Written by Jen Offord

In The News

May shouldn’t pretend to be one of the boys

When the PM dismisses sexism as “a bit of fun” she doesn’t just demean herself, says Jen Offord, she demeans all of us.

Photo by Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, via Wikimedia Commons.

Before our unelected Prime Minister threw us all to the wolves by triggering article 50 this week, she became front-page news for rather different reasons.

Earlier this week, the taste, morality and humanity vacuum that is the Daily Mail was responsible for a front page inviting us to judge a “leg-off” between May and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who were evidently flaunting their pins by sitting on some chairs while wearing skirts.

Still, at least when everything else is so confusing, you can rely on the Mail for consistency.

As those bastard remoaners/snowflakes/left-wingers/women/feminists/people who don’t want their daughters to grow up thinking they exist purely for the sexual gratification of men, were quick to point out how deeply offensive the front page was, the Mail’s completely impartial columnist and general offence-causer Sarah Vine helpfully chipped in that anyone concerned about the front page should “get a life”.

Though you hardly anticipate much in the way of balanced reason from a Mail columnist, it’s worth bearing in mind that, as the woman who actively chose to marry Michael ‘the people are bored of experts and indeed viable public education and judicial systems’ Gove, one assumes even she’s been unable to take herself seriously for at least the last 16 years.

You expect this from the Mail. After all, if we’re going to talk about rape culture, it’s sort of impossible not to mention the sidebar of shame and its bevvy of busty beauties, flaunting their pins, or pouring their curves into something or other/going about their lives wearing what they like. Sometimes doing their jobs – like Amal Clooney, noted human rights lawyer, who looks lovely in red, according to Wednesday’s offering – sometimes, just having a cup of tea.

Yes, it doesn’t seem so serious when it’s coming from a publication known for objectification, scrutiny and ridicule, all designed to undermine and undervalue women. Let’s not forget the Mail has been running Theresa May spank bank articles for years – even she has poured herself into a few choice garments from time to time.

But when it comes from a woman, at the expense of other women, to further her own pointless agenda, and when that woman is in a position of power? She not only betrays women, just as our only other female Prime Minister did, but she reveals her own sense of abject desperation.

“It’s just a bit of laugh, right? Well, even if you didn’t find it grossly offensive, let’s consider the evidence – does anything about May allude to a healthy or otherwise sense of humour?”

I can understand why Theresa May felt like she needed to make light of the furore. She will of course be painfully aware that the scrutiny she experiences is far greater than that experienced by her predecessor – after all, David Cameron was never advised to recline casually on a sofa in a pair of leather trousers for the sake of polling better.

May will be aware that the so-called ‘swivel-eyed loon’ contingent of her support base are not known for their progressive values. So her task is doubly hard because she must appeal to us as a woman, but also as a man. And it is the same for any woman in a position of power in a male-dominated profession.

The Prime Minister did not want to be likened to “screaming harpy” Harriet Harman, or “ball-breaking” Angela Merkel, so she became one of the lads instead – a man’s woman prepared to throw us all under the bus to protect herself.

It’s just a bit of laugh, right? Well, even if you didn’t find it grossly offensive, let’s consider the evidence – does anything about May allude to a healthy or otherwise sense of humour?

The Mail’s front page was no less sexist, misogynistic or belittling than any of the gratuitous and offensive celebrity ‘news’ items cynically designed to bump up their web hits. It is, of course, all of this that perpetuates the myth that women are not to be taken seriously, and perhaps you even have some sympathy for that view when it takes aim at Kim Kardashian and the like, but it’s this kind of media that is systematically crushing the self-esteem and self-worth of women and girls.

Whatever Theresa May goes on to say about women’s rights henceforth becomes completely redundant, because in taking aim at the Prime Minister and Scotland’s First Minister the Mail also told us, “It literally doesn’t matter what you achieve – we’re never going to take you seriously.”

May’s response? “And that’s OK.”


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Written by Jen Offord

Jen is a writer from Essex, which isn’t relevant because she lives in London, but she likes people to know it. As well as daft challenges, she likes cats, cheese and Beyonce. @inspireajen