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A woman is hard to find

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I enjoyed reading the latest Body Language column in the Mail and Guardian. The photo that accompanies it is the cover of the current issue of Vanity Fair. It shows a milky skinned Nicole Kidman opening her blouse and baring her bra clad breasts. I agree with Kira Cochrane, the author of the column when she suggests

There is something strangely passionless and perfunctory about the pose – as though, off camera, a doctor has just shown up and told her its time for an impromptu mammary examination. Or, indeed, the magazine editor has just told her she is off the cover unless she gets on with it and gets ‘em out.

The nub of this week’s Body Language is that no matter how successful or intelligent or talented a woman is the media will insist on reducing her to tits and arse.

This got me thinking about how women are portrayed and featured in the Mail and Guardian as a case in point. On closer inspection I found that the writing of male journalists, reporters and commentators is overwhelmingly featured. Even in the Verbatim column, there is just one quote from a woman.

When it comes to the pictorial representation of women the Mail and Guardian is especially poor – at least in this issue. I had to go through 18 pages before I found a photograph of a woman either related to an article or in advertising.

I guess we should be grateful for small mercies though. Featured on page 56 is that very rare bird seldom seen in most mainstream newspapers; the sportswoman. The Mail and Guardian carries an article, and a photograph of Kelly Smith celebrating scoring a goal for England in the Women’s World Cup.

Unfortunately my pleasure was short lived because the article by (you guessed it) David James, caved in on itself with this final paragraph

Kelly Smith is a phenomenal player; with her positioning on the ball she wouldn’t look out of place in a men’s side. One of the lads put it deftly when he said: ‘She’s a manly player – without looking at all manly.’

If you ask me the lad needs a deft kick up his arse.

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