As a woman, I often suspect I am just too close to my tits. After all, there they are, just there, morning, noon and night. There are times I’ve longed for a break. Those few days after giving birth when the milk came in and I suddenly find myself with red-hot, rock-hard, agonizing boulders of pain – I’d have happily gone tit-less then. And then there’s early on, back at school when I realized what an object of ridicule these things made me to bra-pinging, girl-fearing classmates -  that’s not an experience I’d call soarawaytastic, either. But still, it’s not all bad; they provide occasional “adult” amusement, plus they’ve fed my kids. On the whole, I’m happy that my breasts are still with me. Like Bagpuss, they might be baggy and a bit loose at the seams, but I love them. Alas, this means I lack objectivity on all matters tit-related.

When it comes to campaigns such as No More Page 3, it’s worth noting that many of those shouting loudest are in possession of womanly bosoms themselves. This is clearly a worry. What can these people – these women – really know about the role of tits in society? Having never been mere passive observers, they’re simply too involved. What can they possibly understand about the representation of breasts and consequent responses to them? Obviously, a man is required to explain all this (preferably one without moobs).

Many women have written wise, thoughtful arguments explaining precisely what is wrong with Page 3. Deborah Orr, Caroline Criado-Perez, Becca Reilly-Cooper and many others have made clear, cogent points, one or two of which are  repeated by Martin Robbins in a New Statesman piece in which gives the impression that no one has ever thought of them before. Perhaps, because Robbins is a tit-less person expressing / hijacking these views, and then using them not to support the campaign, there’s some validity in granting them extra weight. Nonetheless, when Robbins then turns on No More Page 3 founder Lucy Holmes – accusing her of developing her arguments simply by “doing some searches on That Internet and regurgitating some Daily Mail sound-bites” – it’s hard to get all that incensed about originality.

Robbins does not like the No More Page 3 petition because he views it as “slut shaming” and simplistic. He argues that “the petition says nothing about the problems with Page 3 I’ve raised [...], fixating instead on the nipples”. Is it just me and my brain-distracting tits, or is this not total nonsense? Holmes uses flippant comparisons and references to “family” newspapers to highlight the incongruity between what Page 3 does and what the Sun claims to stand for (regardless of what it is). The No More Page 3 campaign really does not strike me as a campaign against nipples. And yet Robbins goes on to claim the following:

It’s worth pointing out that the belief that bare boobs are family-wrecking weapons of child corruption is not a particularly helpful one, and fuels exactly the sort of mood that makes it difficult for mothers to breast-feed in public places.

There’s many a time when I’ve whacked my tits out in public to feed a child. I can assure Martin Robbins that the existence of a petition such as this does not make it any harder, but the existence of Page 3 does. It shapes the context of breasts in public and whom they’re for – and establishing whom they’re for is a big enough battle for breastfeeding women as it is.

I’ve witnessed feminists on twitter debating the risk of No More Page 3 becoming puritanical, victim-blaming or anti-sex. I’ve even had a bit of a ponder about it myself. Martin Robbins is not the first person to worry about this, although he may be one of the first to use it as an argument against the whole campaign. What’s more, it is unfair for him to do so. His whole tone smacks of someone taking pleasure in batting down those whom he wrongly assumes are far less thoughtful than him. Holmes does not hold “breakfast TV shows up as some sort of feminist standard for The Sun to meet” – she’s simply making a joke about context. Moreover, to see a drive for “sexual hegemony” behind a simple request to remove an offensive feature from a national newspaper is far-fetched and intellectually dishonest.

Robbins claims that “Removing the nudity from Page 3 would not in any way decrease the misogyny on that page, or in the paper as a whole”:

At best, misguided attempts to censor nudity distract from the real battle that must be fought, to challenge a tabloid culture in which misogyny oozes from every page. At worst, campaigners are engaging in exactly the same sort of sexual policing and censorship that The Sun does: one side attacking non-conformists, the other belittling the choices of ‘sluts’.

So once more, we’re back to being told to battle “real” misogyny instead of – well, instead of what? Is Page 3 simply free sexual expression? Is it really?

Personally I can’t stand Page 3, but I say the answer is more nudity in newspapers, not less. Put more boobs on Page 3, and add some cocks too. Show people of every size, shape, colour, gender and sexuality; let them speak in their own voice, and celebrate them all. That, rather than self-censorship of adult-oriented content, would be a progressive tabloid revolution worth fighting for.

Well, Martin Robbins, as someone who has had her non-conformist tits on display in many a public place, what you’re suggesting sounds insincere and inconsistent. Diversity in porn sounds fine to me. But to view Page 3 as merely “adult-oriented content” actively disregards the way in which it objectifies women in a broader context, far beyond the world of porn itself. It says “this is all you are, all the time, every day”. And what you suggest as an alternative – “people of every size, shape, colour, gender and sexuality” – simply wouldn’t be Page 3 any more, as it would be performing a different function. So in essence you are asking for an end to Page 3.

So maybe you should sign the petition after all?