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Does Susanna have to wear double-crease slacks to be taken seriously?

By Jane Graham

Published 05/06/2015

Serious journalist: Susanna Reid has hit back at being labelled a flirt
Serious journalist: Susanna Reid has hit back at being labelled a flirt

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman. Whether you give all your love to just one man, or choose to be more generous. And God help you if you prefer to withhold it completely. Nowhere is this difficult social issue better illustrated than in the mainstream media's attitude to female TV presenters. According to the Press, there are only two possibilities when it comes to female interviewers. Are they flirting, or are they stony-faced humourless harridans who fantasise about chopping off men's John Wayne Bobbitts?

It's a simple system of analysis, which should make it easy for high-profile women to avoid any confusion. However, not everyone welcomes this policy of comparative compartmentalising.

You might have thought it would be nice to have such a clear choice laid in front of her, but not so, says Good Morning Britain's Susanna Reid. (Not sure who she is? How about if I call her Sexy Susanna Reid? Saucy Susanna? Sassy Susanna? Ah yes, you know her now.)

Reid said this week she's frustrated at being labelled a flirt whenever she smiles at a male interviewee or, even more wantonly, laughs at his jokes.

And if she's not wearing straight-legged double-crease slacks when she does it, she might as well throw in a lap dance.

"I'm a professional interviewer whose job it is to get the absolute best out of people," party-pooper Reid opined.

"It's a little bit reductionist to boil it down to wearing a dress, aka flashing the pins. It ... feels a bit like, come on, really?"

Reid was referring to the attention that she got for her recent interview with Prime Minister David Cameron, in which she wore a frock to bewitch him and smiled in a come-to-bed manner when he tried to be witty.

At least, that's how the Press saw it.

And how they also saw it when she interviewed David Beckham, ex-Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens, Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner and any other chap who's cracked a grin out of her in the last few years.

Perhaps if she wants to be taken seriously as a journalist and remain a woman, she should work on affecting an expression of dead-eyed indifference in response to a funny line from any man she's talking to on-screen, even if this results in humiliation and a lowered self-esteem for the dejected chap.

This approach certainly seems to work for Jeremy Paxman. He's the rudest man on television and, by gosh, is he respected.

Of course, it's nothing new to note that the media is obsessed with rating female performers in terms of their outfits and prettiness.

Every year, we point out that the Oscars are about acting, Wimbledon about playing tennis, the 10 o'clock news about, um, delivering the news. And every year we're met with headlines about saggy bums, thundering thighs and botched beetroot blusher. And that's just Kirsty Wark.

Could it be that we're steeped so far in regarding women primarily as victories, or failures, according to their sexual allure that no amount of protest, education, or naming-and-shaming will ever change things?

A depressing thought, but as the practice continues to thrive, even in a time of rising feminism, one has to wonder.

Maybe even when pre-historic Western woman killed and brought home a dead rabbit to a caveful of starving men, she got a cheer for her cheeky fur mini-dress before anyone noticed she was holding dinner.

Good for her if she smacked them with a rabbit skin. And good for Susanna Reid for not taking the tiresome drivel she endures on a daily basis like a man.

Why Charles' son can be proud of him

Whenever a politician dies, we get the same hyperbolic cliches. We are told of the huge loss for the nation, how terrible is this passing of a warm, decent, highly intelligent and morally courageous servant of the country.

This presents a problem when we lose someone about whom all of those grand words are true.

Charles Kennedy was a one-off MP - lovable, funny and also genuinely principled and independent-minded.

The old cliches came out, yes, but what better legacy than to have your 10-year-old son brought to the Commons to hear how loved and revered his dad was.

What a wonderful achievement for Charles Kennedy the man.

Let's show we all hate these crimes

While Northern Ireland continues to make slow headway coping with the divisive legacy of the Troubles, it's dispiriting to see how the notion of tolerating difference remains beyond the ken of some unenlightened souls.

Police in Belfast have recorded a 43% increase in racist hate crimes in just eight months. For most living here - a country that prides itself on friendliness and open conversation - it's a matter of extreme shame that some immigrants are "welcomed" with verbal abuse, "locals only" graffiti or, in the worst cases, burnt-out homes.

This is a fight for rights all good people must engage in, for as long as it takes to win.

Belfast Telegraph

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