She Isn’t “Hancock’s Aide”, She’s Called Gina Coladangelo

Whilst we all sit in a mixture of pure entertainment and complete shock at the scandalous revelation released by the press on Friday about Matt Hancock’s affair with Gina Coladangelo, I can’t help but feel like we’re all excusing and/or ignoring the horrendous misogyny that underpins the headlines.

Aide: a person who acts as an assistant.

In every headline that I’ve seen, Gina is referred to as ‘Hancock’s aide’. I have seen very few courteous enough to mention that she’s called Gina Coladangelo. Some don’t even refer to her name in the subtitle. By referring to Gina as ‘Hancock’s aide’, the headlines are referring to this female millionaire as belonging to Hancock, her name being irrelevant. Why are we accepting this?

About Gina Coladangelo

In September 2020, Gina was given a non-executive director role at the Department of Health and Social Care, which involves scrutinising the department’s activities over 15 to 20 days of work per year. Yes, it seems like this role was given to her due to her long-term relationship with Hancock (potentially being romantic since at least 2019, some speculating that this has been ongoing since they were both studying at university). But it is her role. She is also Marketing and Communications Director at Oliver Bonas. And yes, her husband is the Founder of the business, but again it is her role.

Gina went to the University of Oxford and has 20 years experience working in communications – focussing on healthcare, retail and the environment. In the past she was a Trustee of Willow, the national charity providing special days to seriously ill young adults, and was formerly an executive for the PR and lobbying firm Luther Pendragon.

Under similar standards, we should refrain from calling Boris Johnson by his name, given that our Prime Minister evidently used his Father’s, Stanley Johnson (who served as Conservative MEP for Wight & Hampshire East from 1979 to 1984), political connections to kickstart his career. The papers should be referring to him as the son of Stanley Johnson, surely?

Women are not Anonymous

I think it’s important to note that I hardly know a thing about Ms Coladangelo, but what I do know is that she is being identified not through her name, but through her connection with Hancock. This is an evident display of a perceived lack of importance of Gina’s identity as an individual, being deemed only important through the fact she has worked with Hancock.

Curley’s Wife from Of Mice and Men, written by John Steinbeck. Her real name was never revealed throughout the entire novel.
Credit: Mary Evans Picture Library, 1992.

If you’ve ever read Of Mice and Men, you’ll know that Curley’s Wife was never called her real name by characters or by Steinbeck himself, she remained Curley’s Wife throughout the entire story. This was a literary technique to imply a lack of importance, respect and a general implication of the role of women being one of insignificance. This was 1920s America. And 100 years later, here we are.

Monica Lewinsky, an American activist, television personality and fashion designer who Bill Clinton admitted to having an affair with whilst she was an Intern at the White House.

This anonymity displayed for Gina Coladangelo applied to the headlines when Bill Clinton’s scandalous affair became public, where Monica Lewinsky was described in all the papers as a ‘White House Intern’ with little to no mention of her name.

She is called Gina Coladangelo, and no matter what your opinion is on the morality or professionalism of her actions with Hancock, she deserves the respect of being called this.

Lastly, a huge thank you to the whistleblower from within the Department of Health and Social Care for releasing the footage which finally brought an end to Hancock’s position in the Cabinet. It’s a shame that our democracy is so screwed that a 128,000 person death toll didn’t end him.

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Grace

What an interesting read! I never thought about it that way!