Dear Daily Mail
I am writing regarding your front page on Tuesday 28th March which included a picture of Nicola Sturgeon and Teressa May with the caption ‘Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!’. I am aware that you have received much media attention and criticism regarding this matter and I wanted to take the time to express my deep concern for the message your newspaper is presenting.
When driving home from work today I heard commentary on the radio condemning the headline and the subsequent article that made similar comments including that their ‘pins’ were their ‘finest weapons’. I have to admit that I assumed that this was written by a man; it did not even enter my head that a woman would choose to objectify the two most influential women in Great Britain in this way. On my arrival home I learnt that this article was in fact written by a woman: Sarah Vine. I was appalled. I immediately questioned why a woman would choose to lead on this highly important story with this tone.
Your later attempt to passify the outcry fell on deaf ears; referring to Vine’s comments as ‘lighthearted’ emphasises your inability to give the public what we want. We do not want our politicians objectified and we do not want important news stories to be made light of. This is a turning point in British history and the public want facts and educated opinions rather than trivial, sexist comments. As a historian, it both upsets and worries me that making comments about female politicians’ bodies and clothes is printed in our national newspapers, let alone making headline news. As a high school teacher, it concerns me that young people are subjected to this media coverage. Young girls are suffering more than ever from a lack of body confidence and mental health issues due unrealistic media expectations: you have a duty of care to ensure that your coverage does nothing to exaggerate this growing problem. It is bad enough that, due in part to media coverage, young women and girls already have poor body confidence, without the issue being reinforced, or even amplified, by today’s message that no matter how successful you are as a woman, you will never be more than the sum of your body parts.
Your response to critics telling us to ‘get a life’ is appalling: listen to the public and hear our disgust, do not ignore us. Vine’s comment of ‘that’s just what’ tabloid newspapers do is equally ignorant: you can make the news more accessible without causing outcry and offence.
I have no doubt that you will continue to report the news in the blunt and obtuse way that you always do but please be aware that this will always be met with scorn and criticism.
The Gutsy Gay