I don’t make a habit of reading the Daily Mail, in fact I only do so when a justifiably outraged friend has sent me a link to some unusually extreme and unpleasant bigotry, most recently the “Homosexuality IS a departure from the norm: We must beware of our civilisation being battered by the PC brigade” opinion piece which charmingly referred to homosexuality as “an aberration” and compared it to kleptomania and a propensity to violence. The article has since been pulled but can still be read here.
Whenever (against my better judgement) I do click on a link to the Mail, when I’m finished being annoyed by the proudly chauvinistic writing in question, I’m always struck by the profusion of wholly gratuitous images of women in states of undress down the right hand side of the screen. Whilst I’ve got nothing against photos of attractive women, the sheer abundance of them in the Mail seems rather incongruous given that when I encounter prominent Mail writers such as Melanie Philips, Richard Littlejohn and Peter Hitchens on the TV or Radio, they often as not seem to be railing against ‘the permissive society’ the ‘sexual revolution’, ‘sleaze’ and most recently ‘sexualisation’.
This incongruity is heightened by the way that ‘liberal media’ outlets such as the Guardian and the Independent that the Mail so likes to blame for everything just don’t have anything like as much female skin on display. Sure, rarely does a heat wave pass without the Guardian and the Independent printing a shot of a photogenic woman enjoying the sun in a bikini and so forth, but despite their rampantly ‘permissive’ ways when it comes to “outrageous” “raunchy” images of “starlets”, the liberal media can’t hold a candle to the Mail.
Vexed by this apparent hypocrisy I searched the Mail’s site for ‘sexualisation’ and got 619 hits. The ones I checked were almost without exception both consumed with anger at sexualisation and liberally illustrated with ‘sexualised’ images of attractive young women with little on in ‘provocative poses,’ to an extent that I really don’t think can be justified by the off chance that the readers have never seen an image of Rihanna, Beyonce, Britney Spears or some other female celebrity trying to look sexy. Of the articles I looked through the worst offender was:
Is this what they mean by the ‘sexualisation of teenagers’? Taylor Momsen whips her young fans into a frenzy with lewd act
The ‘Daily Mail Reporter’ was simply outraged at “a raunchy show” performed by Taylor Momsen (who I must confess I’ve never heard of) in Barcelona the previous night. This expression of outrage was even more lavishly illustrated than usual with a scant 444 word article and 6 large images. I don’t mean to boast but I think I’d got a pretty good idea of what this concert was like and of Ms Momsen’s general appearance after a single photo, I’d certainly got the idea by the 2nd, so the following 4 really didn’t seem necessary.
I decided to do a little analysis of this article so screen capped the article and combined the images. Imported at 96dpi the entire body of the article ran to 133cm. Of this, 110cm (a not inconsiderable 82% of the body of the article) consisted of photos of Ms Momsen “herself only 17… gyrating on the lap of one of her fans as a group of half-dressed, similar aged girls were whipped into a frenzy behind her”.
As if that wasn’t enough, 60% of the huge number of articles (430cm worth) advertised with large thumbnails down the right side of the page, far beyond the end of the article, appeared to be sexual in nature. 88% of these seemed little more than flimsy excuses to show gratuitous photos of A to Z list celebrity women, the subject of the article often as not seemingly how sexually attractive the ‘starlet’ in question was or involving sex in some manner:
Carol Vorderman has worn the same dress more than once! If that isn’t an excuse for lots of leering photos what is?
6% of the articles seemed feeble excuses to show photos of attractive male celebrities.
Another 6% were about sex in some way but the thumbnails at least didn’t heavily feature ‘sexualised’ images.
Below is a shrunken image of the entire page. I’ve highlighted the ‘sexualised’ images of Taylor Momsen & other women in red, men in blue and articles about sex but without ‘sexualised’ images are highlighted in black, to give you some idea of just how much of this fine upstanding paper is given over to the very thing it campaigns against.
Another article; “Sexualisation of our children is a crime that is endemic in our celebrity commercial culture” contained the photo on the right with the following caption:
“Endemic: A Gucci Fashion advert, showing a half naked man, run in magazines, many of which are aimed at or accessible by children”
It’s a good job that Mail readers always lock their papers safely away from their kids and that you have to prove you’re over the age of 18 before you can browse the Mail’s website otherwise that complaint would seem somewhat lacking in self-awareness.
Given the Mail’s habit of not only wrapping itself in the flag but increasingly bearing a cross (with all its whining about the supposed “war on Christianity”) you’d have hoped that the thought might have occurred to someone on the Mail’s staff that they were getting perilously close to one of those mote in the eye situations warned of in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 7:1-5 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
But of course, as with all that is said in the bible about economic justice – rich men, heaven, camels, the eyes of needles and so forth – such passages are of no interest to the modern day champions of Christianity. No, apparently to them preventing civil marriage for homosexuals, about whom Jesus never so much as speaks a word in the bible, is what really matters.
“The death of innocence: How the crude sexualisation of pop music, TV and fashion is destroying childhood” warns:
“As children we quickly picked up that, for a woman, being thin and beautiful equals sexy and successful. In our lifetimes, we’ve seen the explosion of reality stars, WAGs and manufactured girl bands who have sent out the message that you can be rich and famous without an iota of talent.
As these celebrities have racked up continuous attention and impressive wealth — which reality TV has made seem within the grasp of everybody — have we also signed up to the idea that our daughters need to look a certain way to get on in life? …
From the moment our girls recognise their reflections in a mirror, we need to start teaching them beauty is a small part of what they are, not who they are. If we don’t, the price is high for our girls. We will be letting them fall into the traps today’s society has laid for them.
Eating disorders, self-harm, depression, casual meaningless sex, teen pregnancy and under-age drinking are just some of the side effects when girls judge themselves only by their appearance and sexual experience.”
All that said with images of “reality stars, WAGs and manufactured girl bands” and older stars being judged upon their fading looks down the side of the screen.
It’s like being given a lecture on the evils of deficit spending by Gordon Brown. The anguished author of that piece goes on to warn:
“As the first gatekeepers who most influence our children’s values, attitudes and aspirations, we also have to look to ourselves to work out how it reached this state of affairs.”
If you’re truly worried about this stuff and you read the Mail then perhaps you might like to consider if that’s a factor.