Thursday, 5 April 2012

Brick Breaker: The Daily Mail and anti-feminism

The latest viral sensation, the self-inflicted wound caused by Samantha Brick's absurd piece on the marginalisation of attractive women, has provoked a ton of reactions. The most interesting of which is Hadley Freeman's piece in the Guardian, placing it within the wider context of The Mail exploiting its female writers:

The general motto of the Daily Mail seems to be that a woman's role in life is to be pretty, thin, get married, quit work, have children and, ideally, disappear or die before getting embarrassingly old and fat (it is no wonder the paper loved Diana so much.)
To me the backlash is against the style and subject of the piece, rather than its central thesis. I can imagine there's an interesting article waiting to be written in the pages of Vanity Fair or the New York Times in a 'What is it about 20-somethings?' vein that discusses the ways in which attractive women are patronised and regarded as generally stupid. But taking such a narcissistic tone and littering the article with pictures of yourself will cause a few people to choke on their morning corn flakes. And the author's response to the 'criticism' (if you can call it that) hasn't exactly been graceful.

I ummed and aahed about whether or not to write something on this because as a fourth post on a blog which is ostensibly about serious things, I consider this 'story' to be a fairly trashy one, at least so long as it's approached from the perspective of Samantha Brick as some kind of sacrificial lamb or some effigy of Narcissus to be burned on the pyre of viral media. I think more interesting is its demonstration of The Mail's general use of its female columnists. The last time I remember the Twitternet getting so collectively angry about a piece from the Mail it was an arguably more vapid piece in which Liz Jones retraced the steps of the murdered Bristol student Joanna Yeates. From what I read of The Mail it exhibits a clear tendency to use its female writers to be mouthpieces for its general editorial message that women are vacuous non-thinkers who half-blog about celebrities and their clothing and half-blog about what serious news stories 'mean to them.' It's a trashy propaganda pamphlet and seems unable to do a single story that isn't run through some kind of right-wing 'on yer bike' ideological filter. Best left alone, in other words.

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