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Don’t expect Times writer Tad Safran to get laid anytime soon – on either side of the pond.

You see, Safran, “a screenwriter who divides his time between London and Los Angeles,” has penned an unapologetically sexist article titled “American Beauty?” In it, he criticizes British women for not putting as much effort into their appearance as their American counterparts. He says:

Women of Britain: Bridget Jones’s Diary is not a documentary. It’s a work of fiction, a fairytale. The fact is that control-top granny pants are simply not a substitute for regular exercise, thoughtful grooming and a healthy diet. Certainly not if you’re single and interested in men.

Although I am American, England has been my home since I was three years old. I now split my time between Los Angeles and London and regularly visit New York. There are many, many differences between the British and the Americans, but none more glaring than UK women’s approach to their own upkeep.

I am a massive fan of British women. UK girls, in my opinion, are the greatest natural beauties in the world…when they’re 17 or 18 years old. The girls I was surrounded by when I was a teenager were sublime roses with lustrous hair, flawless skin, bright eyes and lithe, athletic bodies…These girls looked phenomenal when looking good took no effort. But when British women get to the age where they have to make an effort, they appear unable, or uninterested, in rising to the challenge.

Yes, he went there.

And he does go on, his increasingly inflammatory words wrapping like a noose around his throat. He makes all sorts of generalizations about both societies, claiming, “British mothers do not instruct their daughters the way American mothers do” and “Women in Britain do not help each other. American women have no qualms about telling their friends, in no uncertain terms, when they look like crap, or have put on weight, or are dressed like a bag-lady.” He alleges that most American women spend $1700 a month (!) on beauty maintenance. Which women – The Real Housewives of Orange County?

There’s little a gem of misogynist cruelty in every paragraph. Not even Neil LaBute could create a set piece as vicious as Safran’s dismissal of Sophie, a British woman with whom he was set up on a blind date. He says:

I sat there watching Sophie tuck into a second huge plate of shepherd’s pie and realized why no self-respecting American girl consumes carbohydrates after 2pm. I’m not surprised Sophie was having trouble finding a boyfriend. Regardless of whether she was interested in me or not, she was unwittingly sabotaging her own chances with any man.

Clearly, the guy’s hit a nerve. There are already well over 100 comments posted at the end of the article, each one more incredulous than the last. The ladies at DollyMix are equally outraged: “Tad Safran, thank you for the incredible pile of bullsh** that was your column today in The Times. Personally, I can’t believe The Times would even publish such a misogynistic, judgmental, and disgusting column, but yet there it was, featured on the front page.” Believe it, my friends. This is The Times’ attempt to out-Daily Mail The Daily Mail. No wonder readers have lost respect for “major” newspapers.

In other news:

  • Alexis Petridis gives last night’s Led Zeppelin reunion five stars: “Tonight, however, after a tentative, feedback-scarred opener of “Good Times, Bad Times,” it’s difficult to believe this is a band who have barely played together for the best part of three decades. They sound awesomely tight.”(Guardian)

  • Jon Kelly of BBC NEWS was there and observes: “Perhaps because they have kept the comebacks to a minimum, Zeppelin carry their advanced years better than most groups of similar vintage. Plant, at 59, now exudes an aura of gravitas that lends authority to the band’s more extravagant moments.And Page – Mephistophelean with his black frock coat and explosion of white hair – is an equally commanding presence, an incongruous gardening accident which forced the show to be rescheduled notwithstanding. The erstwhile disciple of Aleister Crowley even looks – whisper it – as though he is enjoying himself.”
  • Stars such as Kate Moss, Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, Marilyn Manson and Evan Rachel Wood, Sir Paul McCartney and Rosanna Arquette, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger, and Jerry Hall all came out for the big show.(Daily Mail)
  • According to The Sun, Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts allegedly made diva demands while on The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Frankly, I don’t find asking for honey and warm water that outrageous for an opera singer.
  • Sugababe Keisha Buchanan on her bandmate Amelle Berrabah‘s attack earlier this week: “Things like that need to happen once in a while so things don’t get boring.” I pray that this quote was taken waaaaay out of context.(Mirror)
  • At a fan’s behest, Newton Faulkner proposed to his girlfriend during a concert.(Mirror)
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Filed Under: British Culture
By Kevin Wicks
Kevin Wicks is the founding editor of Anglophenia.