Opinion: more than just a pretty face

We’re used to seeing the media discuss women in terms of their attractiveness, no more so than when those women are in politics. And ordinarily the subjects of this interest are firmly on the politicians. Has Ann Wideombe lost weight since she entered Strictly Come Dancing? Is Caroline Flint too sexy? I could go on and on. But now the media have a new subject, (you can almost hear their excited cheers) the women behind the scenes. The focus has shifted to researchers.

Since allegations about Mike Hancock’s researcher arose in the Sunday Times (and previously in the summer recess) the media have been dragging up images of Ms Zatuliveter to illustrate that beautiful women are not to be trusted.

Ms Zatuliveter is an attractive woman, so it must follow that her appointment as Mike Hancock MPs researcher must have been based on her looks. That is the view of tabloid hack, Eve Pollard. Speaking on today’s Politics Show Eve Pollard suggested that Ms Zatuliveter isn’t qualified to work in the House of Commons. No, two degrees, a specialised interest in your boss’s work and a strong work ethic just aren’t enough. You see, for all of Ms Zatuliveter’s achievements, regardless of allegations that have been made against her, it is her looks that void her of her ability to do her job.

Eve Pollard went on to say that if she was a newspaper editor, she’d have photographers based outside of Westminster on Monday morning to photograph female researchers entering work because it would be “interesting to see”.

Why would it be “interesting to see” Eve? Ah yes it is because you are certain that there will be endless pictures of young attractive female researchers entering Portcullis House. And these girls would all be so thick that they’d trip up over their own faces.

I’m furious at the suggestion that female researchers are employed based on their looks, rather than their ability. Competition for jobs in Westminster is fierce. To get a job as a researcher you will have had to have worked extremely hard, often dedicating months and months interning for free.I don’t see young women waltzing into these jobs, I see them working very hard like their male colleagues.

Alex Scott is a party member, a researcher to a Lib Dem MP and an assistant to an MEP.

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19 Comments

  • I wonder how Claudia Winkleman (Eve Pollard’s daughter) got her job with the BBC? Was it her good looks or her degree in Art HIstory from Cambridge?

  • patrick murray 7th Dec '10 - 2:31pm

    thank you for this article, great post. have been extremely disappointed in the reaction here and elsewhere, to put it mildly.

  • Liberal Neil 7th Dec '10 - 2:34pm

    Well said.

  • Yup. Agreed. I was pretty sickened by the slurring and innuendo apparent in all the coverage.

  • Just look at how she describes herself!
    http://www.mademan.com/chickipedia/eve-pollard/

    Is she perhaps hinting that this is how she got her job so she judges every other woman the same ?

  • Lorna Spenceley 7th Dec '10 - 3:34pm

    Well said, Alex.

  • Thank you for your kind comments. The cynical position of the media really irks me. It feeds into this notion that MPs are sleazy, and that their staff members are there for their own amusement. It’s ridiculous.

    We should be encouraging women in politics and behaviour like this will only add further barriers to women progressing in politics. I imagine women considering putting themselves forward for positions in the political arena will be put off by coverage over the past few days. I would have been.

  • The irony is that Ms Zatuliveter is not an attractive woman – she looks emaciated in many of her photos. Because she is young, blonde and exotic, there is a near universal assumption that she must be beautiful – when she actually isnt at all.

    The author of this article on the other hand… 😉

  • I agree absolutely with your comments but surely it is inconceivable that spymasters wishing to instigate a honeytrap would use unattractive women.

  • I thoroughly agree with everything you’ve said, except your implication that judgment based on looks is limited to females in Westminster.

  • Tony Greaves 7th Dec '10 - 6:30pm

    And no doubt we have all noted that the emphasis on this young woman’s physical appearance has been led by the gutter-slimes on the Guardian which in two days has taken up the space of a whole page with just three pictures of her supplied by some “East2West” news agency. So who funds that news agency, who took the pics (a former boyfriend of Ms Zatuliveter perhaps?) and who has paid who for them?

    In two days of hard coverage there is not a single hard fact in the Guardian’s coverage, just a load of tittle tattle. Apart from the massive scoop of four parliamentary questions! I wonder how much journalistic skill it took to dig those out from Hansard (they are even on the web!)

    There may be a hard story behind all this but it has not emerged yet and looks unlikely to do so. It has all the hallmarks (and nasty smell) of an organised smear campaign against Mike Hancock, run by MI5 and their friends, not least their contacts in the Labour Party. You can see why they don’t like him, and his views on Russia may be wrong, wholly or in part. But that is no reason for attacking him through a researcher who was allowed to come to this country to study and who was given security clearance by the parliamentary authorities, who take their time about it.

    Tony Greaves

  • What can I say, but, agree wholeheartedly.

  • @Tony Greaves

    “It has all the hallmarks (and nasty smell) of an organised smear campaign against Mike Hancock, run by MI5 and their friends, not least their contacts in the Labour Party. ”

    And your evidence for this?

  • Since allegations about Mike Hancock’s researcher arose in the Sunday Times (and previously in the summer recess) the media have been dragging up images of Ms Zatuliveter to illustrate that beautiful women are not to be trusted.

    I thought thay were doing it because they like excuses to print a photo of a pretty face.

    And to try to implicate an MP in something slightly sleazy.

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