Daily Mail in “Women are Evil” shocker

It should come as no surprise to you that I despise the Daily Mail with every inch of my being. It’s exemplary of everything I hate in the world: right-wing tinfoil hat wearing paranoia, unabashed sexism, furious hatred of anyone not white, middle class and Christian, sloppy shock-journalism, Richard Littlejohn.

The Femail section is a particularly odious hive of half-arsed bollocks. It tends to feature fluffy articles about women looking “fat” in celebrity dresses, doom-laden articles about career women who LEFT IT TOO LATE to have children, and realised that actually, a baby was ALL THEY EVER WANTED but because they were 40 and therefore ‘past it’, ended up losing their legs and arms and teeth during childbirth. And of course, thinly-veiled attacks on Those Nasty Feminists.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s rant. Femail is currently running an article detailing how women are mostly competitive, jealous harridans eager to make each other look fat and ugly so they can look beautiful and young and therefore successful. It’s a typically nasty piece of journalism created to foster distrust among women – the idea that there is an epidemic of women habitually trick their friends into wearing ill-suited clothing sounds lifted straight out of The Devil Wears Prada. It’s a caricature of female friendships.

The author talks about her friend Jayne, who was one of these terrible witches and made her variously resemble Maggie Thatcher, a pottery teacher on day release (eh?) and a pregnant woman.  And to be fair, Jayne does sound like a nasty piece of work, assuming she really is as cutthroat and ruthless as the author purports. However, she also admits: “My fashion disasters continued, but they were now down to my own innate lack of style rather than any sinister ‘sisterly’ acts of sabotage”. A sentence which makes me wonder whether her poor clothing choices were really her own fault all along, with Jayne set aside as a convenient scapegoat. Who knows? I do know, though, that if women like Jayne do exist, they’re almost certainly influence by the kind of nasty, disparaging, judgemental articles peddled by the Mail and their ilk:

Britney Spears wear clothes we don’t approve of!

Kristen Stewart gets damp, looks ‘like a drowned rat’

Kim Kardashian looks pale and therefore ugly! (bonus hypocrisy points for the ‘dangers of tanning’ article sat alongside this one)

Kim Cattrall dares to look her age!

Kate Moss is hideous witch, die die die!

With these kind of articles becoming a daily feature in rags like the Mail and Sun, it can’t be any wonder that women like Jayne are supposedly on the increase. We’re practically force-fed the message that we must be prettier, thinner, better than other women, and that women who don’t fit the current ideal should be mocked and derided. But I’m not convinced we’re at that stage yet. I think a better explanation comes from the author herself:

I suspect the majority of us praise our friends’ clothes because we’re too kind – and cowardly – to be honest.

“We’d rather gasp ‘Wow!’ when a friend arrives at her 40th birthday party in unforgiving leggings than enquire: ‘Did you think you were appearing on the Jeremy Kyle show?'”

Because of this culture of superficiality, we’ve developed a society in which our good looks are sacred and so telling a girlfriend that her trousers are giving her a camel toe is now akin to calling her grandmother a whore – it’s just not the done thing.  Not when we can open up the Mail and laugh unashamedly at someone a little too fat, a little too droopy or pale or just different to ourselves.

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