Typical Femail

Why I am a crap feminist, Reason no. 362: I read the Daily Mail online

Most of the Daily Mail’s readers are female. It’s because we hate ourselves. It’s because we hate each other. It’s because whatever shame we face on a daily basis regarding how repulsive we look, how fat we’ve become, what useless mothers we are, how we’re failing in the workplace, we like nothing better to have it reinforced. Because we bring it on ourselves anyhow. Basically, we’re shit.

Writing on the Samantha Brick affair, Hadley Freeman does an excellent job of summing up just how appalling the Daily Mail is:

The general motto of the Daily Mail seems to be that a woman’s role in life is to be pretty, thin, get married, quit work, have children and, ideally, disappear or die before getting embarrassingly old and fat (it is no wonder the paper loved Diana so much.)

This is, precisely, the message of the Daily Mail in general, and the Femail section in particular. And women are, it seems, lapping it up.

Responses to Freeman’s article include plenty of references to the Mail’s female readership. What’s the point of a feminist attacking the paper when her sisters are all sneaking off to stand in Amanda Platell’s firing line? If women are reading the Daily Mail, then women are fair game. Doesn’t that make sense?

Indeed, perhaps we should all look away. But if someone or something hates you so passionately, so completely – and is expressing this hatred on a daily basis – do you look away? Or does it hold a bizarre fascination? It goes beyond a general feeling of “know your enemy”. You already know them. But you’re still not sure what they’re going to do next.

I do get an odd kind of pleasure from reading the Daily Mail. It reassures me that I’m not going mad, that misogyny is real, however insane it seems. At the same time it’s so far-fetched – so utterly removed from morality or kindness or compassion for anyone – it’s like reading the best spoof ever. It’s like Private Eye meets Viz but so, so much better because no one could possibly make the attitudes up. They are beyond imagination. Just how deep is the well of bile from which these beliefs bubble up? It’s always deeper than you think. So you keep on looking. Or at least, I keep on looking.

I did try, for a while, to stick to a website called Daily Mail Watch, methadone to Paul Dacre’s heroine. I just found myself craving the hard stuff. The pre-digested venom wasn’t strong enough.

I know all of this isn’t good enough. I need to stop reading the Daily Mail, I really do. But in the meantime, it’s worth remembering that reading it doesn’t mean that we want to live in Daily Mail Land, any more that watching Casualty means that secretly, we’d all like nothing better than to find ourselves in a major motorway pile-up, waiting to be ferried to Holby.

Mind you, I love Casualty. What’s all that about?