THE BLOG

#DailyFail - Daily Mail Reporting of Women Made Me so Angry I Started a Campaign

17/06/2014 15:01 BST | Updated 16/08/2014 10:59 BST

Last Thursday I read an article in the Daily Mail that made my blood boil. It was a report on Amal Alamuddin's attendance at the End Sexual Violence in Conflict Summit. It began with a headline that described her as George Clooney's fiancée (no reference in the original article to her as a person, or detail of her distinguished career as international human rights lawyer), went on to say how she is planning her wedding to him (not even their wedding) and said how stylish she looked in her red dress and 'floral heels'.

2014-06-16-dailymail.jpg

The article described how Amal's attendance of the summit allowed her to show off 'her slim pins', as if that was her primary reason for attending rather than her interest in the vitally important issue of sexual violence itself. Followed by some patronising comments about how she was seen 'taking notes', as if this would be beyond the capabilities of a 'raven haired beauty' (the article has since been updated to tone it down slightly).

I got so angry about the Mail's offensive coverage, it drove me to start a campaign calling on Paul Dacre, the editor of the Daily Mail, to ensure his paper covers women for who they are, not what they're wearing, how good they look in it, or who their partner is. And I've clearly hit a nerve, in the 6 days since I launched the campaign, over 1,300 people have already signed the petition.

I'm not sure why this particular article broke this camel's back. It's an everyday occurrence for the media, and especially the Daily Mail, to report on women based on who they are married to, what they are wearing and how good they look in it, and whether they appear slim or overweight.

Maybe it's because I'd just got back from the End Sexual Violence in Conflict Summit (the same Summit that the Mail covered Amal Alamuddin's attendance at) when I saw the Daily Mail article. Along with harrowing stories of the sexual violence and abuse facing women, one of the main themes running through the summit was the need to address the root causes of sexual violence - a culture that portrays women as objects, dehumanising them and taking away their identify and rights as women, as equal human beings.

Whilst in no way wanting to compare the Mail coverage to the abuse and injustice that women in conflict face, I believe that articles like this condone and perpetuate exactly the same type of culture.

A culture that sees women in terms of whose partner they are - a possession rather than a person in their own right - making them more vulnerable to violence, wherever they are in the world.

A culture that thinks it's ok to portray women as little more than a clothes hanger to show off the latest fashions, an object for public critique, stopping women being respected for who they are or what they can achieve. To say nothing of impact this has on the young girls and women growing up obsessed by, and feeling defined by, their body shape rather than their potential.

As one of the UK's most read papers, and the largest international news website, the Daily Mail is a major contributor to this culture of objectifying women. But this means it also has the power to be a real force for change.

I'm not naïve enough to believe that one campaign will change a well-established editorial policy, but I do believe that change is possible and that if enough people demand an end to this sort of reporting we can make a difference.

So please help me build the pressure for change by signing the petition and sharing with your friends today.

Because whilst this story and campaign will quickly become old news, the issue behind it is sadly an all too everyday occurrence.