Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Piers Morgan: The Feminist Gatekeeper That No One Asked For

It's a sad and unfortunate truth that we currently share a planet with Piers Morgan. Even sadder, his face and voice crop up everywhere, his opinions available to any platform willing to accommodate them.

Among his recent offerings to the world is a column for The Daily Mail, in which he told journalist Michelle Fields, who was assaulted by Donald Trump's campaign manager, to "toughen up". He tries to use the "let's ignore the journalists gender for a second" argument, and okay... yes, it would still be wrong if that journalist was a man. Because yes, I do believe in equality - I don't think anybody should be assaulted. As a side note, he chose to open this article with an anecdote of how Jeremy Clarkson once punched him in the head and he decided not to punch him back or press charges - I think he was trying to be endearing? - and a misuse of the word "ironically".

Piers seems to think of himself as something of an expert on feminism (and most other things in the world, now that I think about it), taking to Twitter and mourning the supposed death of feminism. Yep, Kim Kardashian and Emily Ratajkowski's topless selfie has literally killed feminism. 

I'm not trying to say that a successful woman posting a topless selfie is the biggest step forward feminism has ever made. But it's also not even close to being a step backwards. Here are two women, often photographed without their consent, taking control of their own image. It's their choice of how much of their body to show, despite the fact that we live in a society that constantly tells up to cover up, in case we offend someone (unless you have a "bikini body", in which case you're obliged to display it). For a woman to take control and present herself how she wants is meaningful (which is why I am big believer in selfies as a positive act). It's certainly not Piers' place to decide if something is personally empowering.

We live in a world that tells us (Kardashian included) that to show your body is to undermine everything else about yourself - intelligence, accomplishments etc, that we should cover up in order to be "safe". The truth is, as a woman, you're going to be just as scrutinised in a business suit as you are topless. You'll probably be called an attention-seeker, or "attention-whore", because seeking attention is obviously the worst thing a woman can do.

Then, of course, there's his judgement of Beyoncé and the increasingly political undertone of the work, siding with everybody's nobody's favourite politician Rudy Giuliani's view that her recent Superbowl performance, which paid tribute to the Black Panthers, was "disgraceful and outrageous". He goes on to say how he "preferred the old Beyoncé. The less inflammatory, agitating one." Well, yes, I'm sure you did prefer it when Beyoncé appealed more to your white male sensibilities. Jamelia put it perfectly, in an open blog post, when she said "[Piers], you don't like Beyoncé in Lemonade because her blackness isn't white enough for you anymore."

Oh yeah, and apparently Madonna is "tragic" because she doesn't conform to what Piers believes a woman should be.

And the Jezebel writers are "Nazis" for supporting Susan Sarandon for daring to show some cleavage.

And it's perfectly fine to misgender someone (in this case, Janet Mock), and then when said person calls you out on it, to make it seem as though you're the victim here.

And, as a white, middle-class man, it's definitely his place to police black people on their use of the N-word.

If looking at Piers' criticism of various women has taught me anything, it's that he has a strict image of what he thinks a woman should be and how she should act. Anything outside of that is just plain offensive. If you're a woman, then you can't expose your body unless it's on his terms. If you're a WOC, then you'd better make sure you still cater to middle class white men.

Piers, you are not some wise gatekeeper of feminism. Your brand is pseudo-journalism at best, in the same vein as Katie Hopkins and her thirst for social media infamy. You used to the editor of the Daily Mirror, a tabloid worthy of no respect, and even they fired you. You were cancelled by CNN. You've frequently used your platform to shame women for whatever reason you see fit, yet feign concern over the future of feminism. You're not worried about feminism being "dead" - you're worried because women are actually benefiting from it, and that scares you.

Feminism isn't dead. Your understanding of the world is dead.

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