We're all quick to criticise the Daily Mail, or the Daily Express, or The Sun, for writing derogatory articles about women, but I've been surprised at the lack of comment about this story by The Independent.*
To give a quick summary, Samantha Cameron has hired a taxpayer funded Special Adviser. The newly recruited SpAd is former CCHQ staffer Rosie Lyburn, who has followed a pretty standard path from MPs office, to party HQ, to Government special adviser. Nothing wrong with that so far, sounds pretty normal, especially to someone who trod a similar, though not identical, path.
Except that The Independent have chosen to label her as a 'fashion adviser'. I can only assume that's because Rosie Lyburn a) is a woman, b) has been hired by a woman and c) used to be a model.
Putting aside the fact that you'd never hear a man described like that if they'd been given the same role, it's demeaning to the work of anyone operating at that high level to suggest the most difficult choice they'll have to make on a daily basis is whether Mrs Cameron should wear her hair up or down.
I have no doubt that occasionally Rosie Lyburn will be asked for fashion advice. You know how I know that? Because when you're that closely attached to someone high profile, everyone is asked, regardless of the gender of them or their boss. James McGrory, Nick Clegg's former spokesman and SpAd, was known amongst journalists for Malcolm Tucker-esque rants. He also carried around foundation in his bag and would apply it to Nick's face prior to TV interviews.
The adviser most consulted about Nick's wardrobe also spent her spare time writing all of his major speeches. At the same conference where I was accidentally taking Nick dogging, I also ironed one of his shirts, which will come as a shock to my mother who isn't convinced I know which side of an iron to hold.
Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, partner at high profile law firm Dechert, international lawyer, champion of the Inspiring Women campaign also happens to be married to Nick Clegg. I've seen for myself that advising a 'political wife' goes far beyond picking their outfit and reminding them to smile.
I know that when she's done giving fashion advice, Rosie Lyburn will then get on with handling PR for Mrs Cameron, or engaging with stakeholders to plan her own projects, or ensuring that her views are represented when planning future events. Or the million and one other things that an adviser working for the wife of the Prime Minister will have to do on a daily basis.
There is a perfectly valid debate to be had about whether Mrs Cameron needs an adviser, or whether it is a good use of taxpayer money. But let's have that debate on its merits, not based on a patronising, sexist assumption about what the role of one woman is when they're advising another.
* - I should be clear that other papers have been just as patronising about the job, using similar titles. I won't link to them all here, because I don't want to direct traffic at them. It was simply The Independent one that I saw first, and that particularly stuck out.