I have to be careful, sometimes, that I don’t become seen as some self-appointed Women in the Media watchdog, ripping out articles about women that are sexist/misogynistic/depressing/inaccurate/irresponsible, of which there are plenty, and neatly sticking them in my feminist scrapbook. I’d be well on my way to volumes in the triple figures and each would feature the entire back catalogue of Vogue and the Daily Mail. However, I am occasionally pushed to my limits, and I feel the need to thrust some new offending article in the face of my nearest colleague or friend and demand why, why, does the UK media continue to stick the knife in?
Yesterday I had the pleasure of reading the London Metro on the way to work – that well-known bastion of frontline reporting and liberal journalism – and was delighted to see on page 7 a news in brief that started with:
“Police officers could be pounding the beat in leopard-skin kitten heels after Theresa May was put in charge of revamping their uniforms.”
This is a woman who has taken on one of the most demanding and difficult roles in the cabinet, who has recently made a string of announcements which have signaled significant changes to the police force, including a huge cut in their budget and the recruitment of hundreds of thousands of community support offices to help fulfill the coalition vision of a Big Society.
But no – ooff – we’re just going to knock you back a bit, have a bit of a laugh at your expense, Theresa, because the lads down the local police station hadn’t even heard of you until some journalist showed them of picture of one of your more “outlandish outfits” and they’re having a right old chuckle about a woman in a position of authority telling them what to wear, because it makes them feel less emasculated about the fact a woman in a position of authority is telling them what to do. It’s become a bit of a mantra, but This Would Never Happen To A Man – even one who was remotely more interested in what he puts on his body every morning than the average person.
The Metro goes on to say:
“Theresa has previously been spotted sporting tight leather trousers, and donned a brown leather trench coat to Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament.”
How thrilling. I’ve seen Ed Balls sporting an ill-fitting suit and Peter Mandelson in red socks, but I figured it wasn’t particularly important and let it pass. Next time I’ll make sure I phone the nearest news desk.
It concludes with a comment from a Totally Average police officer:
“I’m sure Theresa May is very good at her job but she has terrible fashion sense”
Yeah, so shall we just let her get on with it and stop behaving like juvenile tits?
I get it, it’s a joke, very funny, ha ha. But alarming numbers of people read the Metro as their only source of news every day, and it isn’t clever, it isn’t funny and it isn’t responsible to continue perpetuating the myth that women in politics are an oddity and we have the right to laugh at them.