Guest post: Woman-friendly news?

Lindsey M Sheehan longs for a newspaper that doesn’t alienate female and feminist readers…

I’m starting to realise that there is no such thing as a woman-friendly newspaper. At one end of the scale are the porn tabloids offering “twenty times more boobs than The Sun”, somewhere in the middle is the self-esteem crushing Daily Fail, and at the safe-to-view-without-snorting-cornflakes end I place leftie papers like the Guardian and Independent. I favour for the mix of news and opinion.

On Wednesday morning, two articles on the Indie website caught my eye: Sir Alan, Sexism and the Workplace and Blonde Parade lifts spirits in Latvia.

In the first, Johann Hari discusses the Equality Bill in the context of The Apprentice, and is not afraid to criticise the general corporate attitude to women:

The Bill requires companies to calculate the gap between what women are paid and what men are paid in their organisation, and publish it. Some companies have squealed that their gap will be large, because their managers are overwhelmingly male, and their cleaners are overwhelmingly women. Well, yes. Do you think women are better suited to scrubbing than managing? Do you want to make that case to the public?

Excellent article, two thumbs up. But just a few clicks away is the Blonde Parade.

The article itself is a short and incredibly vague introduction to a series of pictures of women dressed like Barbie. Some shots are dangerously close to the “up-skirt” angle. The charity this is in aid of was not important enough to be named, though organisers hope to make it an annual event. Gathering this many young, thin blonde women implies a vetting process too, unless only the most attractive women were photographed. The most important thing is that they “put a smile back on the face of recession-weary Latvians” – I think they mean Latvian men.

So I have news outlet that supports a feminist author on one hand, and signs off on sexist fluff with the other. I don’t understand if this is because the powers-that-be are flakey, predominantly sexist but trying to please their feminist readers, or predominantly feminist but want to reassure their non-feminist readers. What I would like to see is some commitment. Cut the fluff. It’s beneath us all.

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