THE DAILY Mail did this week as the Daily Mail is want to do, devoting its front page to lecherous panting over the legs of Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon and kicking up an absolute storm in the process.

Ms Sturgeon accused the tabloid equivalent of the dirty old man at the end of the bar of taking Britain back to the 70s after a picture of Scotland’s first minister and the PM was emblazoned with the headline “Never mind Brexit, who won Legs’it!”.

Horribly minimising the gravity of a meeting between the UK’s two most powerful women to so blatantly objectify their bodies is as crass and sexist as it is seemingly calculated.

This kind of insulting and retrograde take on the world is the Mail’s stock in trade and I believe its rabble-rousing team know exactly what they’re doing in provoking their legions of staunch opponents, who are easily – and understandably – stirred into action by such obvious displays of sexism; or racism, or any other ism the publication can exploit for its own gain.

The Daily Mail probably has almost as many anti-readers as they do readers, with their strength of opposition playing a significant part in cementing the publication within the national psyche – the Mail couldn’t thrive without them.

Every storm the tabloid generates in turn generates income – there’s money in every time someone visits their site to see the offending item, in every share of the article and in every argument inspired by it that sends someone racing off to see what all of the fuss is about.

While I recognise with frustration that engaging with this debate at all supports the slick effectiveness of their paper-selling, revenue generating tactics, I applaud those who regularly challenge the Daily Mail’s ugly rhetoric and find myself wishing that our PM had shown half their resistance when confronted with it herself.

As the Mail told critics to "get a life", the PM dismissed their insulting treatment of her and Nicola Sturgeon as a "bit of fun".

But that front page proved no woman – no matter how powerful, no matter how important the story – is immune from being reduced to a sum of their parts in a degrading minimisation of everything they represent.

The objectification of Ms Sturgeon and Mrs May may seem to some like a minor issue in a turbulent political landscape but this form of everyday sexism is as toxic as it is prolific and it should have no place in politics – or anywhere else.

Girls and women across the world fight against this kind of objectification every day but few of them benefit from a significant platform from which to voice their opposition, from which to stand up to the Daily Mail and its ilk.

Our Prime Minister has that platform but instead of using it to condemn the sexism so rife in our tabloids and elsewhere, Mrs May let the Mail’s insult pass without resistance.

In doing so, she helped to reify the kind of discourse that not only undermines her own role in the world but that of so many others.

In shrugging off this insulting and outdated attitude to women, in allowing it to continue unchallenged, Mrs May missed a valuable opportunity to stand up for women and girls everywhere, to tell the world that sexism will not be tolerated under her watch.