Comment | The role of women in politics
For attractive women in politics, a certain level of scrutiny is always expected. Politics do not always come first when the press is only interested in your wardrobe and you are trying to be heard in a male dominated world. Out of the 650 members of parliament there are only 146 female MPs, and this is probably why there has been so much cynicism at the promotion of Gloria De Piero to the position of shadow minister of women and equality. At 40 years old, she is still a relatively young member of parliament and has been hailed for her fashion sense.
In 2010, De Piero came clean about a set of topless photos she had posed for at the age of 15. Originally this caused a mild stir, but now it has been claimed that a national newspaper has offered thousands of pounds to a man in Bradford in order to obtain these photographs. It continues to sadden me that the interests of the press still revolve so intently on women’s body parts, and not their intellect or professions. De Piero is simply a women trying to perform her duties in a male dominated industry(and clearly doing it rather well), but the obsession with smut national newspapers seem to have means that this is becoming increasingly difficult. It is pointless, potentially damaging to a developing career and shows once again how being an intelligent, attractive women in politics gets you vilified by the media.
Fellow female constituents and columnists have lent support to De Piero as she tries to call off the hunt for the photos, with Louise Mensch stating the publication of these early images would shame the papers who printed them rather than De Piero herself. The men who took the pictures and then sold them on would also be shamed, but that goes without saying. However, sexism in the media and politics is a double edge sword. I an a young women, and I concede the fact that I have the ability to see sexism everywhere. This is clearly apparent in the story of MP Jo Swinson, who this week stated that a male MP giving up his seat for her because she was pregnant was “sexist.” If the rules around sexism are so flimsy and individually determined then how can we ever have a fair argument on what is acceptable?
Ms De Piero’s dignity and grace during this difficult time should be commended, and I agree completely with Menschs’ statements. But this is a debate that dates back to Adam and Eve. The majority of men are far more interested in how a woman looks that what she says, and unfortunately, sex sells. Sadly, until we all start walking round in minimiser bras without make up on, the press will continue to pick the bones of any story that involves a famous woman without her clothes on.