Plastering topless pictures on page 3 of the Sun newspaper contributes to the sexualisation of women, Liberal Democrat minister Lynne Featherstone says.
The minister said it’s a real problem, even though “a lot of blokes” would claim such an attitude is “sour-faced”.
And she cautioned about the effects the images could have on young women.
In an interview with the Independent on Sunday, she said: “There is a real argument about what is OK in the public space.
“If you are on the Tube you may find Page 3 is facing you and your young daughter and you may not want that to be a role model for her.”
The minister, who is now in the Department for International Development, commented: “It’s about the constant drip, drip of women being sexualised in the public space” which has a “great bearing on attitudes and domestic violence”.
She said: “When you know that one in four women experience domestic violence in their life, two women are killed each week by their partner or husband, there is a very long way to go.
“While a lot of blokes say ‘You are mean, sour-faced, whatever – it’s harmless’, actually it’s not harmless at all.”
The Sun has been publishing photographs of topless women on page 3 since November 1970.
Former Labour MP Clare Short tried and failed to introduce a private member’s bill to ban the feature back in 1986.
In 2010 Lynne Featherstone said photos of impossibly thin women should have to carry a symbol if they have been altered on a computer.
She said women are made to feel inadequate by images of flawless stick-thin models staring out at them from magazines.