Can We Stop With The Cringe ‘Political Wife’ Photo-Ops?

Another G7 summit, another staged picture of the political WAGs.

G7 Summit

by Hanna Woodside |

Last year, pictures of Carrie Johnson and Jill Biden playing on a beach with Johnson's young son Wilfred, got people's backs up for peddling a 'tedious, anachronistic, trope of womanhood'. This year? The huns – sorry, political spouses – are enjoying some Aperol Spritzes on an unidentified terrace. The vibe is very much 'lifestyle segment on a daytime TV show'.

As for the G7 leaders – the nationally-elected leaders of some of the planet's wealthiest democracies, all of who are male – their photos show them sleeves-rolled up at the conference table, fixing the world. (Shout out to Ursula von der Leyn, president of the European Commission, who does get to muscle in on the boy's club.)

But, wait, the political partners aren't just passive bystanders! Here they are on a hike, looking like an advert for Centre Parcs / a Millets catalogue.

In case you were wondering who that rogue man is, the WAGs were accompanied on their walk by three generations of the Neureuther ski family (a Big Deal in the Nordic Walking world FYI), including Christian Neureuther (far left in the picture below) and his daughter-in-law Miriam, who carried her child in a baby carrier.

Of course, neither of these activities are inherently problematic. Sipping a spritz? Delightful. Going for a nice walk? Perfectly fine! But why do we need to see the partners of world leaders doing anything at all? Why must they be lumped together and snapped in a series of team-bonding activities, like a corporate away day? It's naff, forced and, however bland these carefully choreographed moments are engineered to be, still wide open to misinterpretation.

On the agenda at this year's G7 summit – in addition to the war in Ukraine and global food security – is 'advancing gender equality'. Give me strength. Staging cheesy photo ops with the female spouses of world leaders feels particularly jarring (and well, pointless) when the optics of such a disproportionately male-dominated global leadership speaks volumes about the reality of gender equality today.

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