Find the sexist news of the week

The General Election campaign is now well and truly underway and so is Fawcett’s campaign Views not Shoes. We, along with volunteers and tweeters across the country, are reading the papers, watching TV and listening to the radio, looking out for examples of sexist media coverage of the election.

Academic research on the 2010 election, presented to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sex Equality, showed that the leaders’ wives received more coverage, in words and pictures, than female politicians and candidates. That is, women with political views and opinions, who were standing for election to Parliament in their own right, received less coverage than the three women who happened to be married to the male leaders of the biggest parties.

This representation ignores the serious opinion and argument made by women and trivialises their contribution to shaping our future.

The 2015 election seems to be going the same way so far. Thursday 2 April saw two of the biggest ‘serious’ newspapers print a large front page photo of Samantha Cameron. The Metro newspaper gave readers a detailed run down of exactly what she was wearing.The same paper printed four other articles that day about male politicians and made no mention of their outfits.

The Daily Telegraph  ran a story about a Bristol BBC radio presenter who has been taken off the airwaves for the duration of the campaign as his impartiality was called into question due to him being engaged to local MP Charlotte Leslie. The choice of photos to accompany the story is telling and typical.

The presenter in question, John Darvall, is pictured in the BBC Radio Bristol studio in front of a microphone, basically doing his job. Ms Leslie is pictured in a suit. Not a business suit at the House of Commons, campaigning in her constituency or making a speech. No, in a swimsuit.

And then there’s the captions to accompany the photos. For Mr Darvall it’s ‘BBC Radio Bristol presenter John Darvall’. So far, so factual. For Ms Leslie the caption reads ‘MP Charlotte Leslie has been voted the sexiest woman in politics’. Is there a clearer example of the different standards and styles of reporting used for men and women in the media? We think it’s outdated and should stop.

This example is the kind of thing we are looking out for and we hope that people can help by bringing other examples to our attention.

The Fawcett Society will be doing a rigorous, academic analysis of the media coverage of women in this election and the results will be published after the hubbub of the campaign has died down.

Meanwhile, during the campaign, we want to highlight on twitter every sexist news story that appears, encourage as many people as possible to tweet examples they see and retweet other stories. We hope to shame the papers who print this nonsense into just not doing it any more.

There may be no sexist coverage to report next week but that’s perhaps wishful thinking. So please keep an eye on hashtag viewsnotshoes during the next week. Tweet your own examples or, if you’re not on twitter, email us at and we’ll round up the coverage on our next blog.



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