Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Apparently women “should be pleased” by male MPs' misogyny

parliament.jpg

Earlier this week, a female political journalist revealed that she had reported a male MP for addressing her as “totty”. 

Isabel Hardman, who is assistant editor at conservative magazine The Spectator, tweeted that she had been unsure about whether to go public with the story after the unnamed MP told her, “I want to talk to the totty” in the Westminster lobby. 

“Have been thinking about whether or not to tweet about it, but actually that is NOT on and lobby women shouldn't have to put up with it,” she wrote on the social networking site. “So I have passed the MP's name on to a whip. I don't betray sources. But I will betray sexists.” 

Later, she posted another tweet saying that the MP had been reprimanded and was "v. contrite” [sic].

Hardman tweets

Isabel Hardman's tweets.

But according to the Daily Mail's associate politics editor, Hardman “should have been pleased” at the attention. Isabel Oakeshott wrote that she thought Hardman was wrong to complain to whips over a “trivial incident”. Oakeshott is also the co-author of the David Cameron biography in which it was alleged that the PM once put a "private part of his anatomy” into a dead pig's mouth, 

She added that the relationship between MPs and political journalists would be undermined if journalists went public with MPs' “off the record" remarks, and appeared to suggest that female journalists could use their gender to their advantage, writing: “If a handful of male MPs are a little more forthcoming because we wear skirts, who are we to complain?”

Oakeshott

The Daily Mail's Isabel Oakeshott said that Isabel Hardman should have taken the MP's comments as a compliment.

Like politics itself, political journalism is overwhelmingly dominated by men. Less than a quarter of MPs in the House of Commons are women; similarly, data obtained by The Guardian in 2013 revealed that only 23 per cent of parliamentary lobby journalists are women.

And plenty of female journalists have similar stories to Hardman's. Earlier this week, radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer said that a Tory MP repeatedly placed his hand on her knee at an event when she was political editor at the Sunday Express.

She told Sky News: “The third time I removed his hand and said it is very simple, either you don't put your hand on my knee again or I am going to punch you in the face.” She added that there were “quite a lot of grey areas” regarding appropriate behaviour in the House of Commons. 

Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman said that Hardman had “done exactly the right thing” in reporting the MP. She wrote on the Channel 4 website: “So many of us have been forced to put up with sexism in Westminster – the lascivious texts from a well-known peer; the ‘noble Lord’ whose hand found its way to my bottom in a crowded bar; and the select committee chairman who assumed I was a secretary because I was the only woman in the room.

“I never complained about any of it when I was working in the lobby five years ago. But I wish I had. It reflects badly on me that I didn’t.”

Pictures: iStock, Rex Features

Related

dwlm.jpg

Why IS Louise Minchin still in the 'inferior' seat?

HiRes.jpg

Should we stay in the European Union?

12592352_10153826035400406_1399462900220296826_n.jpg

Woman's message on how we dress and sexual harassment goes viral

david-cameron-uk-prime-minister.jpg

David Cameron on a day in the work life of a Prime Minister

ThinkstockPhotos-187401190.jpg

“Attractive women are more likely to succeed” A debate on body image

509328920.jpg

“Fewer women should be allowed to train as doctors” says academic

vote.jpg

Why feminists should vote ‘remain’ in the EU referendum

Diane-abbott-david-bailey.jpg

Labour MP Diane Abbott on the politics of hair

310_tablet_womens_equality_LEAD_v1.jpg

Just who are the Women’s Equality Party and what do they stand for?

Comments

More

Pippa Middleton’s wedding: all the pictures

The gown, the guests, the royal bridal party

21 May 2017

Gal Gadot explains why the new Wonder Woman is a feminist film

"People have a misconception about what feminism is"

by Moya Crockett
19 May 2017

Robin Wright is still receiving less pay for House of Cards role

She believed she was awarded the same pay as Kevin Spacey in 2016

by Jasmine Andersson
18 May 2017

“How renting out my spare room changed my life”

Four women reveal the transformative experiences they had through Airbnb

by Amy Swales
18 May 2017

Jennifer Lawrence has the best response to leaked pole dancing video

“I'm not going to apologise, I had a BLAST"

by Sarah Biddlecombe
18 May 2017

Solange Knowles writes powerful open letter to her teenage self

The star has a few words to say on the power of the female

18 May 2017

So Geri Halliwell recreated the Wannabe music video all by herself

Viva forever, Ginger Spice

by Kayleigh Dray
18 May 2017

Ched Evans wants you to drink less to avoid being raped

Ask a Feminist despairs at the latest comments from footballer, Ched Evans.

by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
18 May 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Cannes Film Festival antics to Victoria Beckham's glam squad

by Nicola Colyer
18 May 2017

Ched Evans seriously just warned women about the dangers of drinking

Because – wait for it – “there are genuine rapists out there”

by Moya Crockett
18 May 2017