The Daily Mail has been accused of sexism — yet again — for a front-page image of British and Scottish Prime Ministers Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon focused on their legs. The large-font headline? “Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!”
Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn commented “shame on the Daily Mail” and Parliament member Ed Miliband tweeted, “The 1950s called and asked for their headline back.”
The Daily Mail defended its front page by calling it “light-hearted” and noting it typically discusses politicians’ appearance, “including Cameron’s waistline, Osborne’s hair, Corbyn’s clothes – and even Boris’s legs,” the BBC’s Neil Henderson reported on Twitter.
The Mail spokesperson wrote, “For goodness sake, get a life!”
“Is there a rule that says political coverage must be dull or has a po-faced BBC and left-wing commentariat, so obsessed by the Daily Mail, lost all sense of humour…and proportion?”
It's 2017. This sexism must be consigned to history. Shame on the Daily Mail. pic.twitter.com/V3RpFSgfnO
— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) March 27, 2017
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) March 27, 2017
— Neil Henderson (@hendopolis) March 28, 2017
A spokesperson for IPSO, the UK press regulator, told iMediaEthics by e-mail that it has received about 900 complaints, “with most of them relating to Clause 12,” which concerns discrimination. iMediaEthics asked if either Sturgeon or May, or their representatives, complained, but IPSO said, “our policy is not to comment on who has made a complaint.”
For her part, May brushed off the matter, noting “I think that most people concentrate on what we do as politicians. But if people want to have a bit of fun about how we dress, then so be it.”
May told the Express and Star, “As a woman in politics throughout my whole career, I have found that very often what I wear, particularly my shoes, has been an issue that has been looked at rather closely by people.”
Meanwhile, Sturgeon’s spokesperson said in a statement to iMediaEthics:
“It is slightly surprising that when the First Minister of Scotland and the Prime Minister of the UK meet to discuss the key issues of the UK’s departure from the EU, and giving the people of Scotland a choice over their future, the main focus should be on their legs and what they are wearing.“Brexit may risk taking Britain back to the early 1970s – but there is no need for coverage of events to lead the way.”
iMediaEthics has written to representatives for May and Sturgeon to ask if they plan to complain or have been in contact with the Mail over the front page. We’ve also contacted the Daily Mail for a response to the criticism.