On Sunday, a large UK newspaper reported that a Conservative MP had claimed deputy leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner, tries to distract the prime minister by crossing and uncrossing her legs while sitting on the front bench in the Commons. The article has now been widely criticised for its misogynistic underpinnings but has brought fresh awareness of a deeply rooted problem.

Since Sunday it has been encouraging to see the cross-party condemnation of the news article about Angela Rayner, including from the prime minister himself. However, the issue goes much deeper than this one incident. At the heart of the problem is the way that media outlets all too often portray women in a problematic way and too many read these portrayals without question. Newspapers and magazines are full of remarks about the bodies of women in roles of public leadership. Women’s bodies are regularly sexualised and weaponised within the media, often when women are innocently going about their life or trying to fulfil their job.

When our media degrades woman by making everything about their bodies, it takes away from their achievements and genuine talents. Young women and girls look on and see that women in the spaces they aspire to fill are all too often harshly judged on choices relating to outfits, hair styles and makeup, or fall victim to unfounded rumours. This results in women and girls shying away from roles of public leadership.

If we are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we need to be quick to challenge and condemn unhelpful portrayals of women in the media.


Time and time again throughout His life and ministry, Jesus treats women with a dignity that they were not receiving from the rest of society. He goes beyond seeing a sexualised female body and sees a woman as worthy of as much grace as their male counterpart. And then He uses that woman to advance His kingdom.

Even in interactions with women whose reputation lay solely on their body and how it was used, Jesus showed that their value was in deeper things. Luke 7:36 – 50 speaks of a woman who was a sinner” (v37) washing the feet of Jesus. While the pharisees looked on in confusion and disapproval, Jesus looked at this woman and recognised something that they did not – she was a person of great worth to God. He showed her grace and compassion, and forgave her sins.

During a time where women were marginalised and left out of public discussions, He welcomed them into conversations, gave them a place at the table and used them to be part of building His kingdom.

There is much we can learn from Jesus’ conduct towards women. He never pointed the finger and accused women of being distractions”; He dignified women by speaking to them, healing them and forgiving them; and He gave women a role in public life (displayed in the many women who became some of Jesus’ first evangelists).

So what do we do when the media (or even our politicians) devalue women?

We stop consuming

A couple of years ago I made the active decision to stop clicking on any links to news articles from a particular newspaper. There were often articles I did not agree with in this newspaper but the final straw for me was when they reported on a female celebrity’s experience of domestic abuse in an inexcusably inappropriate manner. It is a small act of defiance, and I am only one person, but if we all stopped clicking links and buying papers with degrading stories, media outlets will eventually make very little money from printing these stories. We can change what the media publishes by changing what we consume.

We speak out

Across all social media platforms, there seems to be a never-ending chain of gossip articles and posts. What would happen if we refused to share gossip stories, and instead used our social media accounts to challenge the attitudes of our friends and followers towards women in the public eye?

We celebrate the wins of women

When women in positions of public leadership do something well, we should applaud them – celebrating their victories with them and letting them know that they have a role in public leadership that is defined by so much more than their bodies.

Jesus’ life communicates exceptionally clearly that the worth of women is defined by more than just their bodies. Their worth is instead defined by the fact that they are loved by God and made in His image.

What would news articles look like if this truth was reflected across UK media?