There are currently 15 female world leaders with England, Scotland, Wales and Germany all run by women. Yet, women are still subject to gender objectification.
This morning, one of Britain’s leading newspapers published a front page headline “Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!” next to a photograph of England’s Prime Minister, Theresa May and Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
The Daily Mail published the sexist headline about the two female leaders who met to discuss Brexit, and Scotland wanting a second referendum. Yet the writing focused more on the ladies clothing instead of the current issues facing the UK.
As tweeted by former Labour leader Ed Miliband “the 1950s called and asked for their headline back.” The story begs the question, why is everyday sexism okay, and further, why are women in power, wearing skirts, such an issue?
It’s 2017. This sexism must be consigned to history. Shame on the Daily Mail. pic.twitter.com/V3RpFSgfnO
— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) March 27, 2017
— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) March 27, 2017
The Mails response to the backlash? Critics need to get a sense of humour and just get over it. But is posting a front page headline with a focus on political leaders legs something to be laughed at?
One of the most shocking parts about this story isn’t actually the headline, but rather the woman behind it. Sarah Vine, wife of former Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, wrote the 500-word piece which described, in detail, the women’s appearances and style.
She wrote, “there is no doubt that both women consider their pins to be the finest weapon in their physical arsenal. Consequently, both have been unsheathed.” She continued to add that the PM, had “famously long extremities” which were “demurely arranged in her customary finishing-school stance.”
She went onto present the First Minister, as the opposite. “Sturgeon’s shorter but undeniably more shapely shanks are altogether more flirty, tantalisingly cross, with the dominant leg pointing towards her audience. It’s a direct attempt at seduction.”
As if it wasn’t hard enough for female MPs to get recognition for their achievements in a male dominated profession, now they have to deal with backlash from other women.
Women are often seen as inferior to men when it comes to the workplace, and are treated accordingly. Yet it’s female politicians who have to face their authority being publicly undermined by news organisations commenting on their appearances, instead of their policies.
Now that a tabloid has once again objectified women in power, the question is when will the line be drawn on sexism and when will these comments be seen as abhorrent and not something to just “get over.”