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Paris Lees

Why Bullying Snobs Need to Shut Up About Josie Cunningham's Abortion

If you're pro-choice, you have to accept the reasons for people's choices.

Josie Cunningham, who's not made many friends this week (Screengrab via The Mirror)

It's been five minutes since I checked, so I'm not completely up to speed with what her detractors are saying about her on Twitter, but from what I can gather there are a lot of people out there who think Josie Cunningham is a vile, deluded, selfish, heartless, spineless, irrelevant whore; a universally hated dog in need of a very harsh vet. Did I mention she has man hands? Josie Cunningham has man hands, and she used them to crawl out of whatever gutter she was born in because she’s a fame-hungry moron who won’t accept her lot despite having literally the ugliest tits anyone has ever seen. She probably can’t even spell her own name and that's just as well, because someone has recently renamed her Josie CUNTingham. If that were my name, I wouldn’t want to know how to spell it either. So yeah: fuck Josie Cunningham. Or pray for her. These dudes are.


Her crime? She wants to be famous. Clearly she is the first woman in Britain with the sufficient audacity to express this disgusting desire. Never mind Jessie J and Rita Ora and whatsherface off of EastEnders and all those other women who presumably were hungry enough for fame that they went out and got it. They probably have nice tits. Josie’s don’t make the grade though, so she doesn’t get to be famous. She should just stay in Leeds and shut up.

I admit it’s not easy to sympathise with Josie. She has a knack for saying things that piss people off. You may remember her from last year as the woman said she wanted a breast reduction on the NHS. Following breast augmentation on the NHS. In a period of public spending cuts when everyone's skint. Again, Josie hardly warms people to her when she appears at events wearing little more than a bit of tape over her nipples, emblazoned with the NHS logo. Not exactly the fastest route to an OBE, is it? Her latest affront to humanity has been to discuss her plans to have an abortion so that she can appear on Big Brother. Thus a national hate figure is born. Rejoice, for you may express your most extreme misogyny and hypocrisy with impunity. We’ve found someone who deserves it. A woman. A slag and a bitch.

As I was reading Josie’s story on the Mirror's website, I clicked on a link on the right-hand side which read, “Millie Mackintosh poses with The Saturdays' Vanessa White and shows us every inch of leg possible”. I won't link through but as you can probably imagine it’s a story celebrating two young women showing off their bodies, with a photo of one of them in a bikini thrown in for good measure. The Mirror has more stories. There’s Taylor Swift, for example, who “brightens our day with flowery dress, matching headband and” – here’s the important bit – “a whole lot of leg”. Then there’s Cara Delevingne, who “shocks the world with VERY raunchy snap of her flaunting almost everything in spanx”. Almost everything! Almost her clit! Then we have TOWIE's Jasmin Walia, who “poses up a storm in skimpy bikini on holiday in Dubai” and Cara Delevingne, again, showing off her “nude bum in lacy see through skirt on Instagram”. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift “shows off her bikini body on tropical island” and Kate Upton nearly suffers an “embarrassing wardrobe malfunction” as she “struggles to contain her cleavage”.


Culture, I’m confused. Do we celebrate young women who take off their clothes? Or do we despise them? Or does it all depend on which woman is taking her clothes off? And, if so, how does the woman find out, beforehand, which sort of woman she is – and if she is likely to be celebrated or despised? Perhaps there's someone at the Mirror they can call to clarify?

Slut shaming aside, if you believe a woman has the right to choose abortion then you really need to accept that it is her choice. Not yours. There might be any number of reasons a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy. I suspect there’s more than a whiff of snobbery when people pile in to judge Josie for her plans to abort her baby. What would the reaction be if she were a little more refined, a little less Northern, a little less fake-tanned? If she’d been talking to the Lady instead of the Mirror? If her language were more delicate? She says she’s “a good mum” but “this is ­something I have wanted for so long. I can’t give up my big break for anything”. What if "big break" referred to training as a barrister, or a surgeon, rather than a stint in the Big Brother house? Would people be admiring Josie for her steely determination and fearlessness in the face of tough personal decisions?

Josie needn’t expect any admiration from Nicola McClean. I had no idea who this person was until I saw her slagging off Josie on Twitter but, looking at her profile, they don't seem so very different. I googled Nicola, who has hundreds of thousands of followers, to see why she’s such a big deal and I found out she once lived off Prosecco and Diet Coke while battling an eating disorder – a story the Star has illustrated with several photos of her posing in her underwear, legs wide open and lips parted. She’s a glamour model and “media personality” whose contributions to public life include a stint on I’m a Celebrity… and Celebrity Big Brother. She entered the jungle in 2008 when Josie was 17 and is exactly the sort of woman Josie, as an adolescent, may well have looked up to as a success story. Nicola seems to be having a good life now, with a footballer husband and a presenting gig on Loaded TV. She, like Josie, has two sons. She also had an operation when she was a child to correct a “bad squint”. It’s not my place to say if this squint was cosmetic but I’m pretty sure squints aren’t life threatening. But she had it done. On the NHS! The bloody NHS paying for things that aren’t cancer. Utter bastards.


Still, Nicola tweeted that she is: "Totally outraged reading about that stupid slag that wants an abortion so she can go on big brother !!! She doesn't deserve children." It’s funny because, while Josie said that one of her reasons for considering an abortion was so she could appear on BB, she also cites the children she already has and her desire to give them the best in life: “I want it for myself but I want it for my boys… I love them and I want to be able to buy them the most expensive toys and to give them nice holidays. People will criticise me but I’m a good mother.” No one seems to be talking about that bit.

In this sea of condemnation, I was disappointed to see dashing Dr Christian Jessen pile in. I like Dr Christian. He’s the sort of chap I wouldn’t mind as my doctor. I can only imagine how I’d feel, though, if my GP went around retweeting people who call Josie a "vile human being". I had a quick chat with him today and he said he wasn’t judging Josie for having an abortion but the fact that she’s bragging about it so publicly: “I don’t think it’s going to help women who are considering an abortion,” he says, adding, “seeing me get involved, I don’t think either is possibly that helpful, thinking about it now.” I point out that when he retweets people calling Josie "vile", it’s like he's saying he also thinks she’s vile, which – in the eyes of his fans and followers – might make Josie seem like fair game for abuse. “It’s something I’m still getting to grips with,” he admits. “It’s been a bit weird for me as I still don’t see myself as an influential figure on Twitter or anywhere, really.”


He does have influence, though. Doctors are entitled to their own opinions, of course, but if you’re going to condemn Josie via your huge platform on Twitter you should probably also condemn the people telling you she "should be shot":

Josie, you’ve been accused of many things over the past week and one of them is that you have no friends. As one of Britain’s leading slags myself, I will not let you go down in history as that Billy No-Mates with bad tits. I’ll be your mate. If you came round my house for a couple of Bacardi Breezers, I’m not saying I’d encourage you to have an abortion to go on Big Brother – I might tell you that that's a pretty stupid idea, IMO. But it would be from one slag to another. Sister to sister, so to speak. Not from a baying hate mob of catharsis-hungry strangers who aren't even upset at the decisions you're making with your life, just your reasons for making them.

I still may not agree with your motives, or how you choose to present yourself in the media, and you’re never gonna get a Pride of Britain award, babe. But you don’t deserve all that blind hate and death threats. Your boobs, by the way, are fine. The really ugly tits are the ones that have been bullying you.


Previously – Why Does TV Always Get Prudes to Present Shows About Porn?