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The Daily Mail - at least for England and Wales - reduced Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon to their pins yesterday. Accompanying a rather leg-oriented front page picture, the eternally asinine Sarah "Don't you dare accuse me of feminism" Vine felt the need to write a piece about how the legs of the Prime Minister and Scotland's First Minister were their greatest weapons in their ongoing wrangling over Scottish independence and Brexit. A "light-hearted" take on it all, according to the Daily Mail.
"Never mind Brexit, who won legs-it?" was emblazoned across the front page.
Nothing screams "serious journalism" like a line that is basically the world's creepiest Dad joke.
It was just like the time the Mail reported on the peace agreement between Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak back in 2000 and Sarah Vine wrote that hilarious piece about who had the firmest arse in the Middle East. Or her witty ode to Putin and Obama after their awkward handshake in Lima last year in which she declared each man's biceps would be used to forge a bold new relationship between their countries.
Except that never bloody happened. Instead, Sarah Vine wrote a parody-defying load of tripe for yesterday's paper, the journalistic equivalent of taking upskirt photos on a tube station escalator. She came across like a sex pest. Well played, sister!
The Daily Mail issued an explanation. It was just a joke and, anyway, we did loads of serious coverage on Brexit! Bags of it! The crazy feminists clearly need to lighten up!
Except that every time female politicians are belittled, reduced to their body parts, when their legs or their tits or their clothes or their hair or their faces are the focus, not their policies or ideas, it makes it that little bit harder to encourage smart women to enter politics. And it makes it that little bit harder for women in general to be taken seriously.
The Mail's explanation also pointed out that they're an equal opportunity body snarker - they've also run photos of David Cameron looking a bit portly while on holiday, that sort of thing. Er, yeah. Two things, Dacre. Firstly, it's still gross to reduce male politicians to their body parts too. Secondly, even when the Mail runs such nonsense, it's not usually tied to the biggest political story of the week. The coverage when men do politics is far more respectful.
Of course, plenty of right-wing anti-feminist apologists piped up with their latest lame zinger. "Why are women angry about this when there is FGM and IS is making Yazidi girls and women sex slaves?". Er yeah. Two things, dickheads. Firstly, IT IS POSSIBLE TO CARE ABOUT MORE THAN ONE THING AT A TIME EVEN WITH OUR LITTLE LADY-BRAINS! Secondly, when you are the same people who would deny foreign aid to help stop FGM or to offer shelter, healthcare and employment training to Yazidi girls and women, you are monstrous hypocrites with zero right to tell women how to do feminism.
And when women are belittled out of putting themselves forward as leaders because of the constant sexist noise over which they must shout to be heard, there won't be as many women in positions of real power who are able to stand up for oppressed women everywhere.
In any case, the "Never mind Brexit, who won legs-it?" debacle, it really is a microcosm of the Daily Mail/Daily Express/Sun mentality on the issue of leaving the European Union. The one-liner encapsulates perfectly the simplistic Brexiter mentality, the one where self-serving con artists like Nigel Farage convince people that there is nothing to worry about, that the process of making trade deals and sifting through EU law will be a piece of cake. These people say without irony that it could all be sorted out in a month. These people are irresponsible idiots who make Britain a dumber place.
Worse, it reflects the mentality of the right-leaning Brexiter of not wanting to take any actual responsibility for the whole shit-show - they do not want to acknowledge the inevitable problems it has caused and will cause and they do not want to do any of the tedious dirty work involved in ensuring leaving the EU doesn't reduce Britain to a joke nation.
Nope, these pathetic dinosaurs are the deluded fools who voted to leave because of some misguided notion that it was better in the good, old days, even though the good, old days were, frankly, a bit shit. But, hey, at least back then, we could all could openly ogle a woman's legs in peace without those feminazis getting upset, am I right...
Image: European Parliament/Flickr