New TUC general secretary designate Frances O'Grady has at least two "unique selling points" - as every article reminds us, she is both female and a single parent.
Accordingly, the right is not sure whether to portray her as a cliched feminista or little lady drowning in a sea of testosterone.
The Telegraph, which has not felt the need to update its view on unions in the last 40 years, hilariously insists that they essentially run the country.
Describing the style of some male union leaders as "dog-on-a-rope," the paper stops just short of dusting off its stock of 1970s industrial relations stereotypes, but one can hear "holding the country to ransom" on the tip of its tongue.
It wonders whether O'Grady can deal with all these big shouty men, though it notes that, as she's actually been deputy general secretary for some time, she must have found some way not to swoon when confronted with what it is pleased to call "the hairy arses."
Leaving aside the admittedly fascinating question of whether or not modern waxing techniques have reached the - ahem - inner circle of male trade unionism, it is frustrating that the right can get away with serving up such ancient canards to its readers.
The movement is better than that, and far more diverse - it always has been.
Half of the country's union members are female, and from grass roots to NEC level unions draw on a wealth of talent and commitment from both sexes.
Earlier this year I spoke at a conference for union learning reps, who act as advocates for their members - some of whom are migrant workers - in all areas of their lives.
But as one man said, "That will never get into the papers - not unless we do something wrong."
While we can partly blame the right-wing media for the way we're portrayed, we have to look inwards too.
Any woman involved in the movement will tell you that aggressively macho tactics can still be found in some areas, and are not always reserved for employers.
Dinosaurs still roam the landscape - and even if they're on the verge of extinction, they can still do a lot of damage, especially when it suits our opponents to present them as if they are, and always have been, the whole story.
We need to both know and celebrate the movement's rich and extraordinary history.
It contains enough fascinating stories to fill the history strands on all our TV channels several times over, but they don't show them and often we don't know them ourselves.
In particular, history has "buried" the truth about women's vital part in the story - and, deprived of knowledge of this past, women activists each have to fight their own individual battle to find role models and inspiration when they have enough to do contending with the present.
This was brought home to me recently when I had an email from a Labour Party activist who had only just discovered, through her own reading, that women had been there from the start, striking and fighting for their rights.
She had assumed it had been a male movement - and how would she have known any different, when the media still portrays an unreconstructed boys' club?
In fact men and women have fought side by side against exploitation and for political reform at numerous points in history.
But there have also been periods of misunderstanding and hostility between women and the labour movement. The events of the 19th century, in particular, continue to cast a long shadow.
As new capitalist factory owners gained social power with their wealth, for the first time they could make the rules rather than simply follow them.
They decided that, as a class, they stood for a belief in the nobility of labour, against the aristocratic view that no gentleman worked for a living.
But they rather fancied the concept of the gentlewoman - or at least the gentry's concept of the lady of leisure - and made it their own.
No respectable woman should work, they proclaimed, when both biology and theology decreed her place to be in the home.
The great irony was that these were the very men who had made their fortunes from women's labour, which was the absolute backbone of industrialisation.
Women always had and always would work, but for the next hundred or so years it would suit polite society to pretend otherwise.
Against this background, working men genuinely struggled with ideas about a woman's place.
They knew they couldn't survive without their wives' and daughters' wages, but at the same time the myth of the "breadwinners' wage" insisted a real man could provide for everyone.
Some male unions did recruit women, and Chartists were not the only political movement to give prominence to women in their ranks.
But when push came to economic shove, because the movement hadn't adopted a positive overall stance on women, it was easy for male workers to see women as a threat.
The records of one union meeting show that the men present clearly understood that it was the "wickedness" of their employer in paying women less that was making "poor women the enemy of poor men," however they still decided the only solution was to petition their employer against hiring them.
In Kidderminster in 1875, a carpet company hired women at a lower wage rate in order to force male weavers into accepting a pay cut.
Threatening letters circulated accusing the women of stealing men's jobs and warned that they "might very likely get their brains knocked out."
The same year Henry Broadhurst of the TUC declared that the Congress should try to get women back to "their proper sphere at home."
With friends like Broadhurst, working women didn't need enemies - and, in any case, had their employers for that.
One of Victorian Britain's success stories was Bryant & May matches, which employed thousands of women and girls.
It banned unions and consistently defied the law. Not only did it illegally fine workers for minor offences, it violated health and safety laws, with ghastly results.
Because the white phosphorus Bryant & May preferred to use was so deadly, workers were supposed to have a dining area away from the workrooms.
Because it didn't, deadly particles in the air settled on the food the women brought in from home, giving the poison an easy route into the mouth.
Full-blown phosphorus poisoning or "phossy jaw" led to slow decay of facial bones and an agonising death.
We are often told by the right that if unions did not interfere between employer and employee, better pay and all things wonderful would result - Bryant & May shows the grim truth.
But the matchwomen were not simply victims. Like many working-class women they had to be tough to survive, but also had strong codes of solidarity and friendship with their workmates.
Disapproved of by the "respectable" trade union movement, they went ahead and took strike action, forcing their employers to accede to their terms and forming the largest female union in the country in 1888.
Nor were they by any means the first women to fight back - exactly 100 years before this records show that women spinners in Leicestershire had their own militant union. Elsewhere, we can read of women ducking strikebreakers under water pumps.
In fact, throughout history women have fought their exploitation with courage, in and out of the workplace.
From the young married woman who fought back against the soldiers attacking her at Peterloo "her face all bloody, her hair streaming about her," to the chainmakers of Cradley Heath who took short breaks from grinding physical labour to give birth, and eventually took on their employers and won, women's strength is everywhere.
But you have to seek it out, and few have the luxury of hours to spend in archives.
This concealment has done the left no good. In 1990, more than a century after the matchmakers kick-started "new unionism," the start of modern unionism, the TUC had to relaunch it as a recruitment campaign aimed at women, part-time and marginalised workers.
It took Thatcher's destruction of the country's manufacturing base and the resulting loss of seven million union members to bring that about.
So why is women's part in our proud industrial and political heritage not written and celebrated everywhere?
O'Grady points us in the right direction in her comments about the current government's economic measures, which, as was widely predicted, are disproportionately affecting women and children.
"You'd be forgiven for thinking that this was part of a back-to-the-kitchen-sink campaign," she recently told the Guardian.
"When you look at ... women being hit hardest by job losses, service cuts, threats to take away employment rights, pay depression, rising bills and lack of childcare ... You could be forgiven for thinking that there is a plan here."
It is precisely because women have been fighting on so many fronts for so long that they have not always had time to record and celebrate their victories.
We need to work on uncovering and publicising our past as part of building a better future. Faced with the truth, the Establishment would not be able to present the movement as a "boys' club" and a historical anachronism.
O'Grady will be speaking next year at the festival celebrating the 125th anniversary of the matchwomen's strike, which I hope will be a place to start a lively re-engagement with this history.
She told me that she has "always been inspired by those teenage rebels, the matchwomen," and I hope that, as she takes on a unique combination of dream job and poisoned chalice, the spirit of women like these will stay with her.
Louise Raw is the author of "Striking a Light: the Bryant & May Matchwomen" (Continuum Press), and director of the forthcoming Matchwomen's Festival, Saturday July 6 2013 (www.matchwomensfestival.com, www.facebook.com/Matchwomen).
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