In an interview, that will most definitely go down in history as an iconic TV moment, journalist Moya Lothian-McLean found out that her opposite, Connor Tomlinson, was being paid £200 to talk about how the gender pay gap doesn’t exist. She was paid nothing.
It was on Sky News that this interesting revelation was made on live TV. The interview was a comment and follow-up on the misogynistic comments Laurence Fox said on GB News about journalist Ava Evans.
Fox, who is an actor-turned-politician, made comments on how Evans was a “little woman”. He said: “Show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman ever, ever, who wasn’t an incel.”
Fox has since been suspended and fired from GB News and Ofcom has started an official investigation after receiving thousands of complaints.
It is uplifting to see that there are real-life consequences to misogynistic behaviour. The public does notice whenever someone abuses their free speech and privileges to degrade a woman on national television, report it and hold the misogynist to account. The actions taken against Laurence Fox are fully justified and appropriate.
However, it is not appropriate how the issue of misogyny as a deep-rooted problem in the UK is spun into a debate on free speech and questioning whether the patriarchy exists or not.
This was exactly the conversation that Moya Lothian-McLean found herself in, as Connor Tomlinson vehemently argued against gender inequalities.
I cannot think of a more iconic, ironic and fitting way to expose exactly how real the inequalities between men and women are.
Exposing the gender pay gap right there on live TV and holding Laurence Fox to account for his misogynistic comments is a step in the right direction. But it won’t change anything when we fail to have the right conversation in the first place. The Sky News interview was never supposed to be about the gender pay gap. The discussion on how deeply ingrained misogyny is in the media industry was dodged by talking about freedom of expression and how the gender pay gap is not real.
Like Moya, I am tired. It is tiring to hear how some people insist on denying gender inequalities and spin sexually degrading comments into issues of censorship.
Misogyny is an endemic problem in the UK, not just in popular culture and media. That is what the conversation should be on. It should never have been about Laurence Fox’s right to express himself freely. The real question is why did he ever think it was okay to degrade a woman on national television? (Hint: the answer is misogyny.)
To deny having the appropriate conversation when it is right there in front of you is misogyny. It is choosing to ignore the testimony of women as if it is not important or deserving to be heard.
Moya Lothian-McLean was offered a compensatory fee of £75, which was increased to £200. Sky News might have learned that next time they should offer their contributors equal and fair pay, but when is the systemic change coming?
Lothian-McLean said she would be donating the money to the organisation Beyond Equality, which educates young men on how to embrace positive masculinity. Something Connor Tomlinson and Laurence Fox could need.
Feature image credit: work180