Men are mocked “every bit as bad if not worse” than women in political satire, according to a well-known caricature artist.
Niall O’Loughlin was speaking after the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) said a newspaper cartoon depicting the Sinn Féin leader as a witch was “deeply sexist.”
The cartoon in yesterday’s Sunday Independent shows Mary Lou McDonald pouring a packet labelled ‘Sinn Féin frenzy’ into a bubbling cauldron with ‘electorate’ written across it.
This disgraceful depiction of Mary Lou McDonald as a witch is a cynical, misogynistic trope that resonates at the power core of all women.
I am asking all politicians to condemn this sexist and hurtful depiction of the leader of the largest political party on our island./ pic.twitter.com/VEaCi79TsB
— Réada Cronin TD (@ReadaCronin) March 21, 2021
On Lunchtime Live this afternoon, Mr O’Loughlin sad everyone in the public eye is “potentially fair game” for satirical cartoonists.
“Politicians, since time began, have been fair game for satire,” he said.
“Every single paper - everything - men are constantly getting it. Varadkar, everyone, all of them are constantly getting it in the neck. It is part of the job.
We are the granddaughters of the witches you could not burn - Deal with it #womenpower
— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) March 21, 2021
He said “there is a line” when it comes to satire and said he understands that women in politics tend to be judged differently to men.
“This whole thing about commenting on what a woman wears and stuff, I don’t agree with any of that,” he said.
“You don’t see that with men and there is still that level of misogyny that does exist – but don’t destroy satire.
“Men get it every bit as bad if not worse and you know what, it is a compliment to Mary Lou and it is a compliment to women to see how far she has come.
“To see a woman in the newspaper; to see her represented like that – because normally it is all men, men, men and I think it is fantastic that she has risen so high and is doing so well.”
Mr O’Loughlin said the Sunday Independent cartoon “fitted the narrative” of the page, which included a piece accusing Sinn Féin of masterminding a ‘witch hunt’ against the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
“People are talking about the picture but if you read the piece, it opens with the ‘witch hunt’ on Leo Varadkar so, as a cartoonist, that particular image fits the narrative of it,” said
“On a wider scale, we are talking about Mary Lou. She is the leader of Sinn Féin. I can guarantee you that will be water off a duck’s back to her. It wouldn’t bother her.”
He said it has become difficult for artists and publishers to say or do anything without facing backlash.
“Everything has become sanitised from cartoons to news presenters – some of the stuff you read if anybody has an opinion that is outside the norm - this is just another example of the sanitisation of literally everything.
“This particular cartoon, I don’t think it would bother Mary Lou in the slightest and I think it is brilliant the fact that she is the leader of a party the size of Sinn Féin.”