Totty

The Guardian has on its front page every day a picture of a woman. It’s not as blatant as Page 3 of another newspaper, for the women that it has are such figures as Michelle Obama and Angela Merkel. However, it only very exceptionally has male figures on the front cover. And sometimes the pictures are really quite appalling. Its photograph of the Costa Concordia disaster was a filmic picture of various survivors, most out of focus but two beautiful Italian women definitely in focus. When the silicone-breast-implant story broke, G2 decided it was a good excuse to run an article on cosmetic surgery or some such; its accompanying picture was a 17th-century portrait of a woman bearing her breasts. Not Page 3 because it’s a painting, so that’s all right, then. It used exactly the same picture on the front cover of its review section last weekend to advertise an article on the 18th-century sexual revolution. It could easily have used, say, a portrait of Lord Hervey or the bonking couple by Rembrandt pictured inside or Hogarth’s Rake’s Progess. But no, it had to have a woman with her tits out. Private Eye (praise be to) often lampoons this sort of thing, but its target is the Torygraph, not the Grauniad. The Grauniad gets away with it.

 So:

 Dear Sir,

 I am concerned with the pictures displayed daily on your front page. They are always of women. Admittedly these women are not usually half-naked; nonetheless, the reason for their being there is exactly the same: they are women. Not newsworthy individuals with relevance to the stories on the front page. Just women, and if not famous, then pretty. This is hardly a way to champion the equality of the sexes. If it helps to sell newspapers, by attracting the male (and lesbian?) readers with some totty or getting a sympathy-buy from the female readers, then that is cynical, unprincipled and unworthy of a newspaper which is renowned as a refuge for the intellectual and liberal. If it is an effect of having a male sub-editor who choses the front page picture, then perhaps it is time for someone else to take over that choice.

Given that you have run admirable pieces on equality and gender stereotyping, is it not about time that front page photographs were more gender-balanced?

Yours faithfully,

Katie Hawks

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