05/07/2013 07:08 BST | Updated 03/09/2013 06:12 BST

In Defence of Liz Jones


I suspect many people will see the title of this article, tut, and resume reading something worthier, or funnier. I don't blame them. There are a lot of things that are worthier and funnier than Liz Jones. Liz would agree, I'm sure.

Being the irksome Daily Mail columnist that she is, she has viewpoints that many women deem offensive. Whether she's talking about the trials of aging or, when she still could, duping boyfriends to get pregnant, she does so in a manner that makes most women want to gag or just gag Liz.

Liz's latest offence is to suggest that Rihanna's drug taking, flesh-flashing ways are potentially damaging to young girls, that she a 'poisonous pop princess' and a bad role model. Rihanna hit back calling Liz a 'menopausal mess' and 'bitter.'

While Rihanna is more than capable of standing up for herself, the media jumped to her defence, implying that Liz was far from a role model herself. In response Liz wrote an article acknowledging that no one knew better than her what a bad role model she was.

Reading this article, for the first time I felt compassion for Liz. Not Liz Jones, the writer, but rather, Liz Jones, the woman. She ended her article by saying 'I don't know if I can do this anymore' and I believed her.

OK, so she can only blame herself for ending up as a social experiment in womanhood but no one can deny that she hasn't been totally committed to the project.

She's suffered everything from starvation to surgery in the hope of being what certain sections of society consider an acceptable female. She's endured nothing but criticism in the process.

According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), a total of 43,172 women underwent surgical procedures in 2012 while the Female Body Survey found 67 percent of women said they would consider plastic surgery to improve their bodies.

Meanwhile the membership of WeightWatchers is in the tens of thousands and the number of women who have tried to lose weight at some point in their lives dwarfs the number that has never dieted.

These stats demonstrate that whatever we think about Liz, she is a 'normal' woman. Countless women across the UK are doing the same things that she's doing. Strike that, across the world. Could we call Rihanna 'normal'? Hardly.

Rihanna is a dream. She represents the unattainable and we worship her for it. The only thing that sets Liz apart is her willingness to share her personal turmoil and we despise her for it. Unlike Rihanna, the things Liz talks about are so real, so attainable we've all done them. She reminds us of the battles we hate to admit while we engage in them on a daily basis.

The bad boyfriends, the failed relationships, the face-lift, the menopausal mood swings, yep, Liz has got them all under her belt, just like millions of other women.

Liz and Rihanna represent the archetypes of feminism, one strong and undefeated, the other weak and under constant attack. We find it hard to sympathise with Liz because she embodies everything we've worked so hard to leave behind.

Only we haven't left it behind at all and every time we ogle an image of Kate Moss, deny ourselves dessert, ignore a sexist comment or fail to voice an opinion, we know it. In those moments, writers like Liz remind us that we're not alone in our 'uncool' womanhood.

As ever, women are their own harshest critics. It's other women that brand Liz as 'broke, overworked, depressed, lonely, barren, deaf, friendless, pensionless, in possession of cellulite and a post-menopausal beard.'

But there is no kudos in slagging off Liz because she's an easy target. Liz slagging off Rihanna however, now that takes guts. It's even, dare I say, admirable.