So, the cover story in Guardian Weekend yesterday (yes, I am that desperately middle class) was an interview with Laura Hall, who apparently 'became the poster-girl for Booze Britain' after getting an alcohol asbo last year.
Having missed that vital bit of news myself, reading this feature over breakfast was really just a way to haul my sleepy brain into the land of the living via a nice cup of tea. But it did yield a good hit of righteous indignation (which, after all, is what your average Guardian reader is going for on a Saturday morning) when I got to this little gem:
“Last year district judge Bruce Morgan said of her 29 drink-fuelled convictions: 'I don't think I have seen a more deplorable record … A female with a record like this – it's absolutely despicable and represents all that is rotten in society nowadays.'”
I'm sorry? I mean, I know your stereotypical judge is a crusty old dinosaur who thinks it's ok to say things like this, but seriously? The quiet misogyny of it was just breathtaking: the idea that violent alcohol abuse might somehow be acceptable from thrusting young men, but when a 'female' starts doing it – not even a woman, mind, but a female – well, then clearly something is very wrong indeed and she should probably be burned as a witch. And these are the people in charge of administering justice in this country! Sigh.
Incidentally, the fact that the journalist was quite happy to blithely quote this remark and move on without further comment really does make me wonder. Apparently, he (or his editors, I suppose) figured we'd all be more interested in gasping at how many pints she could down over lunch, so the article ended up reinforcing those prejudices rather than challenging them. I mean, yes, I get that it was a personal profile and not a piece of political commentary. But you'd think that with 3,000 words to play with on this supposed symbol of 'ladette culture', they could have found just a bit of space to ask why she's achieved such notoriety basically for being female whilst in charge of an alcohol problem.