Take a break from the remaining Strawberry Delights abandoned at the bottom of your forlorn Quality Street tin to spare a thought for Sarah Vine this bank holiday.
The poor journalist (and wife of Michael Gove) has just confessed in a Mail Online column that she has spent the last day shedding tears, so many tears, for today’s young women. Why? Not because (alas! alack!) she has taken Gove off the market, but because many of them (women, that is) went outside on New Year’s Eve and – those of a sensitive disposition might want to look away now – got drunk.
Under the headline “Pictures that make me weep for today’s young women”, Vine opines that it is “more depressing” to see photographs of drunk young women – photographs, by the way, helpfully provided to outrage and definitely not, never, ever, to titillate Mail readers – than it is to see those of men.
Your mole notices Vine offers little explanation for why she finds images of drunk women more offensive than seeing men in the same state, but surely it cannot be that she feels women should be held to higher standards of decorum and decency than their male counterparts? That, after all, would be sexism, and if there is one thing that Vine is not – while she weeps out her caring, heartfelt thoughts about women next to candid upskirt pictures of them celebrating a night out – it’s sexist.
That is to say nothing of the fact that the pictures that Vine features are, for the most part, not that bad at all. Women helping their friends to walk and fighting off males should invoke feelings of pride, not prudish moral outrage at the fact they happened to do it while – gasp! – showing off their bare legs.
Furthermore – as your mole embodied while catching up on Sherlock instead of popping down to the local Public Burrow last night – binge-drinking in youths is actually at an all-time low, rendering Vine’s sentiments about “Tony Blair’s brave new world of 24-hour drinking” completely redundant.
Further-further-more, substance abuse researchers for Glasgow University have also revealed that despite the fact twice as many men die from alcohol misuse than women every year, the media focuses disproportionately on women. “We found a strong emphasis on the deterioration of women’s physical appearance and attractiveness due to alcohol,” they wrote.
And this, dear readers, is the crux of the issue. A woman looks “out of control” if her hair is unbrushed or her dress slips slightly, while a man would have to go to far more extreme lengths to be identified by appearance as a problem drinker. The double standards are ridiculous, and also damaging – the media misleads us by focusing on binge-drinking women, meaning that men who drink dangerously may struggle to identify their behaviour as problematic.
Still, it is nice to know that depsite the world-shaking events of 2016, the UK’s moral compass is still able to align with the earth’s magnetic field and point us all in the right direction. Which is to say, backwards.