Uproar this week as a human woman, with breasts, sat on a bench. In a room with other people, no less! It was the first time a stills photographer was allowed into the House of Commons and didn't Theresa May 'make the most of it'. While the annual budget discussion was playing out around her, the U.K.'s longest serving Home Secretary since 1892 had more important things on her mind - like how best to 'distract' the men around her and how well she could 'pull focus' from the politics in order to 'spice up' the 2016 budget.
EYE ROLL EYE ROLL EYE ROLL.
There's a large portion of the Twittersphere that could use a firm shake by the shoulders. When Theresa May selected her red business suit, I'm pretty sure her overwhelming thought wasn't 'my breasts, how can I remind everyone about my breasts?!' This isn't to say she was definitely musing on higher plains (she might have just been thinking about what to eat for breakfast), but the point is that the huge furore around her distracting lady parts proooobably wasn't her intention. If anything I can imagine it's quite distressing to have your professional role completely discounted in favour of some lurid chat about your tits.
One thing that really worries me here is that a lot of the criticism May's sartorial choices garnered came from women; 'Put [your] baps away darling, we all have a pair.' How are we supposed to make any feminist progress if we're tearing each other down? I'm pretty sure the people fighting for equality weren't imagining a future where both males and females could be EQUALLY shitty to women.
In a world of fast news and fast opinion it's easy to latch on (no pun intended) to fine details rather than focusing on the bigger picture. If more people were hashtagging the budget to talk about the budget, maybe more of us would be paying attention to it instead of spending time discussing people being weird about boobs on the Internet.
It makes me think of a quote I read a long time ago and found really relevant. It went something like: 'Your first thought is what you've been conditioned to think. Your second thought defines who you are.' I quite like this as I'm definitely not above a snap reaction - I don't think anyone is - but I do feel bad when it happens. We all do it, whether it's about clothing or anything else about another person. But our truer opinions should win out when we have the chance to mull things over for more than half a second. In this situation I think it would ring bells for a lot of people. We've been undeniably conditioned by the media to see women as sex objects; your first thought might be 'omg lol boobs' but for most of us I don't think we'd write that down as our take home message.
While social media is a pretty instantaneous way to express yourself, and I'm glad we have it, why are so many people throwing out these first thoughts? Surely with any amount of consideration you can see the reaction is unfair. The woman is wearing a two piece suit not leaping onto the nearest table and twerking in George Osborne's face.
Sadly, the negative reaction to Theresa May's wardrobe decision is actually the considered thought of some people. They're entitled to their opinion... but I'd urge them to ponder where it came from.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.