For those who have only just noticed that the British tabloid press is institutionally misogynist, well done! The idea that the ONLY thing wrong with the media is its pro-union bias is incredibly parochial and one-dimensional. The problems of the media, and the tabloid media in particular, is the concentration of power and how it has allowed a handful of very rich very right-wing men exert their worldview for a number of decades. This is about concentration of wealth, abuse of power and a monopoly of information. The projection and stigmatisation of ‘other’ from these media outlets is the outcome of allowing this state of affairs to continue and the victim-blaming of anyone not a very rich right wing man is the result.
Some people seem to have woken up to this only yesterday.
The photo taken in a Glasgow hotel because Theresa May can’t cope with the psycho-geography of meeting on Scottish Government properties ushered in a bizarre set of analysis featuring coverage of Nicola Sturgeon’s thumb (which is ‘tense’) and their ‘unsheathed pins’.
It’s obviously extremely sexist but it’s also an exercise in misdirection.
What have the Daily Mail got to say about the substance of the meeting?
Nothing particularly useful apart from regurgitate a series of vaguely offensive stereotypes and ridicukopus ad homine attacks on Sturgeon. For the Mail ‘what stands out here are the legs’. Really? What stands out here is the extraordinary constitutional crisis we’re engulfed in and the complete intransigence, political failure and communication problems of the Prime Minister.
Take any given week and you can see a slew of extraordinary attacks on women. Here’s five.
1. Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, said it was “disappointing” that Judge Philip Shorrock had expressed views that “lean in favour of […] ‘victim blaming’ culture”, after he wrote to the Telegraph that most trials led to the alleged rapist being “unsurprisingly” acquitted because both parties had been drinking or taking drugs, and there was no independent proof of rape.
2. Its reported that the sort of death-threats made against Jo Cox could ‘keep women out of politics’. No shit.
3. A man was given an absolute discharge after he pled guilty to the rape of a 12-year-old girl.
4. Or take the Tax credit ‘rape clause’ which became law without a parliamentary vote.
5. And just in case we were under the illusion that it’s only the nasty crude red-tops that can’t quite get their heads around the 21st C, here’s the Sunday Times only a week ago which manages to use imagery that they wouldn’t possibly use with men alongside the idea that the First Minister of Scotland is a dog.
It’s in this context of legitimised violence that the relentless analysis and denigration of women in the media goes on and on. It undermines our entire democracy as it excludes and alienates an entire section of or populace from participating in public life.
Further, as Owen Jones writes today – this behaviour by the Daily Mail may not be new – but it’s a signifier for a new moment in British public life:
“On a daily basis, it spews out hatred about women, immigrants, Muslims, the NHS, the BBC, comprehensive education, unions, LGBT people, the welfare state: you name it, they hate it. But there is something far more sinister about this front page. Britain is now in the throes of a national counter-revolution. Thought Brexit was all about Britain’s relationship with the EU? It wasn’t even just about immigration. While millions who voted leave had multiple, complex reasons for their choice, the most bigoted elements of British society decided that the referendum presented them with a mandate. This was a glorious national uprising not simply against Brussels, they decided, but against “political correctness”, against the conquests made by everything from the anti-racist movement to feminism to trans rights. The gloves were off, they decided. You’ve had your party, PC liberal do-gooders, and now it’s over and you will pay. And so we end up with hate crimes surging on our streets, with judges denounced as “enemies of the people” and labelled “openly gay ex-Olympic fencers” all because they want parliamentary scrutiny, while female politicians are leered at for having legs.”
Legs sheathed? Thumbs relaxed? As you were.