Does Jeremy Clarkson believe all white men his age think like he does? Maybe that’s what gave him the confidence to write in his Sun newspaper column that he “hated” the Duchess of Sussex, along with other disgusting comments that I will not repeat. That article in the Sun has become the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s most complained about article ever with more than 20,000 objections.
Until recently I was the government’s independent adviser on tackling violence against women and girls. I saw how the way the media spoke about women and girls had a direct impact on the lives of millions. A woman is killed every three days in the UK, one in four adult women have experienced sexual assault or an attempted assault, and countless others have suffered some form of male violence.
Considering that, you’d think men with public platforms have a responsibility not to legitimise and embolden misogynistic views that fuel the dehumanisation of women and girls. Especially young black women who have been brave enough to talk about mental health struggles due to the way the media has treated them.
You don’t have to be Team Meghan to recognise and unequivocally call out what Clarkson wrote. I have no desire to go into the soap opera that is the royal family, because that’s not the issue at hand. But we need to talk about where we’re heading as a country: when men can not only think disgusting, hateful things about women, but write them down and have them published in a national newspaper. The fake free-speech army seems to always think that white men are allowed to say what they want, and if we can’t take the joke we should get off their internet, but what Clarkson wrote was pure hate. I don’t use the latter term lightly, but when the shoe fits, he needs to wear it – along with the consequences.
Yes, I am calling for him to be sacked, but I also think the Sun needs to take a look at its role in all this – it cannot have its cake and eat it. I had issues with the paper when it printed Page 3. To the Sun’s credit, in the last few years it has been trying to work with women’s organisations to undo a lot of the harm it has caused over the years. But now all the Sun’s hard work has been called into question – you can’t say you want to address violence against women and girls while printing words that can encourage exactly that.
This should be a moment of reckoning for the media – not just in how it reports on Meghan, but women and girls as a whole. Because it really doesn’t matter what you think of Meghan Markle. What matters is what you think about women.