The U.K. Daily Mail is in hot water with for running a photo of U.K Prime Minister Theresa May and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that included the two political leaders' legs.
May and Sturgeon were sitting down and gabbing in Glasgow about Brexit (most Scots oppose) and Sturgeon's hints that Scotland could declare independence if May lets the Brits go ahead with their desire to leave the EU (she has). Both ladies, despite their sharp political differences, were attired in the kind of stylish and elegant professional-wear that female politicians in Europe do so well and that female politicians in America ought to aspire to. Both outfits included knee-length pencil skirts that, as we females all know, ride up a few inches above the knee when the wearer is seated.
Most of the media photos of the confabbing pair were carefully cropped at the knees to look like this one in the U.K. Telegraph. Not so for the cheeky, celebrity-obsessed Daily Mail, which ran this uncropped photo on its front page, together with the tabloid screamer-headline. "Never Mind Brexit–Who Won Legs-It!"
And indeed, those ladies were showing a lot of gam, and quite shapely gam at that, since both ladies have very nice figures–and very nice taste in stilettos. A lighthearted inside column by Sarah Vine added insult to those injured by this sort of thing with a headline (since changed): “Finest weapons at their command? Those pins!”
Oh my! Here's the report from the liberal–and duly outraged–U.K. Guardian:
Among the first to criticise the front page as sexist and offensive were the Labour MPs Harriet Harman and Yvette Cooper. Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, labelled the paper “utter scum” and urged anyone who spotted a copy of the Mail to rip it up The former Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted: tweeted: “The 1950s called and asked for their headline back.”
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, echoed their condemnation, saying such attitudes should be “consigned to history”.
A column by the Guardian's Owen Jones was even more scathing:
The newspaper’s decision to objectify the legs of the country’s most prominent female politicians – focusing on what they look like rather than what they stand for – represents one of its many lows. But while it should be mocked, parodied, ridiculed, it should terrify us: because it is indicative of what is happening in Brexit Britain….
But there is something far more sinister about this front page. Britain is now in the throes of a national counter-revolution. Thought Brexit was all about Britain’s relationship with the EU? It wasn’t even just about immigration. While millions who voted leave had multiple, complex reasons for their choice, the most bigoted elements of British society decided that the referendum presented them with a mandate.
The New York Times chimed in, with a story headlined "Daily Mail Compares Two U.K. Leaders–Their Legs, Not Their Ideas."
And Amelia Womack, deputy leader of Britain's Green Party, formally reported the Daily Mail to the country's press regulators, the Indepedent Press Standards Organisation, accusing the tabloidt of violating a code provision stating that editors must “avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability”.
I'm sorry, but I thought Sturgeon and May, legs, stilettos, and all, looked great. They demonstrated that middle-aged women can look as attractive as their younger counterparts without sacrificing their dignity, professional appearance or age-appropriateness in dress. As I said above, American women politicians could take a leaf from their book. And isn't it nice that you can still be regarded as objects of "sexism"?
And I might point out that if you don't want people noticing your legs, wear a long full skirt. So take a chill pill, outraged feminists.
It's heartening to know, also that the Daily Mail isn't backing down.
The newspaper issued a statement saying, "Is there a rule that says political coverage must be dull or has a po-faced BBC and left-wing commentariat, so obsessed by the Daily Mail, lost all sense of humour… and proportion?"