It’s not journalism, it’s harassment: solidarity surrounds Samantha Armytage

How could anything remotely positive stem from a woman enduring the ignominy of being followed by photographers and having images of her going about her Sunday splashed across the internet, calling for particular attention to be paid to her underwear? It seems oxymoronic to suggest there is any upside.

But if there is a sliver of a silver lining, it is that the Daily Mail’s most recent treatment of television host Samantha Armytage has been met with almost-universal condemnation.

The fact The Australian’s Chris Kenny agreed with Fairfax columnist and author Clementine Ford on the subject is incontrovertible proof: to say consensus between these two is a rarity is an understatement.

The Daily Mail didn’t just publish the photographs of Sunrise’s Armytage on Sunday: it ran an ‘article’ alongside the images analysing her love life, her choice of clothes – underwear included - and her lack of make-up under the headline “Sam Armytage’s giant granny panties show a visible line”.

It is not journalism: it’s harassment. It’s not par for the course. It is an exercise in attempted humiliation.

And it’s toxic. Aside from the intrusion in Armytage’s life and the personal toll it could take, it reinforces the idea that a woman’s appearance is everything: that it’s open to being publicly dissected and examined.

The fact tabloid journalism isn’t new doesn’t confirm its validity.

It is true that Sunrise host Samantha Armytage isn’t the only person The Daily Mail subjects to this treatment. But it’s also true that it’s hard to find a man or woman scrutinised as often as she is, in the manner she is.  

On the weekend Samantha didn’t “dare to bare” her underwear or anything else: she went shopping with clothes on.

Someone “dared” to take her photo and someone else “dared” to scrutinise it to bring attention to her choice of underwear – reportedly swimmers. At this stage, most Australians who have weighed in, agree it is those two choices we need to examine – not Samantha’s.

The solidarity for Samantha Armytage doesn't render "undie-gate" remotely palatable but it is worth recognising. Proof of the outpouring of support for Sam Armytage and distaste for The Daily Mail is here:      

Who is up for putting out their granny undies?

Georgina Dent

Georgina Dent is a Contributing Editor at Women's Agenda. She began her working life as a lawyer before building a career in journalism as an editor, reporter and recognised advocate for women. Follow her on Twitter here and Facebook here.    

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