Take, for example, ‘Are women jealous of other women’s successes?’ I know that Katie Hopkins is the media-confected pantomime villain of the masses but she still gets my goat so much. She says that women are ‘really vicious’ and ‘really jealous’, and that she, in contrast, ‘operates like a man’ because she is more ‘rational’. This is stupid on so many levels. Only men can be rational in Katie Hopkins’ world, unless you are in fact Katie Hopkins. She says women in the workplace have a ‘constant barrage of jealous women trying to pull them down’. Eamonn isn’t exactly helping things either, joking that he wants a ‘catfight’ and for ‘bitchy’ women to get in contact with their thoughts. For ITV to show this kind of shite is exactly what it does not need – it’s discouraging to professional women and to women in general, stereotyping them as ‘bitchy’ and ‘jealous’. The Twitter hashtag for the debate,’#jealouswomendebate’, leaves no question of how sexist this is. It’s just so crap and outdated. As I've said before: this is 2013, people!
Other gems include ‘Why do men cheat?’ a debate which implies that women can only be victims of infidelity and not perpetrators, something we all know to be total, unadulterated balls. There are also debates concerning what is ‘appropriate’ for a woman, as though Eamonn Holmes or Phillip Scholfield have any right to decide. ‘Is the tanned look still fashionable?’ barely manages to be something even worth discussing and ‘Should women over 40 stop wearing bikinis?’ makes its mistake from the very first word. There is no ‘should’ here, but God does William Hanson ‘etiquette expert’ try and find one. He obviously considers himself to be the epitome of politeness and charm, but fails when he says in all earnestness, ‘Some women think their bodies are better than they actually are, they’re deluded.’ This is followed by ‘I’m all for equality’ – are you really though, William? Only Ruth Langsford, Eamonn’s wife and co-presenter, speaks sense here, asking if her fifty-year-old arms offend him. Even William’s opposition, Nancy Dell’Ollio, focuses solely on appearance (mostly her own), never questioning the suggestion of a blanket rule for what a woman should or shouldn’t display of her body. It's not just old-fashioned, it's also proper shit.
You may be thinking that I have now ploughed the depths of all the inane and fetid anti-feminist rubbish that This Morning has to offer, but you are wrong. Allow me to introduce you to the ‘love or money debate’, our negative piece de resistance.
This non-issue wasn't actually about love or money at all, but whether it is acceptable for a woman to date a man who earns less than her. What is there even to debate here? Of course it is. Plenty of women do. It’s hardly the most unusual thing in the world and it’s not even a choice between love and money. The title implies that a woman starts a relationship with a man to receive love or money, and can’t possibly provide either herself, being instead just a passive recipient of man-love or man-money. Lizzie Cundy, famed for being a WAG, does the talking on this one, arguing that a man is emasculated by having a lower salary and that it will cause problems in a relationship. It is like asking, ‘Can a woman get a first if her boyfriend got a 2:1 in his degree?’ or ‘Is it ever okay for a girl to run faster than a boy?’
Both of which are probably topics for next week.
To perpetuate the idea that a man should always make more than a woman, and that there is deep, relationship threatening compromise involved if it is the other way round, is backwards. Not a debate, just backwards. There are hundreds of comments on the ‘This Morning’ Facebook condemning the debate – ‘this is pathetic’, ‘I’d love him for him, not his money’ – so it’s not as if this is something that ‘This Morning’ viewers are enjoying and agreeing with. ‘This Morning’ needs to either stick to something that is really worth debating or to drop this feature entirely, focusing on the things that it is good at. Celebrities arguing about what a woman ‘should’ do is not what I like to see whilst I eat my cereal. I like Gino D’Acampo, celebrity interviews, I’ll even take an astrologer talking about the royal baby’s star sign, but I don’t want this kind of normalised sexism, which slithers under the radar like a little Katie Hopkins-faced snake. Enough.