Thursday, 9 October 2014

Let's Lose the Loose Women

On tuesday I had come home from university to quickly finish some seminar prep and noticed Loose Women trending on twitter. Out of curiosity I clicked the link and straight away I was pissed off (shock). Loose Women is not a show I would watch and I certainly won't be doing following what I saw. I was too busy at the time with my studies and I've just had the chance to catch up: the episode I am referring to is from tuesday the 7th of october 2014, in the second quarter (watch it on itv player asap before it is taken down - a standard process after a few days of its being on the site). 
This is quite a messy/quick post as I'm very busy but it's been bugging me so I thought I'd get something written down.

Karen Danczuk is a labour councillor in Rochdale, who simultaneously runs a deli business and also brings up her children. She is a strong, hard working, balanced woman. There had been some debate regarding the "selfies" she posts on twitter, as to whether it was inappropriate for her cleavage to be showing. I'm gonna go ahead and say: no, it's not inappropriate. But her presence on the daytime tv show Loose Women was unfortunately rendered extremely negative, where it could have been a window of opportunity for empowering women.

Fucking first of fucking all, she was introduced as "Labour MPs wife and councillor for..." I mean CHRIST. Really, really? REALLYYYYY. Did you really introduce her as a wife first and her own profession second. Did that really happen. Did it. Did you wanna hire some men to help her walk onto the stage and pat her on the head "well done darling, you needn't worry your pretty little head about human experiences such as autonomy and independence"... I mean OK, ya, I get it, he's a labour MP. Cool. This isn't about him. We are all individuals. Not just "wives", associates of our (male) lovers. Please. It's 2014, please.

The conversation was hijacked quickly when what began with Danczuk explaining her experience "it's selfies, something that millions of people do every day" turned to her being quickly interrupted by Janet Street Porter and 90s/00s pop singer Jamelia. 

Jamelia made it very clear that she was ever so upset about Karen Danczuk's personal photographs because they are "quite often in a very low top". Granted, Karen Danczuk does seem to have breasts, Jamelia. You got her there. I can't believe it - how dare she? It's hard to believe that women these days would have breasts. Typical. 

PICTURED: Karen Danczuk, above, Jamelia, below.

That wasn't it though, with Jamelia interrupting again "the pictures are provocative though, not just every day selfies" which I thought was really strange because Danczuc had just been explaining that usually her selfies are when she has gotten dressed up to go out - hence not every day - but that also the papers had not been publishing her selfies in cycling gear or tracksuits as they would not suit their agenda (See tweet screenshot below of her proving this point). I was just confused because??? Jamelia??? She just said they were not every day?? But like?? Who cares?? More problematic for me, however, is Jamelia's use of the word "provocative". Provocative of what, provoking what? We're starting to edge on something a little darker here...

Even worse, for me, though was Janet Street-Porter and her declarance that Danczuk's selfies made her feel "ashamed", continuing to undermind Danczuk's "belief" that she could be "a role model to girls in Rochdale" as well as "getting your assets out on a Friday night and posting a picture". Are professional women robots? Must they remain in work mode 24/7? Must we insist on having breasts? Must we exist at all? Ugh #internalizedmisogyny

Janet Street-Porter decided that it was appropriate both for the format of the show, and for the topic of discussion to make a connection between A) professional women taking photographs with their breasts visible and B) sexual violence against children. I mean it's obvious, right?  "You’re a councillor in Rochdale and Rochdale has reached the headlines in a very unfortunate way firstly because of the allegations of child sex abuse and secondly in 2012 nine men went to prison for having sex with under age girls that they had groomed." The men from Rochdale and Oldham, who exploited girls as young as 13, were found guilty of offences including rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child. "The young women of Rochdale look to you to be a role model and I think you carry a responsibility as a female politician."

I mean this is just absolutely fucking disgusting and CHEAP to be quite frank. The underlying implication is that Danczuc should not be showing her breasts because then - as a female politican and therefore role model and therefore scapegoat - other young women from Rochdale will also have breasts, sorry, show their breasts, and this will lead to sex attacks. I mean that is absolute victim blaming and rape culture. It just is. And it's ridiculous and in relation to Danczuc and her selfies - irrelevant. Highly inappropriate of Janet Street-Porter and as I said: cheap. A way to try and bring shame and blame down onto Danczuc in a cheap/easy way.
Furthermore, to have said "they look to you to be a role model whether you like it or not" is absolutely ridiculous. Any public figure can be utilised or displayed as a role model and exploited or encouraged in such a way. You only have to look at all the shit people say about Rihanna to know that. (I don't see people complaining about Chris Brown as a role model for their sons but...) Anyone can be viewed as a role model. Jamelia "can I just stop you" interrupting Danczuc AGAIN to insist "you are in a position of influence and power". As if pop singers and day time tv presenters are not. You cannot attribute such a concept onto politicians - or "female politicians"- and not onto other public figures. Jamelia and Street-Porter are public figures themselves, Danczuc pointing this out. But Jamelia thought this was a "weak" move (oh, the hypocrisy) and that this was "shifting blame" - oh look, blame, interesting. What are we blaming Danczuc for, sorry?
I think that Karen Danczuc handled herself very well, keeping her cool, listening politely and adding important comments such as "we have to lose this idea that wearing a low cut top or short skirt you are a target" which young women and victims of sexual attacks everywhere need to hear. She continued "women of Rochdale are proud of me", again, important. Why shouldn't they be? She is working hard in their community and is a successful woman in politics - an achievement in itself. 
Must we constantly belittle women who are proud of their bodies? of course the main issue here is not necessarily what Karen Danczuk looks like, but the fact that she is autonomous in appreciating and sharing that. Selfies are often a target of criticism and I personally think it is only down to jealousy and internalized hatred. What is so bad about confidence, what is so bad about self love? And to respond "there's a fine line between that and arrogance though..." will only further prove my point. Internalized hatred. bad, very bad, woman must hate self, very crucial in capitalist and patriarchal society. Is it only okay to appreciate a beautiful woman when someone else has decided that this is the moment we appreciate her? I think not.
Surely, to have a show consisting of entirely female panellists, this should be at the forefront of loving women and promoting positive life messages for young girls everywhere. I do not expect to see a woman torn down for superflous reasoning. But then the show does go to waste, doesn't it? Last time it happened to be on tv while I was in the room they were discussing "the man's shed" and whether women have a "shed" in their marriage? I mean come on. Come on, now.


PICTURED ABOVE: two women (Karen Danczuk, left, Jamelia, right) being photographed whilst smiling in swimwear and also simultaneously having breasts. 
A spokesperson for Loose Women said: "Loose Women is a daily talk show centred around lively, topical debate and frank discussion. Opinions are expressed and exchanged from a mix of of viewpoints."
To get in touch with itv concerning the vile comments made within the show, particularly referring to the Rochdale sexual (paedophile) grooming rings in connection with what an individual is wearing, I have provided a link below with contact details.

1 comment:

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