Heteronormativity, Sexism and Disrespect: The Mirror’s Attack on Women Must Not Be Ignored

The power of the tabloid press in the contemporary world is an undeniable truth. Though the outcome of the General Election in June signified the failure of tabloids, such as The Sun and The Daily Mail, to influence the vote as strongly as in past years, the monopoly they hold on both politics and society remains.

British voters materialised in their millions to cast a vote for May; millions materialised in a similar fashion to cast one for Corbyn and other smaller party leaders. This is something that was completely unprecedented: 39% of the vote for the Labour party was not something that the likes of Rupert Murdoch had anticipated. News Corp’s hold on the electorate appeared to slip overnight.

Still, society’s progressives have much to fight back against, as sexism in the tabloid press has proven itself to be alive and well once more. Last week, The Mirror’s Astrid Hall produced an article so absurdly old-fashioned, conservative and reductive that it resembled the obligatory joke articles published by newspapers on April Fools’ Day. However, it is not April, and this is not a joke. This is sexism at its finest; sexism in full form. Modern-day feminists and progressives alike have much to be concerned about: the fight must begin now.

Upon reading the title of the article, problems immediately arise: ‘The top 30 ways women ‘tell’ men they’re unhappy – and saying ‘I’m fine’ should not be taken at face value’. The fact that this article is, apparently, merely a compiled list of the top thirty entirely sexist signs of an ‘unhappy woman’ is a cause for concern. Is there such an abundance of these behaviours that the writer has been forced to shortlist the top thirty? To say this is concerning would be a complete understatement.

Members of and allies of the LGBTQ+ community commonly recognise that heteronormativity is everywhere: this being the constant spoon-feeding of straight, male-female relationships and their supposed ‘norms’ to society. This is a looming presence throughout the article, as it makes a broad generalisation of not only the way that women are supposed to behave, but also of their sexuality. According to this ‘journalist’, lesbianism and bisexuality do not exist. Every woman is straight, and every woman owes their husband or boyfriend attention, a perfect physical appearance, and undying love and affection.

The point is this: the tabloid press presents a very real threat. Society often laughs at the absurdity of some of the articles produced by its ‘journalists’, and yet continues to soak in the content it produces. Furthermore, thanks to the rising relevance of online journalism, readers can not only enjoy the reductive, conservative words of ‘journalists’ such as Astrid Hall in print, but also through the blaring whiteness of a screen. Joyous. Don’t engage in merely laughing at the bigotry of these writers: boycott their newspapers, cease to read them, absolutely do not buy them, and call out the perpetrators for their wrongdoings.

Eleanor Noyce, BA Politics

(Image courtesy of HUFFINGTON POST)