Election sexism watch (episode 4)
Posted on April 12, 2010
It looks like it’s not just the Mail and the rest of the tabloids that are having a problem with how to refer to Miriam González Durántez. Here’s what the Times has to say about her for example:
“She is the wife of a politician, emphatically not a politician’s wife.”
“Excellent”, you’re probably thinking, “that’s more like it.”
And indeed it would be, if only someone hadn’t decided to title the piece:
Winning the vote, Nick Clegg’s wife is getting on with working life
And if the writers of the above quote hadn’t gone on to say:
“She is the wife of a politician, emphatically not a politician’s wife. Miriam González Durántez — Mrs Nick Clegg — has proved to be a huge election asset to the Liberal Democrat leader, simply by staying away.”
Still, at least Jan Moir has finally got the message. Here’s an extract from her latest “War of the Wives” piece:
“Miriam Gonzalez Durantez came out of her self-imposed political purdah at the weekend to join husband Nick Clegg on the campaign trail. Was this entirely wise?”
Shame about the racism though:
War of the Wives: Now pass me that boulder, compadre
Oh yes, and the sexism:
‘I know all the cows by name,’ said Miriam, in an aside to her husband which the television microphones picked up. Not the friendliest way, perhaps, to refer to her Sam and Sarah wifely rivals, but we all understand that these are testing times.”
And then of course, there’s this:
“Indeed, over another busy-bee weekend, unofficial Mrs Brown unofficially accompanied her husband to his Scottish constituency and also attended a women’s conference at Neasden Temple in North London.
There, walking barefoot on the red carpet as Hindu tradition demands, she proved that she is the kind of serious-minded woman who is too busy to stuff a mushroom or have a pedicure; practically the same thing, judging by the grim hooves on display.”
Which, just in case you missed it, relates to this abomination of an article that went up on the Mail site last night:
You’re supposed to put your BEST foot forward, Sarah: The Prime Minister’s wife exposes her rather unsightly toes during a visit to Temple
And which the Mail was flagging up on their front page with this:
Urgh! Just Urgh! I’m really beginning to wish I could just ignore the Mail. Unfortunately I can’t though, as it’s proving to be the main source of sexist shite* election coverage…..
Although, having said that, how about this one from the Daily Star:
Beware a dose of David Cameron
“VOTING for David Cameron is like sleeping with a tart in Amsterdam. There’s a slim chance it’d be great and a huge chance it could ruin your life. He will do anything to get you in bed with him – but he doesn’t care about you.”
Or this one:
Gordon Brown is the party leader women least want to snog
Or this one, from the Mirror:
‘David Cameron cutie’ Deborah Dunleavy had fling with boss
“A “Cameron Cutie” has been exposed for having a relationship with her boss behind her husband’s back.
Blonde Deborah Dunleavy, 47, who has been chosen by David Cameron to contest Bolton North East and campaigned with him last week, was caught with her boss Mark Summerfield by a private detective hired by hubby Michael Grisenthwaite, 46.”
Meanwhile, continuing with last week’s theme of “who really gives a shit what these women wear?” here’s Laura Craik, Fashion Editor of the Evening Standard:
Sarah and Sam give their grey men substance
“Here come the girls, all right, their eyes shimmering pools of devotion and their hands lovingly entwined in their husbands’. Were there ever two more perfect marriages than these?
And were there ever two more stylish women? For years, fashion was treated like the special needs subject on every national newspaper: a dumb interest for dumb people, tolerated by editors because of the sexy photo opportunities it trailed in its wake.
So it is gratifying that there now seems to be a genuine interest in what Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron are wearing, and an acceptance that, like their education or their career choices, their clothes are a valid part of who they are and what they stand for.”
According to The Centre for Women and Democracy, this media obsession with political women’s clothing choices is all down to one woman (it had to be a woman, didn’t it?), Vera Woodhouse, Lady Terrington, who was elected in December 1923 as the Liberal MP for Wycombe. Apparently Lady Terrington sued the Daily Express for “depicting her as a ‘vain, frivolous and extravagant women'” after it ran a profile of her under the headline ‘Aim If Elected – Furs and Pearls’.
“The case went to trial and she lost, mainly because of what she actually had said, but also because the jury took the view that what women in politics wore was a matter of public interest.
Vera Terrington lost her seat in 1924, and although she stood again in 1925 she was not successful. She disappeared into private life, but remains of note because of her libel suit, the outcome of which women politicians still have to live with today.”
So there you go: now we know who to blame for all this crap.
A reader, Jenny, emailed me about this next one, and while it’s not exactly an example of election sexism, or at least, it’s not in the same vein as all the “War of the wives” nonsense, well, I’ll let her explain the problem:
“On the Labour ‘Winning for Women’ website, they have a section on Labour Women’s History. Despite the rich and varied history of women in Labour, what they’ve actually done, is pick out two women – albeit pretty important ones – and write about them and them alone. From that page, one might imagine that there have only been two important women in the Labour party, ever.
Fair play for noting that there has been some history of women in Labour politics but, um, I do rather question the treatment of it.”
And here’s the link:
Or alternatively: Is that it? Is that really the best they can do?
And finally for this edition, in a slight change from the usual format, haven’t we been hearing some right old sexist shite from the Conservative Party in the last few days?
Ruth Sunderland in yesterday’s Observer, for example, has it spot on when she says that: The Tories’ marriage tax allowance puts women firmly back in the Fifties
and as for David Cameron’s attack on a woman’s right to choose:
David Cameron says abortion limit should be lowered
I think Kate said it best on Twitter:
*If you see any glaring examples of sexist shite during the General Election campaign that you think I may have missed, feel free to email them to me at cathryne_1999 at hotmail.co.uk
It’s disgusting that women are still being degraded this way. I guess there are some men who are so insecure that they can’t bear the thought that a woman is just as intelligent and capable.
And were there ever two more stylish women?
Well yes, almost certainly. Vivienne Westwood? Missy Elliot? Isabella Blow? Mary Quant? (tries in vain to think of more fashion icons, you can tell it’s not my forte).
All dress(ed) more interestingly/inventively/stylishly than S. Cameron and S. Brown, no offence who are frankly dull. Most people I know dress a bit more funkily than that pair. WTF has it got to do with the state of the country though? I’m sorry but it’s going to take more than a cardigan and a pair of converse to convince me people. Can’t Sam (or even better Dave) don some DM’s and vintage bondage trousers or something? Punk’s not dead, and if you want me to vote for clothes, you’re going to have to up your game seriously.
NB Cath: more hideous frocks. It reminds me of the late Bel Littlejohn’s remark about the *blair babes* that never has so much Wallis and Monsoon been seen in one place.
*Waits for Elaine to tell me off again*
Thank you for going through this nonsense- I’m not sure I could bear to read it all through!
We got a little of this when Obama was running- apparently sleeveless dresses are the most daring thing America has ever seen.
Hey Fran, great to see you on here 🙂
Polly – yep, I saw that piece. I’m now considering buying this week’s Grazia so I can see the full article in all it’s glory.
But then again, maybe not.
Thanks Aine. Yes, we saw a lot of the coverage that was given over there to women during the presidential election. I was kind of hoping we’d see an improvement on that during our election, especially as there was so much criticism about how Michelle Obama and Hilary Clinton in particular were portrayed.
But as you can see. We haven’t.