Yesterday, we were deeply saddened to report that designer L’Wren Scott was found dead of an apparent suicide. While most fashion outlets covered the death with sadness and respect, mainstream coverage betrayed an upsetting gender bias that put Scott in the limelight in relation to her famous partner, Mick Jagger, instead of in her own right.
Everyday Sexism has a collage of some of the headlines, and in my time covering Scott’s death yesterday, I can tell you that this was the norm, not the exception:
— EverydaySexism (@EverydaySexism) March 18, 2014
If you’d believe the headlines popping up all over the internet, L’Wren Scott didn’t die, Mick Jagger’s girlfriend did. Most headlines didn’t even print her name. By defining Scott only as the girlfriend to a famous man, it erases her entire identity that existed before him and separately from him. Scott had a decades-long career in the fashion industry, spanning modeling, styling, and eventually designing her successful eponymous line. All of this was ignored.
It doesn’t matter that Jagger is more famous than Scott, who admittedly was not a household name in the way Jagger is. It’s about the way that defining her only as a famous dude’s girlfriend erases her from the picture. This is reminiscent of that old “mothers, daughters, wives, and sisters” phrase used so often to define women, as if the only way to make women relevant or valuable is to define them in relation to other people, most frequently to men.
Regardless of L’Wren Scott’s accomplishments, she existed outside of her relationship with a famous man, but that’s a less grabby narrative. Even had she not been the accomplished and beloved fashion figure that she was, she still would have been a person outside of the identity of “Mick Jagger’s girlfriend.” She was a person with a name and a life and she died, and we’re more concerned with her famous boyfriend than with her. Today’s top story relating to Scott is that The Rolling Stones canceled a show to grieve.
I understand that big names like Mick Jagger drive traffic to posts, but it doesn’t seem all that difficult to give the dead the most basic amount of common decency and use her damn name, and not the more famous man she dated. Mick Jagger’s girlfriend may have died, but that’s incidental to the fact that L’Wren Scott died yesterday, and it should be reported as such.
Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images