It shames me to my bones to admit it, but when I type ‘www’ into my Safari address bar, it automatically brings up ‘dailymail.co.uk’. Which means I’m visiting the site waaaaay too often. It’s a reflex thing, something I do without thinking in idle moments – the online equivalent of staring into space wondering what to have for tea.
I’m sure I can’t be the only one. In fact I know I’m not, because the Daily Mail Online is the world’s second-biggest English-language newspaper site. The New York Times is Number One, but still, that’s a depressing statistic. So clearly I’m not alone. Along with the usual Daily Mail readers, there must be hordes of liberal, right-thinking women who feel compelled to seek out pictures of Sarah Jessica-Parker’s gnarly hands and Elle Macpherson’s chicken elbows, and who secretly enjoy its rabid, unprovoked attacks on celebrities. Today’s victim was Kate Moss for daring to grow older and have fun.
This morning my friends were frothing on Facebook about how awful and misogynistic this particular piece was. They all still read it though. In any case, the paper’s twisted worldview is well documented. People have even written songs about it:
You can see why they get up in arms: it is the worst kind of misogyny, women pillorying other women for daring to be less than flawless. I guess its a symptom of our own self-hatred that we have to see other women looking chubby in a bikini to feel better about ourselves. There’s something rather tragic about it. And also massively compelling.
The Daily Mail Online is YouPorn for women – we’d never read it in public and we know that, long-term, it’s probably damaging to the soul. But in the privacy of our own homes where no one’s going to know, the only obstacle is our own shame. And we overcome that by telling ourselves that it’s not illegal and if you’re not paying for it, it doesn’t count…