Monitor; All the News of the World: Female role models
Saturday 14 November 1998
of acceptable role models for today's teenage girls
ROLE MODELS are very important. Leading by example can inspire people to high achievement. But is a pop star or an actress the right person for teenage girls to follow? We have nothing against Geri Halliwell (until she sings). But she's all image and no substance. Girls should be encouraged to model themselves on nurses, businesswomen or teachers. That's what they should wannabe.
LIKE SOME girlie mag in need of yet another pathetic face-lift, the women's unit was yesterday relaunched by that bevy of women ministers, Jowell, Jay and Liddell. The ever-earnest Ms Jowell has just been politically empowered to make the staggering revelation that many girls are more likely to look up to their mothers than to pop stars. Such condescending guff demeans both government and women. New Labour's apology for a women's unit - an idea whose time has gone - is dwindling into the politics of gesture at its most patronising.
THE BIGGEST achievement of the Women's Unit will be if it manages to co-ordinate thinking across departments without creating a bureaucratic burden of its own. Too often policy is made or laws passed that, out of thoughtlessness rather than malice, are worse for women than for men. But the test for this administration will be if joined-up thinking is turned into joined-up action. The final test of success will be when a Women's Unit is genuinely no longer needed at all.
TEENAGE GIRLS, patronisingly cast as a tribe of Spice Girl groupies, were depressed. So, one hopes, was the Women's Unit, undermined by a paradox of its own devising. Its better ideas were reasonably aired in serious newspapers beloved of the Seventies feminists whose priorities it has remaindered. Ordinary girls and women, its new targets, would only have inferred that the new aim is the Barbiefication of Britain - an outcome best described, in male tribal parlance, as a spectacular own goal.
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