The reality is that the appearance of women in politics is under constant scrutiny. But it’s rarely so explicitly spelled out as by Spanish newspaper 20 Minutos, which carried out an internet survey asking readers to rank the world’s female politicians on their ability on their “beauty”.
Ultimately, women are already disempowered in politics. You only have to look at the data on the percentage of women in parliaments around the world to see that women’s representation is lagging dramatically – and that doesn’t even address the underrepresentation of women in cabinet level/ministerial level positions. Women who have won power have usually fought an uphill struggle to get there.
The UK is 51st on that list, with not even 20% of Commons seats held by women. There are only two ethnic minority women MPs.
So, what those MPs really, really need is some Daily Mail journalist analysing how he doesn’t find them attractive. Right. And, of course, it’s a good excuse to post photos of loads of female politicians from across the world in bikinis (or, in one case, apparently topless with Photoshopped out nipples).
It’s full of gems like this:
Miss Harman, while undoubtedly feminine, goes to great lengths to appear non-sexy. She would regard it as fatal to play up that side of things – it would undermine her credibility. That is true of many of our Westminster women. They have drunk deep at the feminist well. Most of them used to read Spare Rib long before they looked at Hansard.
The story even stoops so low as to criticise the looks of Gwyneth Dunwoody, who died last year.
Other choice comments: patronisingly saying that Theresa May is a “bright parliamentarian” (would he call any male MP “bright” like that?); speculating over Ruth Kelly’s swimwear; describing the female politicians who were listed in the “ranking” as “gamine”… really, there’s so much wrong with this story it’s hard to know where to start.