By Lauren Thompson
BIG DEAL: Britain’s first female Beefeater at the Tower of London
A PHOTOGRAPH of Prince William’s new bodyguard – who happens to be a woman – featured on the front page of the Sunday Times this week.
The headline read: “Girl Power: William gets close protection”.
“Prince William leaves the Embassy club in London… accompanied by his two new female police protection officers,” read the caption.
Is it really newsworthy that a royal bodyguard is female? I doubt there would ever be a headline entitled “Boy Power” to point out William had two male bodyguards. Perhaps the fact that the bodyguard pictured was a young, attractive blonde woman helped to get the story on the front page.
It got me thinking about other women in traditionally male jobs that have featured in the news this year – and the prejudices and criticisms they have faced.
Britain’s first female Beefeater at the Tower of London, Moira Cameron, hit the headlines in September for shattering 500 years of tradition. When interviewed by the press, she said: “I had one chap at the gate who said he was completely and utterly against me doing the job.”
In April, Jacqui Oatley became the first woman commentator on TV’s Match Of The Day. An internet campaign to fire Oatley, imaginatively entitled “Woman Commentator On MotD – Go Back To The Kitchen,” gained 3,172 members in one week. Many sexist commentators, including Jimmy Greaves in The Sun, appeared to be dumbfounded by her appointment and lamented back to an age when “Men were men, women were women and we knew who each other were.”
Another Jacqui, Britain’s first home secretary, came under fire in the first week of her job for – god forbid – having breasts. Several derogatory remarks were made about Ms Smith’s (barely visible) cleavage when she addressed the House of Commons regarding the Glasgow airport terror attack. She rightly told such journalists to “get over yourselves.”
We may have female bodyguards and football commentators, but the controversy surrounding their appointment shows how far women still have to go.