Thursday, 4 December 2014

Rolling my eyes: Everyday sexism / racism / homophobia

There are few things that raise my hackles more than isms - you know sexism, racism, ageism, etc. It's been a weird week as there have been cases of quite a few of them in the news. I'm singling out these headlines* because they've really made me shake my head and feel quite sad.

(*these were made up by me - they aren't actual headlines - well I don't think they are)

All Egyptians are white aren't they ? 

Rupert Murdoch, a man known mostly for being old, white and rich remarked on Twitter that he couldn't fathom why there was hostility at the casting of white actors in a film about Moses. No, not Gwyneth and Chris Martin's son, the other one, you know possibly the most famous Egyptian ever.  His disbelief at claims of racism in the white only casting was based on his assertion that all the Egyptians he knows are white. It is entirely coincidental that the movie is being distributed by a company he owns of course. Twitter exploded amidst challenges to his understanding of racism - missing the point that he probably doesn't really tweet himself and doesn't he use the standard disclaimer 'all views my own.' Not that anyone who want to own his views other than him of course. Clearly he is so untouchable that he honestly believes he can just say anything because being so old and rich and white there are no consequences.

Samantha is a goer and she loves it

Radio 4 comedy show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue has been running for years and with mostly the same all male cast. There is a running series of jokes about the fictional 'Samantha' that essentially are about her sexual veracity and this caused one listener to complain to the BBC trust. The trust found that the show had no case to answer. So ISIHAC rules that sexist jokes will stay, but they will endeavour to have more women on having argued with Stella Duffy that one of the existing panel would have to die before there was room for a woman. Yes, this did happen. A few months ago Stella was guest presenting Pick of the Week and we were discussing how few women are on panel shows on Radio 4. Stella challenged the ISIHAC team to respond to the claim that they don't welcome women guest panellists and they were quite aggressive on Twitter arguing that it was tradition and which of the living esteemed original players did she want them to sack to make way for a woman ? Woah there with that passive aggressive defence of the male panellist there Radio 4. 

Woman takes off top and the world doesn't end.

I always loved Madonna. I admired her tenacity, her capacity for hard work and her amazing body. How she came from very little to being rich, powerful and didn't care about what anyone thought of her. I wore armfuls of rubber bracelets and lace rags in my hair during the Susan days and her single handed revolution in making yoga the class of choice for urban women was amazing to witness. She is now 56 and surely everyone who wants to - and most who don't - have seen Madonna naked by now. It is hardly a shock to anyone and frankly if she wants to take her top off and be photographed you can choose not to buy the magazine. It's like those people who announce on Facebook that they are 'taking a break' and then hang around to see who cares enough to ask them to stay. Honestly, if you are going to be offended, just don't look. Sheesh !! 

Teenagers look sullen and wear short skirts.

A communications aide to a Republican senator saw fit to trash 'The First Family' and lost her job as a result. Elizabeth Lauten took offence at photos of President Obama's teenage daughters looking fed up while watching him pardon a turkey for Thanksgiving. It wasn't just their sullen looks and folded arms, but the fact that they were wearing short skirts that was considered disrespectful - it was unclear whether this was to the turkey or the nation as a whole. She also tore into the parents as bad role models for the girls. It's not often we witness ageism of young people, but this was pretty appalling behaviour towards young women who have no choice, but to be photographed and commented on. Making it about their clothes and appearance is just crass. 

 Jack and Sarah

During a plenary session at the recent Mumsnet Blogfest journalist Sarah Vine impressed friends I was sitting with as she seemed pretty reasonable and canny. Prejudiced by the knowledge of who she is married to, I wanted to disagree, but I did concede that she came across well. She's hardly a Liz Jones or Toby Jones Young type who will openly court hostility from the crowd so it was hardly surprising really. It was very disappointing then to read about the spat she got into with Jack Monroe that descended into homophobic rhetoric. You can look up the entire story so I won't go into it here, but I will say that I don't think Jack was kind in her initial comments about the late son of the PM. In response Sarah came across as homophobic when she suggested that being a gay parent was a selfish and irresponsible choice. It's so very medieval and neither of them comes out of this covered in glory.

My head hurts this evening and it's hardly surprising is it ?

I'm hoping that the next week is better.


  1. Pssst. Toby Jones is the utterly cool actor. Think you mean Toby Young, no?

    1. You are - of course - correct. I was too busy rolling my eyes to check :)
      Thank you