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‘Light-hearted’ political coverage of women shouldn’t be an excuse for sexism

Journalist and researcher Fiona McKay was invited to write an article on the media’s representation of women in politics as part of NUJ Scotland’s Stronger Voice for Women in the Media project.  She will be speaking at the project event next Wednesday April 19 (6-9pm).  She writes mainly for the Herald and Times Group and is a postgraduate researcher at the University of Strathclyde, looking at gendered media representations in Scottish politics.  The aim of the Stronger Voice project is to improve representation of women working in the media and how women are represented by the media.

“Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!” said the Daily Mail’s staggeringly sexist front page, unabashedly splashing Theresa May’s and Nicola Sturgeon’s pins as the focal point in their coverage of talks about Brexit and a second Scottish referendum.

While there was a large degree of national outrage and media criticism (and rightly so), there was also an audible sigh and collective eye roll; surely as a nation, we should have moved on from this kind of gendered commentary, particularly around two of the UK’s top leaders?

As the Daily Mail later clarified in its second edition, this was supposed to be “light-hearted” take on the negotiations. Left-wing detractors were accused of lacking a sense of humour and “proportion”. Continue reading

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