence Against Women Coalition. The event takes place at London's Harold Pinter Theatre on Sunday 18 November 2012 and tickets cost £15 - £20 from ATG.
Images via NoMorePage3.tumblr.com