Reporter asks politician super-sexist question, her response couldn't be better
It’s hard to see Tony Blair or Gordon Brown have to field a question about how much they weigh or what designers they’re wearing. But for female politicians, anything goes. There’s a reason Cecily Strong made the media repeat after her during the most recent White House Correspondent’s Dinner, “I will not talk about Hillary’s appearance…because that is not journalism.” That standard should apply to covering all women; one’s BMI doesn’t alter the ability to affect change.
Unfortunately, The Daily Mail wasn’t listening. During an interview of British Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall, a reporter asked her how much she weighed.
Kendall didn’t take it lying down.
In an excerpt from the article (which also spends a fair amount of time discussing Kendall’s outfit and fashion choices), Simon Walters, The Daily Mail’s political editor, wrote, “In fact she looks the same weight as the Duchess—about 8st—though when I ask she slaps me down with a raucous ‘f*** off!’ adding quickly: ‘Don’t print that.’”
Honestly, we’re glad they did print it, because her response is right on.
Later, when interviewed by BBC 5 Radio Live, Kendall went further in voicing her displeasure at the insulting and irrelevant question.
“Can you imagine the Mail on Sunday asking the weight of the prime minister, George Osborne, or any other leading politician?” Kendall asked. “I just think it’s unbelievable that in the 21st century women still get asked such very, very different questions from men,” she continued. “I cannot wait for a world when women are judged the same as men and not by those kinds of questions.”
This kind of trivializing behavior can be seen across industries in any profession where women are visible; Scarlett Johansson, Anne Hathaway, and Emma Stone (to name a few) have all been lauded for their pushback during interviews of sexist questions about how much they diet and weigh while their male counterparts get asked serious questions about their craft.
Women are on to it, and they’re tired of sexist media coverage more focused on what they look like than on what they do. And while covering female politicians, it would serve reporters well to remember that these women are strong, smart, and determined enough to stand for public office. They aren’t going to stand for this.
(Image via YouTube)