Everyday sexism, every day in the Mail

Today's Theresa May headline plumbs new depths


As George Osborne announced the Budget yesterday, he was supported by his ‘milky-necked wife’ (a novelist). Behind him, a woman (the home secretary) ‘sat in a suit so low-cut she could have been taken for Sam Fox’. This is Quentin Lett’s coverage of the Budget speech for the Mail, in which the few women in the Commons desperately try to grab attention by not wearing wetsuits.

Yes, we all know the Mail is sexist, and how nasty Quentin Letts can be – he famously accused Germaine Greer of encouraging a culture whereby girls ‘publicise their sexual availability by wearing T-shirts baring their flab-mottled bellies’.

But it still comes as a shock to see the shameless contempt with which the paper continue to peddle their misogyny, and how creepy they manage to be when doing so – ‘milky-necked’ has something faintly criminal about it. It has been quite a week for Mr Letts, who on Tuesday wrote a very long piece about Nicola Sturgeon’s hair after she made a speech to LSE.

‘Ms Bonkers Barnet flashed her majorities’ helpfully detailed the ‘lime green-clad’ Sturgeon’s body parts:

“Yesterday she might as well have been the leader of the opposition. She had the poise, the mischief, the neck.”

“The hairdo really is astounding. Does she use the same barber as wiggy Michael Fabricant?”,

and described her ‘chirruping’ about potential coalition deals.

Sturgeon, for leading a party, is in particular trouble with the right-wing press at the moment. See this on Monday:


And this from The Sun:


It’s not just that it is plain mean to make constant jibes about someone’s appearance – even children know this. It is the fact that it is being presented as absolutely laughable that, in the case of Sturgeon, a woman could be first minister. How can she possibly expect us to take her seriously on the economy with that hairstyle?

It is little wonder that the OECD believe that girls lack the confidence to go into ‘serious’ subjects like maths and technology, even when their results show they will excel at it. Every day they are bombarded with images and news stories showing them that, if they try to start a career in a field that is traditionally male, they will literally be laughed at.

What is worrying is that we have truly settled into this kind of sexism; it is seen as an intrinsic part of our culture and people start screeching if you try to remove it. There is a genuine belief that May is trying to distract viewers with her brightly-coloured suit, and a belief that it is right to vilify her for this. So yes, maybe we should have got used to this kind of content from the Mail by now. But it doesn’t mean it should stop making us sad.

 Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

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