miss_s_b: (Default)
I'm fairly sure that David Cameron was only intending to be boorish, arrogant and dismissive to Angela Eagle yesterday, rather than sexist, and when he did his (rather poor and incomplete) Michael Winner impression I'm sure he thought he was being hilarious. He was certainly visibly nonplussed at the vehemence of the negative reaction he got. He may not even have realised the sexism inherent in the original commercial; this is a function of his vast privilege, being white, male, very rich, able-bodied, hetereosexual, etc. etc. etc. In just about every group where there are privileged and marginalised, Cameron falls on the former side. This makes it really hard for him to notice when he is being a total cock, as he was yesterday.

NewsThump, sharp as ever, have done a particularly good piece on this:
“David is trying to make himself seem more like one of the ‘people’, and that’s how the people speak, right? With a bit of casual racism and condescension to women?”

“He’s simply following in the footsteps of some of the greatest comedy minds our country has ever produced, like Michael Winner.”
Cameron probably thought he was being just like an ordinary person. The problem with that is, given his vast priveledge, he has no frame of reference with which to try to be like an ordinary person, other than what he has seen on the telly. And he thought that the Michael Winner insurance commercials were funny because he comes from the same hyper-rich white male social group as Winner; it simply hadn't occurred to him to think outside that group.

The trick to not being sexist (or racist or ablist, or whatever) is not to learn a list of set phrases that you're not allowed to say any more - for instance I am sure Cameron would not have told Angela Eagle not to worry her pretty little head about things because that is fairly well-known as a hair-trigger phrase now - but to actually think about what you are saying. Are you putting down someone who is already lower down the pecking order than you with what you are saying? If so, that's unnecessary, hurtful, and makes you look like a bit of a cock. The test is not do I think this is hurtful? but if I were the butt of this joke, and I have already spent my entire life being the butt of similar jokes, and I have much less power than the person making the joke, would I find it hurtful? If that sounds to you like I am over-egging the pudding a bit, examine your discomfort. Is it just because you don't want to think that you fall into the Offenders group rather than the Offended? Because I know for a damn straight fact I have been in both in my time...

If you offend somebody, what you do is apologise, say you didn't mean to offend them, and then use it as an opportunity to learn why what you have said is hurtful and offensive... It may turn out that the person has no reasonable reason to be offended, and I am fully behind the right to cause offence if it is necessary. But more likely, you will have said something thoughtlessly offensive without even realising it, and if you learn from it then you become a better person through more knowledge.

Of course, Cameron has compounded his error by refusing to apologise and using the I was only joking defence. As I have said before,
If you thoughtlessly (or even purposefully) say something sexist or racist or whateverist, and someone calls you out on it, and your instinctive response is to say "but I was only joking!", think what you are saying by saying that. You are saying "Not only do I reserve the right to be inconsiderate of your feelings, but when I hurt you, I will compound that by making out that you should expect to be an object of fun". How does that make things better? Why is it funny to pick on people who are weaker than you and then laugh about it? That's not humour, that's bullying.
Now, given Cameron's upbringing and education, and the fact that he has risen to the top after receiving them, it's not surprising that he's a thoughtless sexist bully.

Today is one of those days when I am really ashamed to be in the same coalition as him.



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miss_s_b: (Politics: FU)
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My initial positive-feelings-tempered-with-caution towards the coalition, cemented when I voted for it at special conference, have been being slowly eroded over recent weeks.

This isn't because of any particular policy, or even a cumulative dripdrip of many policies. I, like David, recognise and accept that part of coalition is that you have to accept some stuff you don't like in exchange for the stuff you do, and so long as nobody's red lines are being crossed then working together is better than working apart. There are some policies which this government has brought to fruition which I like, some which I detest, and some which I am ambivalent about. I don't doubt that this would still be the case were my party in sole power - although perhaps the balance would be different - because this is always the case with any government of any colour.

No, what is upsetting me, to the point where this morning I shouted FOR FUCK'S SAKE at Our Glorious Leader when he was being interviewed on the radio this morning, is that we were promised a new politics. We were promised that consensus and compromise and behaving like grown ups was going to happen. We were promised that politicians would start to answer straight questions with straight answers, and stop avoiding the difficult topics. Perhaps naively, I took the coalition agreement and its transparent signs of negotiation and compromise as a positive sign that this was actually going to happen, unlike all the previous occasions when it has been promised. And for a few days, it looked like it was going to. But not any more. This morning on the Today programme, Nick singularly failed to give a straight answer to any of Humpty's questions. Yesterday at PMQs, Cameron indulged in shouted ad hominems and also failed to answer any questions properly. Instead of behaving like grown ups, our MPs are screaming at each other in the chamber MORE, and my party is complicit, in that it feels like we've decided which one of the big boys we are going to be the little crazy kid with the ideas to, and now we've joined their gang we're going to make the most of our opportunity to pick on the other gang instead of doing anything constructive.

This is what people hate about politics. The dissembling, the evasion, the defensiveness, the attacks on the opposition in lieu of accepting responsibility for your own decisions. They hate it.

In an attempt to be helpful, then, here are a few sample questions and answers which would not make me lose respect for my leader hand over fist, the way his performance this morning did:

Sample Question from Humpty: Why have you implemented X policy when you said before the election that X policy would be a disaster?
Bad Answer: Well, you know, I really want to talk about Y policy, Z statistics, and in fact anything other than X policy, because you're right, I hate X policy, and everybody knows it, but I don't want to admit that on the radio.
Good Answer: Before the election we were campaigning on the basis of the knowledge we had at the time. We know now that A, B, and C are much worse than we thought they were. This means that policy X, although we don't like it, is the only route we can take at the moment.
Better Answer: X policy is something that I have had to compromise on. This is the nature of coalition. The Tories have compromised on Q policy, and we have compromised on X policy. This is what happens when you negotiate with people, Humpty, you pillock.

Sample Question from Harperson: Will the right honourable gentleman admit that he has done some bad mean things that I don't like?
Bad answer: I haven't done as many bad things that you don't like as your government did bad things that I didn't like in the last thirteen years! ((For pity's sake, even my seven year old knows that I only did it once and Scott did it three times! is an excuse that won't wash with ANYONE)).
Good answer: I have done some bad mean things, it's true. But I was forced to do those bad mean things in order to avoid the horrific consequences of not doing them. When given a choice between two evils, I would rather choose the lesser than the greater, or dither and do nothing in the hope that it will all go away.

Question: Why are you trying to pretend that your budget doesn't hurt the poorest most when it manifestly does?
Bad Answer: WAAAAAAAAAAH THAT'S NOT TRUE AND ANYWAY IT'S ALL LABOUR'S FAULT!
Good answer:... Actually, there isn't a good answer for that; or rather if there is, I can't think of one. Why is our budget hitting the poorest hardest, Nick? I'd love to know. I mean, I suspect it's because we're in coalition with the Tories, and they have form for hammering the disadvantaged and the disabled, but I genuinely believed that we were going to try and stop them doing that... Please do something to restore my faith soon. Because right now, it's wavering.

ETA: Thank Cthulhu for Vince, who is being awesome on Question Time. Hope Nick is watching and taking notes on how to answer questions.



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