On the eve of Prime Minister Theresa May triggering Article 50 as the beginning of the UK’s Brexit journey, the Daily Mail has surprised and some-what stumped us here at the National Centre for Diversity, with a headline which does nothing more than reduce two powerful political figures, who happen to be female, to the same level of meaningfulness of a 1950’s pin-up girl!
As reported by The Guardian, the Daily Mail’s coverage of the meeting between Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon begins with a headline that is meaningless, sexist and possibly even offensive to those involved, reading ‘Never-mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!’, this seems to have been met with outrage from the British public.
Many political figures have condemned the column written by Sarah Vine, including Labour MPs Harriet Harman, Yvette Cooper and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In recent times, we have seen much more public noise being made by MP’s backing a variety of calls for equality, diversity and inclusion, but in one fell swoop Vine’s column has reduced the political arena to something akin to a magazine’s ‘Who wore it best’ feature. Once again, we are reminded that the Media play a monumental role in the way that women are discussed both publicly and privately and how they are ultimately portrayed and therefore viewed.
The National Centre for Diversity, and all those organisations that we work with, are working tirelessly to promote Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement for everyone. The Media in general are often quick to report on outrage, controversy and comment on actions undertaken by other organisations, which are discriminative or seem unjust in any way. However, they seem to be showing very little progress or even concern to ensure that their own organisations are not simply perpetuating and repeating the very same behaviours, biases and understandings of people, and in particular the way in which women are treated by the industry.
It is possible that had the column featured two male politicians their photo would likely have resulted in as detailed an annotation of the image as Vine does in her piece – the singular difference is that is unlikely Vine or any other reporter or columnist would have bothered to comment on who had the most exciting pair of socks, or whose ankles were maybe showing just a little.
However, whilst the headline can be viewed as “a bit of fun”, “a daft pun” and piece to “run alongside items of more serious political analysis” as Vine says in her follow up piece, if this is the case, it does make you wonder why the Daily Mail chose to use this particular approach as their front page piece. Perhaps it would not have received such a backlash if readers and the general public had actually seen it alongside a more serious political piece.
Moving forward, we as the National Centre for Diversity recognise that there is more than one way to view the headline and the column’s content, and however you choose to view the piece we will continue to work with organisations and try to make the world a fairer and more equitable place for everyone.