miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
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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Date: 2011-04-28 11:36 am (UTC)
ext_550458: (Default)
From: [identity profile] strange-complex.livejournal.com
Very, very well said.

Date: 2011-04-28 11:38 am (UTC)
el_staplador: (Default)
From: [personal profile] el_staplador
I hated that advertisement. And I am not feeling any kinder to Cameron than I was before.

Date: 2011-04-28 12:15 pm (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
Yes. From someone in a position of power to someone not, from a man to a woman, that tone and that phrase was appalling.

The difference between the reactions of Osborne and of Nick are very telling. Osborne thought it was hilarious. Nick has a brief twitch of the mouth and then goes stony-faced. I hope he told Cameron he was being a dickhead afterward though.


Date: 2011-04-28 01:32 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I agree that Cameron came across as a bit of a dick and Nick had the right reaction - yet I can't help thinking that Angela herself was over-egging the pudding.

Having been a cllr on a LD authority I can say that although Tories might do these things automatically Labour do it just as much but slyly and with malicious intent even though they themselves would attack anyone doing it to their own `tribe`.

Re: hi

Date: 2011-04-28 03:32 pm (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
From: [personal profile] rmc28
It wasn't just Angela Eagle - Ed Balls seemed to be the loudest but the whole Labour front bench were joining in the noise.

The point that is getting lost as well is that Angela Eagle was pointing out a mistake by Cameron - this former MP he was quoting did not lose his seat to the Conservatives (he did not stand again). It's a minor error of detail and not that relevant to the letter, but patronising someone who is pointing out an error of fact is even worse.

I used to be impressed by Cameron's general courteousness at PMQs (Miliband excepted) but it's been slipping a lot recently.

Date: 2011-04-28 01:47 pm (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
Excellent post.

Date: 2011-04-28 01:57 pm (UTC)
mcgillianaire: (Portcullis Logo)
From: [personal profile] mcgillianaire
Hear, hear. For all his faults, I find it hard to see Clegg making "jokes" of the same nature and manner, even though he also had a fairly privileged upbringing. The fact is that in spite of one's upbringing, it is possible to remain/develop a down-to-earth and personable personality. Indeed, it's not essential to be a 'man of the people' necessarily, though as you point out, Cameron tries so hard to act like what he thinks is an ordinary person, that he ends up sounding boorish and arrogant. This is not the first time Cameron has made such condescending comments nor spoken in such a dismissive manner during PMQs. In fact it seems as though the more confident he becomes at the dispatch box, the more aggressive a tone he adopts. Yesterday was not the first time I felt ashamed to be in the same coalition as him but it was certainly one of the worst instances so far.

Date: 2011-04-28 03:28 pm (UTC)
sashajwolf: photo of Blake with text: "reality is a dangerous concept" (Default)
From: [personal profile] sashajwolf

Date: 2011-04-28 05:53 pm (UTC)
rhythmaning: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rhythmaning
Completely agree.

There was another thing that really wound me up: having made a really bad, inconsiderate joke, he repeated it. And repeated it. And repeated it. The topic moved on. And then he repeated again. Six or seven times in all, maybe more.

And he STILL didn't get it. It shows such appalling self-awareness - maybe a symptom of privilege - that it is startling.

Date: 2011-04-30 03:57 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
That's a perfect comeback to passive-aggressive crap. But don't assume it's pure tone-deafness. Cameron is now getting his talking points from Murdoch people, and they provoke with a purpose.

Here on this side of the pond, misogyny is on the rise too. Congress and nearly every state have introduced some kind of bill to limit women's health care. Senator Jon Kyl threw out a completely wild statement--that 90% of what Planned Parenthood family medical centers do is abortions. The actual number is 3%. He did not apologize, but he sent out an underling to report that what Kyl said "was not intended to be a factual statement." The political pundits had a field day with that, but he got discouragingly little flak for it otherwise.


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