Mothers for Women’s Lib on Press Treatment of Katie Price
Holly Combe // 15 August 2009
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.
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.