Mothers for Women’s Lib on Press Treatment of Katie Price

// 15 August 2009

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You’ll probably be aware that, predictably, the apparent tide of goodwill from the press towards Katie Price (AKA Jordan) finally turned in recent months. Before her split with Peter Andre, it seemed she could do no wrong as far as the press were concerned. Indeed, it really wasn’t so long ago that PinkStinks were raising an eyebrow over her being held up as a feminist icon by The Times. Well, those days are well and truly over now and in true tabloid tradition, the papers are busying themselves with knocking her from her pedestal.

Anji at Mothers for Women’s Lib and Shut-up and Sit Down has more:

Katie Price may not be a saint, but women do not exist to be saints, just human beings like everybody else. Katie Price, like all mothers, has every right to enter into a new relationship when her old one ends, she has every right to go on holiday and expect that her children’s father will take responsibility for their children while she’s away, she has every right to sunbathe topless at the pool (if, of course, the pool itself allows this) and she has every right to kiss her partner in front of her children. If a man did any of these things, he wouldn’t be condemned, because that’s just normal, he’s a man as well as a father. A mother, on the other hand, has an obligation to just be a mother, to sacrifice every other aspect of her being and to never be independent or to have fun.

Like I said, I’ve never been a fan of Price. I’ve never read her books and I don’t read gossip magazines, so for the most part she flies fairly low on my radar. But having had these articles brought to my attention, and actually reading them and looking between the lines for the truth in these toilet-paper red-tops, I’ve come to the conclusion that Katie Price is the same as many mothers in her position (but lucky enough not to have it plastered all over the news). She can either be an angelic Virgin Mary, or she is a whore. She can’t simply be allowed to be human as a man in her position would be. I feel for her, and am ashamed that so many of my fellow Brits see fit to judge her based purely on what they read in the tabloids, regardless of how we all know the tabloids will twist words and outright lie to get a good story, rather than actually thinking about things for a change.

Meanwhile, it seems Peter Andre is being presented as some kind of saint. It seems to me that they’re both equally guilty of sniping about each other in the press but that Jordan consistently comes across as a more forceful, dominant character and this makes her receive more criticism (or at the very least somewhat different criticism) than a dominant man would. Just check out this snippet from a letter to Heat a few months ago when the stories about the split surfaced:

There are only so many put-downs a man can take and Jordan can be extremely nasty. She’s robbed Pete of his masculinty. To have the things she’s said to him aired on TV must be humiliating and I think Pete finally had enough.

Excuse me but what exactly has his being “a man” got to do with it? And what does it say about how we view power relations between women and men if we say a woman being cruel to a man somehow “robs him of his masculinity”? What does this say about the function of masculinity itself? Obviously, I don’t have a problem with people taking a dim view of “nasty” behaviour from anyone. However, I think a good part of the backlash against Jordan stems from a need to punish her for being -whatever else one might think of her- a strong character who didn’t defer to her partner and let him take his apparent rightful role as A Man while they were together and is not fading away into obscurity like a good girl is expected to now that they’ve split up.

Comments From You

saranga // Posted 15 August 2009 at 4:17 pm

Glad to see this up here. From what i’ve seen of the headlines on the tabloids and gossip mags it seems that Peter Andre and Katie price are acting pretty much as every other couple who have had a nasty split. a) it’s none of our business and b) the coverage that they are getting is incredibly sexist and hateful.

As you say, there’s a massive double standard here – we could ask how many put downs can Katie take before Peter robs her of her femininity. But of course, if she’s daring to go out and get drunk and kiss other men then she’s a massive whore who should be damned for all eternity.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 15 August 2009 at 5:31 pm

Got it in one Holly – Katie Price by refusing to behave as a ‘subservient sex slave to her husband Peter Andre’ is demonised by the virulent women-hating media. Peter Andre on the other hand is apparently the ‘innocent party’ whose masculinity has been utterly destroyed.

Masculinity has nothing to do with the breakdown of their relationship but the women-hating media always promotes the message that all women’s central role in life is to pander to men’s egos and reflect them as being ‘twice their natural size.’ It is called a patriarchal system because only men are allowed to be human with inevitable failings whereas women are either 110% ‘good mothers’ or 110% whores.’

Jordan has committed a cardinal sin according to women-hating media and that is she is a very determined and assertive woman. Women who are perceived as assertive are always demonised. One need only remember how Harriet Harman has been subjected to vile misogynistic insults by some men who apparently believe it is their god-given right to rule parliament and society as a whole.

Again it is called patriarchy and that is why we still need feminism – because the struggle for women’s human rights is far from being over. Despite claims made by – yes I repeat – the women-hating male-dominated and male-owned media.

Karen // Posted 15 August 2009 at 5:35 pm

Definitely Not a Jordan fan but will agree that Andre is rapidly becoming St Peter of Mirror-isis while she is emotionally gunned down whatever she is snapped doing. But on the other hand, they said at the beginning of all this “can we have privacy”. I have never become so sick of the sight of a pair of “celebs” (read as irrelevant, talentless, shallow creatures) since that was said. Blanket exposure, he said and she said. My concern is for their children. Maybe introducing children to a potential father figure before possibly dealing with leaving their own father is not good for the children. But to be honest, does it mean she isn’t entitled to a sex life? Perhaps we can now see the bad side to relying on the shallow promises of fame and needing the oxygen of publicity when it suits but not when it doesn’t. Maybe this will get some more people to actually think about what they see as her real personality (and his) and realise that the false promise from “glamour” (soft porn) modelling doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Maybe some good will eventually come from this.

Kate Grace // Posted 16 August 2009 at 12:24 pm

I think feminism has far bigger and better fights to fight than that of the ludicrous joke of Katie Price/ Jordan. I accept that we as feminists should be standing up for the rights of women to be both mothers and sexual beings without being vilified for it but really- Jordan? She’s a step beyond what normally applies. She’s made her own bed and now she’s lying in it. I’m sure her representation in the press is not 100% accurate (especially in the red-tops) but I’ve read about and seen enough of her to make up my own mind- this is one seriously screwed up person whose priorities in life are totally out of whack.

I can’t be bothered to go into all the reasons why I find her a horrible, shallow travesty of a person, but she is clearly deeply insecure with no grasp on reality. It makes me chuckle when she’s described as ‘assertive’ (i.e: psychotically self-centred and self-obsessed) or down-to-earth (really?? Really?? don’t these people reflect on her lifestyle and ambitions? Hardly run-of-the-mill are they?)

What really gets my goat however is when she’s described as a role model for women. From all I’ve seen she is dull, humourless, vapid, myopic, totally selfish and wilful. She seems to take no joy in her children, her considerable material priveleges, or anything. She never talks about anything apart from herself. She has very nearly destroyed her face and body in a bid to become ‘perfect’, all the while happy to parade her insecurities in the press and label other women in the public eye who she views as competition ‘slags’, ‘sluts’ and ‘bitches’. Why should her actions and choices be defended when she has thrown herself wholeheartedly into the fray of self-publicity? Every celebrity knows what they are doing when they make that Faustian pact with the media.

Anji // Posted 16 August 2009 at 12:44 pm

Thanks for the feature, Holly! I was a little reticent in posting it at first, as I was expecting to be shot down – it seems there are a lot of people who are happy to go along with tabloid opinion (I got one comment at MFWL telling me this was “one of the worst blog posts [he] had ever read” – I like to take that as a compliment) so I’m glad I’ve got people thinking and even more glad that I’m not the only one who feels this way. :D

Aimee // Posted 16 August 2009 at 2:08 pm

I read that article that the quote was from when I was in the doctor’s surgery (the only time I ever read those vile gossip magazines!) and I thought exactly the same thing. Robbed him of his masculinity? Please. What is this metaphorical ‘masculinity’ of which they speak? His right to dominate? His right to be immune to criticism from a woman? It makes me so angry.

Holly Combe // Posted 16 August 2009 at 5:10 pm

Kate Grace, I take some of your points about the way Katie Price can come across and agree with what you say about the ludicrous “down-to-earth” tag. However, I hardly think she is “a step beyond what normally applies”. In a society that, quite rightly, seeks to be fair and just towards even those who commit terrible crimes of violence against others, I would say Katie Price is a long way from being somehow beyond the pale and deserving of whatever we have to throw at her.

I also disagree she is humourless and “seems to take no joy in her children”. What has she done (or not done?) to indicate this? I’m not suggesting Price/Jordan going on This Morning with Harvey, along with any positive reference she ever makes to her children when being interviewed, somehow proves she is categorically a Caring Mother. That would be naïve, as she is clearly in a business dictating that her every move each time she steps out of the house must be calculated to some extent if she wants to remain a strong brand (or whatever it is that a successful celebrity needs to be). However, I can honestly say I can’t think of anything to suggest her children aren’t a source of happiness to her. What would she need to do to show they are?

The Faustian pact that celebrities apparently make with the media is, in my opinion, acting as an excuse for the aggressive tabloids to bully people in the public eye. They can go to town with the vilest insults that wouldn’t normally be socially acceptable because celebrities are seen as fair game and part of the “media circus” (a form of objectification akin in some ways to harrassing people on the basis of what they wear and saying they “asked for it”?). I think it’s quite a clever ruse on the part of those who champion the apparent rights of press because, of course, flirting with the red-tops is indeed commonly described as dancing with the devil. It seems that once a person takes that step, society thinks the devil is entitled to do whatever it pleases with her.

maggie // Posted 16 August 2009 at 5:34 pm

I too am sick of the St Peter Andre stance that the press are taking. It’s almost as if Katie is Peter’s property!

And aren’t we all familiar with that misogynistic premise? I mean when Peter is seen with another woman he’s ‘moving on’. Yet when Jordan is with a partner, and obviously the pictures will depict her in a sexual embrace, it’s depicted as ‘too much for Peter to bear’.

Bollocks. Jordan is milking it all for she’s worth and hey she’s doing better at raking in the pounds post separation than Peter. Good on her I say.

Not that this impacts on my life in any shape or form as I only read this online, which for the moment is free.

saranga // Posted 16 August 2009 at 6:30 pm

I think it’s irrelevent what we personally think of Katie, as in whether we think she is a good or bad person. Stating that she’s dull, horrible and vapid doesn’t excuse the awful, sexist attacks she is getting in the media.

stroppybird // Posted 18 August 2009 at 4:48 pm

Good points made here about the double standards.

I would though like to disagree re the point about kissing a new partner in front of children so soon after a break up.

Whether its a man or woman I would suggest its best to wait until its clear it is serious.

Those kids are probably confused anyway as to whats happened.

Of course she is entitled to a sex life, but she can do that when the kids are with their dad for example.

My partner has kids and I didnt meet them for over a year. He wanted to make sure I was his partner and was going to stick around in their lives.

Jordan can have as many flings as she wants , and probably better than settling down again anyway too soon, but a series of different men will confuse the kids, especially if they get attached.

Same goes for Peter as well.

Bella // Posted 22 October 2009 at 3:32 pm

Katie Price has prostituted herself to the media. She is a self-made sex object who has tailored herself to the male, heterosexual market. Girl power indeed!

Whilst that is Katie’s right, the media likewise, has a right to have an opinion that does not always side with women. Katie has been condemned because she has behaved in an offensive way towards her ex-husband and other people (including other women, who she often calls ‘slags’) in public and is unapologetic for it- it is that simple.

I don’t think this is a male V female debate. This is about human decency, how people should treat other people. The problem is, Katie is so transparent she says what she thinks and even to the media- I don’t think she’s necessarily it’s just she’s lost all sense of how to play the media game.

She’s lived for the media for so long, and said what they wanted to hear and be who they wanted to see (naked) for so long, she’s totally lost any sense of who she is. She recently sacked her PR- big mistake.

There are younger, prettier models on the scene. Her sell-by date is coming up fast- ‘old hags’ are of no interest to the youth obsessed media. Sexism and ageist-sexism is another matter for another day!..

Katie is a woman who appears to have extreme mental health problems. Her values are superficial- beauty, fame, money. In the end she will always feel empty and lonely because these things do not even offer contentment in the end.

I feel incredibly sorry that she cannot find peace with herself. The media should not cover her life- she is in too fragile a state and this circus that she has invited into her life will not help her. She is trying to put on a front but it won’t stay up forever.

She appears enraged and determined to be rebellious- perhaps she feels she’s been controlled by her publicists- who knows what goes on behind closed doors? It’s just a shame those poor children have to have their lives made into such a public spectacle.

Holly Combe // Posted 23 October 2009 at 12:18 am

Bella, I have no problem with people condemning it if a woman in the public eye calls other women “slags” or says something unfair about her ex. However, I don’t think any behaviour from Katie Price can justify some of the jibes we’ve seen and I certainly don’t think it makes her some kind of exception to the rule where the media is entitled to just let rip with whatever anti-women sexist tripe it wants. You say this is about human decency and how people should treat others. Well, I’d say a good test of human decency is how people treat those they don’t approve of. (Again, I’d say some perspective is called for here. Remind me what terrible crimes against humanity Katie Price has committed?)

I have to say I take issue with this:

“There are younger, prettier models on the scene. Her sell-by date is coming up fast- ‘old hags’ are of no interest to the youth obsessed media. Sexism and ageist-sexism is another matter for another day!”..

No, I’d say sexism and ageist sexism are an issue right here and right now seeing as you seem to be saying all this so uncritically. I know you put “old hags” in quotes and talk of a “youth obsessed” media but you don’t seem to be saying anything to challenge such ideals. If anything, it seems to me that you are gleefully celebrating all this as part of Katie Price’s downfall. Would that be a misinterpretation?

Victoria // Posted 23 October 2009 at 12:33 am

“It makes me chuckle when she’s described as ‘assertive’ (i.e: psychotically self-centred and self-obsessed) or down-to-earth (really?? Really?? don’t these people reflect on her lifestyle and ambitions? Hardly run-of-the-mill are they?)”

Kate Grace,

I don’t see what being self-centred and self-obsessed have to do with psychosis, which is a serious mental illness that two of my close friends have suffered. ‘Psychotic’ is not an adjective that you can use to describe the wacky behaviour of people you don’t like. When you talk about Katie Price being ‘psychotically self-obsessed’, I think of the friend who tried to cut a mole out of her arm and landed herself in hospital because she believed the mole to be a bug that had been planted on her by police. That’s what psychosis looks like. It’s also NOT a flaw in character, as your use of the word suggests. The last thing we need is people perpetuating the myth that psychotic illness is something to do with the sufferer’s personality.

Be aware of ableism in your language, please, and don’t trivialise these problems.

gadgetgal // Posted 23 October 2009 at 10:53 am

@Victoria

Well said – my brother-in-law also has psychosis, and although he can make jokes about how it’s perceived by others I get a little annoyed about the way they do and about the fact that it’s an over-used and misunderstood term! Katie Price can be mean, but I’ve never seen any sign of an actual mental illness about her – she just seems horrible.

Oh, but Peter seems even worse, and a lot more wily about it – looks like his media-spin has outdone hers for the moment. Although I wouldn’t count her out just yet – she’s clawed her way back into the press’ good books before, I’m reckoning she’ll do it again, and soon!

Bella // Posted 23 October 2009 at 8:32 pm

Hi Holly

You’re right- it is a test of people’s decency that they treat people they don’t approve of with respect. I think you’re fighting a lost cause but you obviously have more tolerance and patience with people than I do! To me Katie Price is a parody. Pete’s simply PR-ed the situation better than her.

As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t think she’s necessarily a bad person it’s just she’s lost all sense of how to play the media game.

Of course I don’t take any glee in her getting old or her ‘downfall’- we will all get old! My point is that she is not doing women any favours and never has- she’s submits to the male, heterosexual ideal of what constitutes attractive but fails to see even though she’s played it by their rules she will be no better off for it in the long-run. That male gaze that shapes our culture will still condemn her for something men are never condemned for- getting older.

Sexism, ageism- these subjects really come back to values. Katie has internalised the most superficial values of our culture. I wouldn’t spend any time defending a woman who has made scathing attacks on other women for being ‘ugly’ as she has of Jodie Marsh and countless others. (And then we have that stupid woman, ‘journalist’ Julie Birch who writes pieces for national media debating that very matter-why Jordan is superior and prettier than Jodie- sickening!)

Anyway my point is this: surely there are bigger battles to be fought than Katie Price? I have absolutely no respect for her. I think women like her (‘glamour’ models) do a great deal of damage to hinder the progress of women’s advancement. It’s her life though, if that lifestyle makes you happy go for it. But it doesn’t help our cause.

The fact that the press pays so much attention to her and her like, rather than celebrate women in business, politics etc says a great deal. But the fact that feminists like you take it on yourself not only to get dragged into the ‘debate’ but passionately defend her, well it disturbs me so much that I felt compelled to post on this blog. And I never done that before!

B

saranga // Posted 23 October 2009 at 10:47 pm

@ Bella: Katie Price is not a parody, she is a human being.

Why does it matter whether she is doing women any favours? (and what does that mean anyhow?)

How do you know she doesn’t see the problems inherent in subjecting yourself to the male gaze? You seem to be condeming her for being subjected to the male gaze, for playing by the rules of the patriarchy. Wouldn’t it be more sensible to be condeming the patriarchy instead? Forgive me if I’ve misunderstood you.

You ask if ‘surely there are bigger battles to be fought than Katie Price’. I think all women’s problems that are related to the patriarchy is a battle worth being fought. It shouldn’t matter if you have respect for her or not, we shouldn’t just defend those we like and approve of, surely?

“But the fact that feminists like you take it on yourself not only to get dragged into the ‘debate’ but passionately defend her, well it disturbs me”

Dragged into the debate, interesting choice of words there. As for it disturbing you, well I repeat that Katie Price is a human being. Whether you think she has used her life wisely, and whether or not you agree with her morals, she still deserves respect and compassion. Just like everyone else.

Daniela Vincenti // Posted 24 October 2009 at 1:51 pm

To Holly, saranga, and others,

Excellent points. Part of being a feminist is fighting for the rights of individual women to make choices that are not, in themselves, inherently feminist.

KateGrace // Posted 25 October 2009 at 5:14 am

Bella- thanks for saying exactly what I wanted to say but in a far more lucid and articulate manner!

Victoria- I do indeed know the meaning of ‘psychotic’ and used the word in full awareness. Here is one definition:

Psychosis (from the Greek ψυχή “psyche”, for mind or soul, and -ωσις “-osis”, for abnormal condition) literally means abnormal condition of the mind, and is a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a “loss of contact with reality”. People suffering from psychosis are said to be psychotic.

So yes, I believe Katie Price to show psychotic tendencies in her behaviour and actions. And, not that this should matter, but my father was bipolar (I personally prefer the term ‘manic depressive’) as is my eldest sister whilst another sister suffers from schizophrenia so let’s just say I might know a thing or two about mental health issues and not get drawn into the Oppression Olympics or whatever people like to call it, shall we?

Holly Combe // Posted 28 October 2009 at 5:45 pm

KateGrace: Comparing the opinion that Katie Price’s behaviour indicates she has “lost contact with reality” with the kind of loss of contact with reality that a person experiencing mental illness might go through seems a little tenuous to me. In theory, there might be a few similarities but, in practice, I don’t reckon it’s really fair to make such an assumption and imply the label isn’t problematic when it’s challenged (regardless of whether or not one happens to have family members who are bipolar or schizophrenic).

Anji // Posted 28 October 2009 at 5:53 pm

As someone who actually has a mental illness, and who actually has experienced psychosis, I can say that yes, this armchair diagnosis of certain people as ‘psychotic’ (or ‘sociopathic’ or ‘crazy’ or any one of the myriad terms used for people with mental illness) is offensive.

Having family members with mental illness does not make you an expert on mental illness, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t be or aren’t being ableist against people with mental illnesses. It is in fact a sign of privilege that you, as the privileged class (those without mental disabilities) feel you can throw around a term like ‘psychotic’ and then when challenged, try to hide behind your family members who are part of the oppressed class using them as a shield against being called out on that ableism.

earwicga // Posted 28 October 2009 at 7:07 pm

@ Bella

You wrote “The fact that the press pays so much attention to her and her like, rather than celebrate women in business, politics etc says a great deal.”

Interesting that you used the word ‘business’. I have always seen Katie Price as a very successful business woman. She has several branches of business enterprises comprising of consumers from dirty old men to teenage girls. I am very impressed with her business skills. I may not like what her business interests represent or what they sell, but I cannot say she is a successful business woman, which is what you seem to imply.

Btw, I completely agree with the pieces above written by Anji and Holly. Nice work. I first ‘encountered’ Katie Price when she was on I’m a Celebrity and she came over as a nice person I have to say – but even if she wasn’t, she is being treated very badly. I haven’t watched much else and not read very much the endless gossip, but I have seen a couple of programmes about the charity work Price does with visually impaired children and she came across as very hands on with her projects to me.

All in all, Price hasn’t had very much impact on my life – not really in her demographic – but I think she is treated very unfairly in the media. And it does make me wonder if I could have put up with all that she does without being a shouty bitch every time I left my house, and probably within it as well!

Thank you to those above who are questioning language used around mental illness. Mental illness runs through my family, and affects me personally as well. When I was looking after one of my sisters who had had a total breakdown, one of the saddest things was that she was in essence prejudiced against herself, as she was steeped in mainstream (negative) views about mental illness.

(Another) Victoria // Posted 29 October 2009 at 4:06 pm

I am not particularly interested in defending the choices Price makes, or even defending her right to make them as a woman. To my mind, feminism is not about fighting for a woman’s right to make any choices per se – it’s about equality in the choices we have available to us and such choices not being restricted by the fact that we are not men. That said, I am absolutely appalled by the media treatment of Katie Price, and I don’t think you need to feel any particular admiration for her to recognise how outrageous this is.

As an aside, I am also “friends” with someone on Facebook (“friends” as in I vaguely remember him from junior school and thought he was alright, so didn’t want to actively refuse his Facebook friendship request) who has put comments on his wall about his desire to shag/rape and strangle Price, sentiments which received the support of some of his other Facebook friends. Where do such feelings come from? What is it in our society that is making men like him think making such comments okay, even if they have no basis in what they’d do in reality? All women should feel threatened by what are essentially justifications for sexual and physical violence against us if we don’t play by the rules. This shouldn’t be the world we live in. But hey, for the time being I’m still “friends” with this guy – I am too scared not to be.

Danni Jorgenson // Posted 15 August 2012 at 11:33 am

There’s one thing that stands out to me about all these comments (and, indeed, all the comments generally made about Katie Price and other celebrities who are squarely in the tabloid crosshairs).

All of these comments about diagnosing her mental health, judging her thoughts on anything, on how well she plays the media game have one thing in common. Everyone seems to talk about her in this very familiar way. “Price thinks…” Unless you’re her friend in real, non-media, life, you don’t know what she thinks. All you know is what the media have reported she says, or how they report that she acts, and you’ve jumped to one conclusion or another. Even if you saw her on “I’m a Celebrity…” all you know is what the producers wanted you to think of her. Sometimes I think it would be easier to talk about celebrities in terms of their media personae rather than simply by their names, as if we have any idea what’s actually going on in their lives.

That’s why judging her – judging anyone you don’t personally know – is a dangerous game. We all know the media have their vested interests, that they have their own narratives that they want real life to follow.

And this is all hugely wrapped up in feminism. It’s not an issue for another day, or a small fight that’s taking up too much of feminism’s energy, because the issue is that the media have the power to portray people however they want, and they have repeatedly used this power to reinforce anti-feminist narratives that ultimately shape the way we view the world. And Katie Price is important precisely because she doesn’t make the choices that people seem to think are “right” for someone of her influence and standing. Every time the media report on her, whether they want to lionise her or knock her off the pedestal they put her on, she seems to draw these arguments that are all wrapped up in class and feminism. Just because they’re hard to unpack, doesn’t make them less important. While there are women it’s OK to demonise or look down on because they haven’t done (or been portrayed to do) what an audience of strangers thinks is “right”, feminism will not be over.

Ugh, sorry I’m so rambly this morning.

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