Thursday 28th November
Why is it that we take such pleasure when one of the rich and famous comes a cropper? The revelation from not the most unbiased of sources that poor Nigella was a regular user of cocaine, cannabis and prescription drugs yesterday has produced lurid headlines and a flood of facebook and twitter ‘jokes’. And I am not immune, having responded in my usual jokey fashion to one or two facebook comments. A few days ago we had the Reverend Flowers disgraced and hauled through the tabloids and ‘Have I got News For You’ for a similar drug misuse. However he was the chairman of a high street bank, and maybe the opprobrium heaped on him was in some part due to his supposed high standing in society. Besides he was a man, and men generally are not treated with such nastiness.
But we do treat women differently. Women murderers (thankfully rare) are treated far worse by both press and public alike than men. Women who have lots of sexual partners are sluts, men are studs. And women who fall from grace are repeatedly attacked or ridiculed. What has poor Nigella done that millions or at least many thousands of wealthy media folk haven’t done before? In fact for male pop stars it is almost a badge of honour to have ingested industrial quantities of coke. But like Rebekah Brooks before her we all get some vicarious pleasure from seeing a successful, pretty and wealthy woman dragged through the dirt. And sadly it isn’t just us men; women are even bitchier where other women are concerned.
It reminds me of my childhood where if a poor girl got herself pregnant she was a ‘trollope, and it brought disgrace to the whole family. The boy responsible was sometimes dragged to the altar but often got away with a shrug of his shoulders and a pat on the back from his mates. And who were the worst critics of the unfortunate girl; why, other women who in all probability had also indulged in pre-marital sex themselves, but had been lucky enough not to fall pregnant, or if they did, to rush through a marriage in the nick of time.
We think we have come a long way in equality; but we have far further to go than we like to admit.