The obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre found itself once more accused of routine sexism, and gratuitously objectifying women, this week in the aftermath of Young Dave’s jolly good cabinet reshuffle. Selecting only the younger female new recruits to Government, the Dacre doggies went over the top as they talked of the “Downing Street catwalk”.
Behold the arbiter of what constitutes acceptable behaviour
This was compounded by calling the likes of Esther McVey and Liz Truss “girls”, although they are 46 and 38 respectively. There was leering talk of “thigh flashing”. Ms McVey is then reported to suggest the Mail’s behaviour is fine, because she “has laughed off her new title of Queen of the Downing Street catwalk as 'fine if it inspires girls to go into politics'”.
There was much mockery of the Mail: Nick Clegg Tweeted a photo of his outfit the following day with the comment “What I wore to the office today. Fingers crossed the Mail approves. Hope I don’t look too ‘80s cabin attendant’”. Becky Barrow, leaving the Mail for pastures new, said “One thing that I will not miss about working for the Mail: unspeakably awful and demeaning spreads about women”.
Cheryl Gillan was appalled: “I sat at the breakfast table with my male colleague, saying I cannot believe we have all these exciting politicians into key positions and what people are talking about it is what they are wearing, their makeup, how tight their jacket is and what their shoes look like. I think it's just insulting. In the same way, when I left office, I was very cross with the media treatment”
Yes, the Mail was made the butt of jokes across the political spectrum. How to respond? Simples. It’s Friday, so it’s the deeply unpleasant Jan Moir, the Glenda to end all Glendas. “Call me sexist, but women's clothes DO matter!” she harrumphed. “What an utter disgrace against taste, against humanity, among all the hard-fought gains women have made over the centuries” she blethered. It is? How so?
“I’m talking about Liz Truss pairing black shoes with a blue handbag. Has the woman gone mad? It’s as if Accessorize and the concept of tasteful mix-and-match had never happened ... the fact of the matter is that women are extremely interested, not to say fascinated, by what other women wear. I know I am”. Well, that’s telling me, and no mistake. And, as the man said, there’s more.
“Just look at Penny Mordaunt, an MP for whom I have enormous admiration, sailing into No 10 in a fabulous dress like a magnificent purple ship. I felt like cheering; her dress was so modern, perfect, appropriate — and just a little bit joyous, too. It said something about Mordaunt, something rather life affirming. And what is wrong with that?” So that means more of those “unspeakably awful and demeaning” spreads.
The Daily Mail approves of its own behaviour. Isn’t that a remarkable coincidence?