Belfast Telegraph

Why those Loose Women certainly don’t talk for me

By Jane Graham

It’s a terrifying thought for those of us who (gasp) believe that women are as complex, varied and interesting as men, but it now seems that, as far post-twentysomething women in the UK are concerned, the agenda is increasingly being set by the bland, cliché-spouting, middle aged ladettes who make up the panel of Loose Women.

Have you seen the Book Charts recently? The top three non-fiction hardbacks are: \[Emily Lea\]in order, The Little Book of Loose Women; Lost and Found: My Story, by Loose Women panellist Lynda Bellingham; and Mum to Mum by Loose Women panellist Coleen Nolan (below).

That’s a rout! Scan the shelf of post-adolescent women’s weeklies and, with a few exceptions, you’ll be greeted by a rotation of gurning Loose faces, usually including Denise Walsh, Coleen Nolan and Jane McDonald. And if they’re not on the cover they probably have a column inside.

This creeping domination of Loose Women, and its vacuous approach towards ‘women’s issues’ troubles me.

The show presents itself as the ‘national voice’ of womanhood, but I cannot identify with a single panel member. Not gothic uber-mama Coleen, not stony-faced, unforgiving Carol, not quivering, puppyish Sherrie and certainly not loud, gormless Denise. Where’s the over-achieving optimist? Where’s the geeky bookworm? Where, to be frank, is the clever one?

The fact that I don’t have a failed marriage behind me might be a problem — ITV seems to feel that, without at least one divorce on their CV, women just aren’t believable on telly. It may also be an obstacle that I don’t find double entendres funny while the panel of Loose Women can convulse for ten minutes over a word which may or may not suggest masturbation.

And perhaps my realm of interests, which go beyond chocolate, clothes, celebrity gossip, diets and sex, might exclude me a bit. Sure there are times when those subjects come up, but I also like to talk in depth about politics, religion, films and books with my female friends. Which would probably mark me out as some kind of elitist, po-faced freak in the land of Loose Women.

I don’t expect lengthy, intellectual discussions on a lunchtime chat-show, but I do balk at the incredible banality of Loose Women, presented as the frank, ‘authentic’, taboo-busting conversation of the everywoman.

Carol can’t eat a whole apple in the morning or she feels full but Jane can manage an entire egg. Sherrie sometimes wonders if God steps in to get her a taxi ahead of the queue whereas Carol thinks surely an interventionist God would stop natural disasters. Sherrie gets embarrassed when she’s watching a sex scene TV with her family — Coleen usually starts a distracting conversation to cope.

These discussions are clearly supposed to reflect the kind of cosy chats women have with close friends, but my circle of friends would be appalled and bored by such shallow offerings on such a predictable array of subjects. If this is womantalk, they’d think, find me a man.

I can’t quite imagine a male equivalent — the idea that the social group known as ‘men’ could be represented in a single daytime talk show would be considered reductive, offensive, ridiculous. Similarly, political parties rarely talk about ‘the male vote’ and how to swing it. Men, our culture implies, are just too diverse to be umbrella’ed in such a fashion.

Women, on the other hand — presumably we should just be grateful any of us above 25 is allowed on TV at all.

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