The Daily Star IS Pornographic
Posted by charliegrrl on July 22, 2007
The Daily Star is a national daily newspaper, which is sexist, includes topless photos of women on Page 3 and most often a near naked woman on the front cover. Not the sort of newspaper which is work friendly…right..?
Up until a few months ago, I worked for the Dept. of Work and Pensions. When I first started, I received excellent training on diversity and equality, so I felt optimistic that I had found an employer that takes gender equality seriously. So, in my first week of training, when I saw a male security guard reading The Daily Star at reception, I thought this must be a one-off and that if I complained it would be sorted straight away. I thought that the DWP would sympathise that it is not acceptable that I should have to walk past topless and near-naked photos of women on my way into work. Well…you’d think so. Instead this was the beginning of a 10 month battle with the DWP against sexist imagery in my workplace.
I soon realised that it is common for men to read The Daily Star in work. I could not understand why these men felt it was acceptable to bring into work and read openly a newspaper that not only has topless photos of women on Page 3, but has also near naked photos of women on the front cover. I thought this must be a sign of the times, that pornographic imagery is so normalised that men don’t consider anything wrong in looking at topless women in the office. My daily experience of walking in and out of work was seeing pornographic imagery of women. Obviously this made me feel fustrated and angry.
So I complained to the people in charge of Diversity at our centre. They were sympathetic and said it would stop. But it didn’t, even after two more complaints. So I made a formal grievance. My (male) team leader and my (female) union rep said that The Daily Star is a national newspaper so they can’t do much about it. It isn’t top shelf pornography so what’s the big deal, they implied..? To which I said, The Sport isn’t a top shelf publication either, but is it acceptable to bring that into work? In meetings with them, I ensured I had a copy of The Daily Star with me as an example. When I actually confronted them with the images, they were obviously uncomfortable and seemed to understand my view. I argued that the DWP should ban The Daily Star from work premises because it is sexist and pornographic. If any colleagues looked at similar images on the internet, this would be an act of misconduct; if any colleagues pinned these up on their wall, this would be considered sexual harrassment. So the same goes for newspapers. Women at work should not have to put up with daily seeing pornographic imagery on people’s desks. I considered this to be a form of sexual harrassment, as it made my workplace uncomfortable for me as a woman. If the DWP had a commitment to the Gender Equality Duty, they would ban sexist imagery from the workplace.
Despite my objections, it still carried on. I felt like my complaints were landing on deaf ears. I felt like they were not listening to me when I told them how such sexist imagery makes me feel, but instead telling me I shouldn’t have a problem with it. I even sought advice from the EOC, who said that I would find it hard to prove that The Daily Star is sexist… The icing on the cake was when the new boy sat on the desk next to me. He would bring in The Daily Star everyday and leave it open on his desk and read it in his lunch break. One day I had had enough, and I told him, ‘Can you please put away that newspaper as I do not wish to see topless photos of women when I come into work’. He looked at the paper and made an embarrassed laugh, like he had just realised how inappropriate the images are. I complained to my line manager again. It took him about two weeks to acknowledge my complaint and finally tell the new boy not to leave The Daily Star on his desk or read it near me.
Meanwhile, the security guards continued to read the paper at reception. One day, I got pissed off. I was standing at reception, where I saw The Daily Star lying open, so I took it and binned it. About an hour later I was called into a room with the centre manager. She told me I was caught on CCTV taking the newspaper. I explained to her my months of complaints. She was sympathetic but had to issue me with a formal warning meeting. She was advised by her seniors to give me a warning for gross misconduct for theft. After a meeting with my manager and my union, she decided not to issue me with a formal warning. I got away with no formal action against me, only because I had a good union rep and a sympathetic manager.
Soon after, the security guards stopped reading The Daily Star and a message was sent out through a newsletter to be considerate when reading the paper. So I got the result I wanted but only after having broken the rules.
All this left me feeling so upset with the DWP, I was on the verge of quitting my job. I had to go through formal meetings with the threat of misconduct action against me, all because from fustration I removed a sexist newspaper. I was so disappointed, I couldn’t understand why it was so hard to get the DWP to act upon sexism in the workplace? I felt I could not stay in a department that, despite having indepth diversity and equality policies, was not committed to gender equality at grassroots.
Object are calling on Marks and Spencers to stop selling The Daily Star. They already refuse to sell lads mags, but still sell The Daily Star. Marks and Spencer wrote an encouraging letter to Object implying that they can understand why The Daily Star could be considered inappropriate, but they haven’t had people complain about it. So, that’s where we come in. If you would like to be able to buy a newspaper from a shop wherein there is no visible pornographic imagery of women, then please send a letter or email to Marks and Spencer to make this happen, by calling for them to stop selling The Daily Star. For a template letter and more info visit Object
Marks and Spencer
Retail Customer Services
Chester Business Park
Chester CH4 9GA