NUJ calls out “sexist” Spectator column

  • 30 Apr 2024

The chairs of the union’s Ethics and Equality Councils have written to the editor of the Spectator over a “sexist and degrading” column published by the magazine.

A letter has been sent to Fraser Nelson, Spectator editor, by Professor Chris Frost, chair of the NUJ’s Ethics Council, and Cristina Lago, co-chair of the NUJ’s Equality Council, complaining about a column written by Lloyd Evans.

The article about visiting Cambridge to watch a lecture by Lea Ypi described the political scientist in “sexist and degrading” terms and then went on to describe a visit to a prostitute in what Evans described as the “rougher” end of the city.

Lea Ypi posted on X: “Advice for scholars. Next time you lecture on Kant and revolutions at Downing (@DarwinCollege) Cambridge, make sure your hair is neatly tied and that you're not blonde. Or else your research impact will be on the @spectator libido section.”  She has received support from fellow academics who described the column as “dismal, embarrassing, chauvinist rubbish” and similarly outraged posts on Mumsnet among others.

The NUJ letter said:

“One would have hoped that the demise of the egregious High Life column would have been the ideal opportunity to consign this sort of sexist, racist, xenophobic and misogynist content in your magazine to the bin where it belongs. Therefore, we, and many others, were extremely disappointed and gravely concerned that you sanctioned the publication of Lloyd Evans’s column to maintain the Spectator’s Taki (tacky) reputation.

“Mr Evans’s descriptions of Ms Lea Ypi and the prostitute he said he paid to have sex with him are not only degrading and appalling, but they also rely upon sexist tropes that disregard any editorial ethical standards – including press regulator Ipso’s Editors’ Code of Practice, of which The Spectator is a member...

“Whereas we do not speak for Ms Ypi, we feel an apology is needed. We also think that The Spectator must ensure that this kind of sexist and degrading content is not printed in your magazine again.”

The councils’ chairs ended the letter saying: “At the NUJ’s Ethics and Equality Councils, we are eager to work with you to equip your journalists with the necessary tools to avoid this kind of shortcomings from happening again.”

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