I follow Burchill, not Jordan

Observations on role models

I hate to ruin a campaign that unites the Independent and the "new men's" weekly Nuts, but let me demur from the view that Jordan's jungle antics on ITV's I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! have turned her into a role model. True, everyone predicted that Alex Best would be the star, and Jordan has swiped the water-cooler status. Only the other day, a girlfriend and I discussed whether her seeming confusion between breasts and buttocks (fellow celebrities: "Let's have a display of bottoms"; Jordan: "Oops, there go my hooters") was a reference to the evolutionary notion that when cavemen stopped doing it doggy-style and developed the missionary position, female breasts overtook buttocks as primary sexual signifiers. Or not.

And Darwinian sex aside, can I ask who is not baffled by Jordan's interest in the weedy and clearly tone-deaf Peter Andre, particularly when Lord "Rocket" Brocket is close by, prancing around with his shirt off?

Jordan a role model? I cannot look up to someone who has willingly paid £5,000 to have her bum syringed. I certainly admire her: living rough in a rainforest for a week must be nothing compared with the strain of mothering a blind child, but sympathy does not build an icon. I mean, who has ever felt sorry for Madonna?

Men never worry either about being, or investing in, a role model. "Razor" Ruddock? John Lydon? Lord Brocket? Will any man on the planet step forward and admit that one of them could be a use- ful role model? Of course not. Unlike women, men don't scrabble around the TV schedules in search of inspiration.

From a very early age, men have had the luxury of institutionally produced role models. From the Undertones' "My Perfect Cousin" to David Copperfield's admiration for Steerforth, popular culture is seething with examples of boys and their role models. The City is full of young chaps collared by male-dominated "mentoring" devices known as "drinks with the lads". Team sports, almost entirely the province of boys and men, are geared towards satisfactorily working in an environment that regularly celebrates role models; all of that "Man of the Match" notion is merely a formal example of this, whereas most girls give up the team spirit early. In terms of sport, our step classes and lonely laps in the pool are not marketed half so much around female bonding as they are around getting fit and getting laid.

That's not to say we girls don't need our icons; we just have to search them out more openly. The entire premise of the magazine InStyle is that women feel more confident about having a radical haircut if they know that Jennifer Aniston was there first. When I started as a hack, my role model was Julie Burchill. "I can't write this!" I would inwardly whimper when I wanted to say something caustic. At which point, a picture of La Burchill as scowling teenager would materialise in my head. And the piece got written, Julie (metaphorically) cheering me on.

Judy Finnegan, doyenne of daytime TV, regularly receives letters from women, presumably inspired by a successful working woman and mother of four who is a normal dress size and who survived the trauma of being deshabillee in front of millions. Women require visible role models. But there's got to be a bit of reality in them, which is the problem with Jordan. While there was a lot of authenticity in Judy's lacy bits, there's not too much of the real McCoy in Jordan's FF cups.

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