Looks, babies and hubbies are top of the agenda for the press’ portrait of female leaders - not policies.
There’s no question a man of Mrs Thorning-Schmidt’s standing would not have faced criticism for his looks and choice of hubby - in Thorning-Schmidt’s case, that was Neil Kinnock’s son and Labour MP Steven Kinnock. It’s long been a firm fact - female politicians get a rough deal, just how rough it is depends on the person and their policies.
Is it a surprise given such sexism exists that both Britain’s female Prime Ministers were removed from office by their parties? In the case of Margaret Thatcher, it was understandable that she needed removing as she supposedly brought about the destruction of British industry. But Theresa May was genuinely trying to see Brexit through, but had her party kept backstabbing her like Julius Caesar. A male politician like Boris Johnson trying to get Brexit done and dusted would not be subject to such Machiavellian machinery.
There are times when I do feel that some female politicians play the gender card. This was certainly the case of former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard who blamed her political removal from power by her party on sexism and misogyny. She even gave an impassioned misogyny speech to parliament about how Tony Abbott had stood next to a sign saying “burn the witch”.
Julia forgets that she backstabbed her way to power - she backstabbed Kevin Rudd and removed him from office. No one can trust a woman who has come to power like that - man or woman in fact. They have no integrity and she thus deserved being backstabbed and removed from power herself.
But I do think all these cases of female politicians and their sexist treatment by the press and fellow male politicians is symbolic of the rampant double standards that exist in politics today. If a man was to backstab, lie and cheat his way to the top, no one would bat an eyelid. When a woman does, she’s seen as a bigot.
We need to be honest about sexism in politics today and make sure to call out sexist treatment by the press. Like when Jacinda claimed no woman should have to justify their plans to have children. Good for her...
Meet Roshan Chandy
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
Roshan's Top 5 Films of the Week
1. A Quiet Place: Part II (in cinemas)
2. Cruella (in cinemas)
3. After Love (in cinemas)
4. Dream Horse (in cinemas)
5. Frankie (in cinemas)
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