Natascha McElhone: it’s time to find an app for gender equality

The other day I woke up very early and started reading a script. It was pretty good: thoughtful, political, about a newspaper after the Leveson inquiry. The female character I was reading for was an editor in her late thirties – let’s call her Sophie – and she was described thus: “Sophie enters frame and walks towards us, she is surprisingly attractive for such a powerful woman.”

Various other alarm bells started ringing throughout the household rather than the “casual sexism” one. I wonder how internalised this has become as I find myself needing to cut adrift from mainstream television, music and an incessant barrage of images which, however much I opt out, still find their way scrolling up the side of my computer screen.

I made breakfast and cajoled various small people into finishing homework so we could set off for school. As I pulled my bike into the kerb a bloke shouted out: “Milf!” My sons assumed he was appreciating a character I was playing in something – I don’t really hear that stuff and who cares anyway? A woman near the drop-off nudged me and smiled conspiratorially: “Quite flattering: you don’t expect that after a sweaty bike ride!”

Another instance of sexism being increasingly internalised, accepted? I don’t know, but it feels normal.

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