Call me oldfashioned, but the screaming headline 'You'd think I could GET A DATE' over an interview with the actress Kim Cattrall does kind of infer she was discussing her frustration at being single.
So quelle surprise to find she actually told Saturday's Daily Mail it wouldn't be the end of the world if she didn't find a (fourth) husband because 'I'm free to do what I want..My big passion these days is my work.' Hmm.
So far, so normal: newspaper brings a successful (ok, forget about Sex & the City 2) woman down a peg or two by inferring that she might have an enviable career but hell, nobody wants to sleep with her. The Cattrall piece is unusual only in the sheer determination required to slap a 'woe is me' headline on these quotes.
So I'd have left it there but for opening the Times's review section to a Tracey Emin interview headlined 'I've got my sex drive back.' What followed was an intelligent and balanced interview, under a weirdly phew-what-a-scorcher headline.
Sexism again, deliberately reducing women to the level of you-would-wouldn't-you rather than taking their professional lives seriously? You'd think so, but for the awkward truth that firstly much of Emin's work is about her sex life, and secondly a male artist who said he was now dying to 'go out and f*** the world' would doubtless also find it made the headline. (See Lynn Barber's interview with Rupert Everett in the Sunday Times mag the next day: headline 'I used to be so sexually driven, but that's completely turned off'. Maybe Emin could give him some tips).
The issue isn't just sexism: it's sexuality as commodity. I know why sub-editors write headlines like this, because it automatically makes more people want to read it. I just did the same in this blog title. Feel conned? Well, me too.
This will sound as if I want to rush around covering up piano legs lest they give rise to impure thoughts, but it would be nice if occasionally writing could be sold on the back of something - anything - other than the obligatory saucy Sex Quote.
As a journalist, you're always relieved to get it (hurrah! now I know I'll be able to get this dreary interview with actor hyping film/model who is the new Face of National Prune Week/preview of the Budget in the paper). But it would just vary the tone a little if occasionally the same headline importance was given to, I dunno, art. Or work. Or money (Emin's attitude to her wealth is fascinating). Or power. Or whatever.
Except it won't happen, because as newspapers go digital the one surefire way to get your article clicked on is to make 'sex' a keyword. Stand by for much, much more of this.