The Vagenda

Glorying in drugs, girls and sleaze, The Daily Mail’s a toxic role model for its army of young fans

The first time I saw the Daily Mail, it was nestled next to The Times, dressed up like a real newspaper for the entire world to see. There was clearly one thing on Paul Dacre’s mind: with this paper, I can simultaneously piss everyone off, chuck in some light racism, homophobia, misogyny and general bullshit, oh and show a lot of cleavage. Result! Damn you in particular, sidebar of shame. I am drawn to you like a moth to a sticky death flame. You look purdy, but you will kill me with your slut shaming, outrage, and pictures of teenage girls looking “grown up” (super secret hidden code for ‘soon to be fuckable!’)
The second time (OK, hundredth, it’s like a car crash, you have to look) I saw the Daily Mail, however, it was waving two giant spliffs at me like angry penises, wanting to kill me with their poisonous cannabis juice. Oh no, wait, that’s apparently what happened to Liz Jones (the usual troll columnist suspect) when she saw a picture of Rihanna smoking “phallic” doobs. (I hate to direct you to a DM article, but do take a look if you can stomach it. Or just read the quotes below).
Yes, Liz dangled the attention-seeking carrot, but this time it’s so fucked up that I’m going to have to take a bite.
Where to start? No really? I have no idea how a joint can be anything over than long and cone-shaped, having not smoked one for about 10 years. Perhaps stoners have come up with a way to make them kid-friendly and shaped like sponge bob square pants. Apparently this picture is just the latest in a lot of things for us to be OUTRAGED about. She really is a fallen princess, is she not? SIGH.
But the truly turgid, festering stuff comes way after the drug taking (doesn’t it always?). These are the following reasons, according to the DM, why Rihanna is a BAD role model. And yes, I directly quote from the article. As in these are actual words, not me doing sarcasms:
Pictures of Rihanna’s dance moves were too explicit to print in a family newspaper.
FYI this is the same newspaper that currently has a headline stating: “Imogen Thomas strips down to a racy bra as she promotes her modelling career”. But, blimey, those dance moves. They’re what’s wrong with the country.
I don’t care if she has the voice of an angel and is self-made, feisty and confident. All these qualities pale to nothing when we know she went back to her abusive boyfriend, Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to assaulting her in 2009.
Yes, it is indeed her fault for returning to an abuser. Because domestic violence is that simple, and women who return are really inviting it, are they not? She probably returned to him smoking something phallic, with her RED LIPSTICK on. Harlot.
That she promotes drug-taking, drinking and the sort of fashion sense on stage that surely invites rape at worst, disrespect at least.
There is absolutely nothing funny I can say about this. It is the sort of sentence that makes me cry inside. Yes, even more so than a pop star’s sartorial choices and rumoured fondness for rum and weed. Liz Jones, have you not seen The Accused, dammit? Was the message of Slut Walk (whatever your feminist feelings about the name of the march) lost on you? Are you actually promoting the idea that what you wear could lead to you becoming a target for rapists? If so, please let me share this pearl of wisdom with you: If I were writing about naked, drunk, on heroin, at 4am, in a park with the words FUCK ME tattooed on my bare arse, I would still not be inviting rape.
Confused? Let me explain. Men do not rape women because they love them; they rape women because they hate them. Rape is the only crime where the victim is blamed and asked to change their behaviour as much as, if not more than, the perpetrator. Rape can happen to anyone. ANYONE. Elderly people, young children. It has nothing to do with the clothes you wear, or the amount of alcohol you ingest. Ever seen a headline reading: Elderly woman murdered in own house, shouldn’t have been elderly, should have bought better door? No? That’s because crime is committed by criminals, not caused by its victims.
Is it fair that we berate female stars for being bad, when we don’t admonish men in the same way? Yes, it is fair. Because young women are far more impressionable than young men.
Er, no. At this point I have to ask, Liz, if you have in fact smoked some of that phallic spliff you were wanging on about earlier.
(my personal favourite picture caption of all time): Shopping in Paris in 2008, with her ‘Bad’ knuckle duster on display. Even her jewellery is the opposite of feminine: it is hard, costly and combative.
If only she were more feminine, DM, I wouldn’t worry so much for the kids. When children copy role models, they should know only to copy the feminine, Disney princess-esque role models. And goodness knows, there are hardly any of them.
(another picture caption) Another social network posting, after a live show in November 2012 with the caption ‘It’s a wrap’. Lying topless, smoking, she looks wanton.
Look, I don’t personally get my baps out on twitter, and I’m certainly not about to get into an argument about how pro-female it is to do so, but the words give a shit spring to mind. Oh and wanton? The 1940s wants its catchphrase back.
(the final, nail in the coffin caption) At the Billboard Awards in May 2011 kissing Britney Spears, a young woman ravaged by fame. Never mind the faux lesbian overtones, note the ‘Barbarella’ costumes complete with chains. 
You know what, concession: I could do without female artists being over-sexualised while their male counterparts get to lark about on speedboats surrounded by half naked women. I could do without kids walking about unknowingly singing the words to weirdly sexual songs (a primary school teacher friend of mine once attended an assembly where the kids performed Akon’s Smack That. I’m not joking). And hey, I don’t have kids, so perhaps if I did I would worry a hell of a lot more about what Rihanna was doing. But none of this even comes close to the rubbish served up by the Daily Mail – a world where young women are routinely held up as pariahs, porn stars or ideals depending on what they are wearing or whether or not they stay at home with their children. And it’s this kind of crap that makes me want to take all my clothes off, roll a massive phallic joint and go on tour with Rihanna. But then I’m such a damn impressionable female, of course that’s what I want to do.
- HS

20 thoughts on “Glorying in drugs, girls and sleaze, The Daily Mail’s a toxic role model for its army of young fans

  1. This article is so poorly written. It reads like a semi-concious spew of fury.

    Daily Mail+ Rihanna= a predictable and hateful article.
    It would seem Vagenda + DM + Rihanna= a predictable and boring counter.

  2. Liz Jones is the headcase who admitted to stealing her boyfriend’s sperm to try to get herself pregnant without his knowledge or consent. She should be in jail for such human vandalism. Hopefully that would also stop her churning out such nasty drivel too.

  3. Thanks for this Vagenda. A spot on and well written article. I know it’s a pedantic point, but the Vagtenda’s point regarding the ‘invites rape’ comment strikes me as morally spot on, but misses a certain (in the wider context minor, but perhaps not legally) pernicious aspect to it. ‘invite rape’, like ‘bogus asylum seeker’ is an oxymoron – by definition you can’t invite rape, if it’s invited, it can’t be rape – and in this case an even more despicable and dangerous one.

    If the article had said, instead, ‘increases the risk of rape’, for example, I would still be disgusted and absolutely agree with the author, but for me ‘invite’ is worse yet, but also (I hope crucially) clearly contravenes the PCC code of practice as seen below. It’s a Mail article that, like the Gately one, could force some kind of retraction/apology/payment from the Mail if enough people complain.

    The ‘far more impressionable comment’, while to me less offensive, is also surely at worst sexist, at least sexist, given that (although it’s an opinion piece) it’s stated as if it’s factual, with zero supporting evidence provided. This comment, I think and hope clearly contravenes another two items on the code of practice.

    It’s a sad statement that I normally wouldn’t bother complaining about the Mail but for me this is another Stephen Gately moment so I reported it to the PCC. I hope you don’t mind but I’ll copy/paste my text and the PCC link below to make it easy for others to complain too. The text is not my personal feelings on the subject but I was trying to make sure (clumsily) it related to the PCC code of practice and their complaints procedure. The PCC are here –

    Complaint text (feel free to copy/amend as needed)

    Daily Mail: “she [Rihanna] promotes drug-taking, drinking and the sort of fashion sense on stage that surely invites rape at worst, disrespect at least”

    By definition, nothing can ‘invite rape’. It is untrue, dangerous (it can discourage women from reporting rape and may reduce conviction rates) and disgraceful to suggest that any woman’s clothing can in any way ‘invite’ rape.

    “young women are far more impressionable than young men”

    An obviously sexist comment, for which no evidence or support of any kind is given, yet stated as fact.

    These strike me as the worst and most obvious examples, yet I feel the whole tone of the article is in contravention of part iii) over the code of practice, ascribing motives to the person of the kind which cannot be justified from the available evidence. For example the caption of a picture of Rihanna drinking alcohol on what is clearly a boat reads “I was taught never to eat before swimming but she seems to think it’s fine to be off your head in the water” – a) she clearly isn’t in the water b) even if she is drunk (and there is nothing except the presence of what looks like a bottle of alcohol to suggest she is in any way ‘off her head’) being drunk on a boat in no way suggests that you believe such behaviour in the water should be encouraged.

    Though the article is an opinion piece,it does make numerous statements, such as the ones above, expressed factually, with either no, or highly misleading/contentious ‘evidence’ provided in support.

    i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures

    iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact

    i) The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.

    Thanks and just a general big up as always.

    EDITED – deleted and reposted because it read, and was formatted, as if I’d written it while ‘inviting’ myself to be the subject of a Daily Mail editorial.

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