Just when we thought we’d seen it all when it came to sexism in politics, especially after a source in Andy Burnham’s campaign team claimed that, of course, Yvette Cooper’s husband Ed Balls was spearheading her Labour leadership campaign, another Labour MP, Alison McGovern tweeted a letter she’d received that certainly proved, no, we haven’t.
A member of the Labour party wrote to McGovern to discuss her clothing choice when she appeared on Channel 4 News in June.
More specifically, they brought up her decision ‘to demonstrate [her] cleavage so obviously on T-V’ (sic).
The writer also suggested that the reason she must have chosen her outfit ‘was deliberate in order to attract attention’. It clearly didn’t occur to ‘J.G. Hunter’ that she may have liked the top, felt comfortable in the top… or that the top was the last thing on her mind as she was about to debate something important on prime time news.
Yes, of course, let’s also ignore the fact that the shadow treasury minister was debating a proposed bill on governments running a surplus on their budget when the economy is booming (okay, I may not understand what that means but SHE definitely does).
The letter is the latest in a worrying trail of evident sexism in UK politics. Over the weekend an article was published in The Spectator, asking whether Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper had the right ‘look’ for a Labour leader, saying: ‘there is something quite appealing about [Cooper’s] slightly French crop and black and white dresses, especially when she is so boring that one looks rather than listens’. Charming. He then discussed Kendall, who ‘looks like a nice person, but not in a distinctive way’.
We note, that no such article was written comparing whether Andy Burnham or Jeremy Corbyn are the right ‘look’ for a leader. Of course.
Frankly, we’re in 2015. The suffragettes didn’t fight for votes for woman for them to then be sexualised and patronised when they then make it as MPs. Yes, Alison McGovern has breasts, and so do half the population.
According to the letter, the MP’s ‘prominent cleavage distracted [her] male observers’. I’d also like to give the majority of men a bit more credit and say actually, J.G. Hunter, we listened loud and clear to what McGovern was saying, but we’re not going to listen to you.
Words by: Olivia Blair