Press response to women politicians: a comparative study of suffragettes and contemporary Scottish Parliament leaders.
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PEDERSEN, S. 2016. Press response to women politicians: a comparative study of suffragettes and contemporary Scottish Parliament leaders. Journalism studies [online], Latest Articles. Available from: https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1461670X.2016.1200953
Celebrity culture and the personalisation of both politics and the media in the last few decades has exacerbated the media's focus on the appearance of women politicians. However, this article argues that we can see a similar approach to women politicians when they first appeared in newspapers over a hundred years ago. Using evidence from Scottish newspapers' coverage of the suffragettes in the early twentieth century and comparing it to coverage of contemporary Scottish women politicians, this article demonstrates that the reporting of these early women politicians had the same focus on body and appearance, the same concerns about clothing choices and the same discussion of their domestic lives. However, it is also suggested that, to a certain extent, the construction of the woman politician as different or other and the focus on appearance, bodies and even their maternal role was part of a discourse promoted by the suffragettes themselves in their campaign for the vote. Women needed to be presented as different from men, as supplying a necessary feminine touch to politics, and this needed to be clearly exemplified in their physical appearance. However, this has left an unwanted legacy for contemporary women politicians.