Monday, June 16, 2008

Half the population is boring

You wouldn’t think, in this day and age, that a middle-aged male Conservative MP could get away with writing something like this:

Are women boring? Do bears shit in the woods? I was well into my thirties before I realised that the key to success with women is the willingness to nod approvingly (until your head is ready to drop off) while they drone on about their shoes/their relationships/their diet/themselves. As an employer, I have noted women’s inability to properly concentrate on one thing at a time. And the distraction of choice for most women is themselves. But are there exceptions to this rule? Of course. And am I capable of being intrigued, excited and enchanted by women none the less? Yes.

Obviously it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek and intended to be light-hearted, but still it’s pretty patronising.

Actually, it wasn’t a Conservative MP but a Labour one. And it wasn’t a man but a woman. And she didn’t say the above, but the following (yesterday’s Observer; no link available):

Are men boring? Do bears shit in the woods? I was well into my thirties before I realised that the key to success with men is the willingness to nod approvingly (until your head is ready to drop off) while they drone on about their car/their football team/their job/themselves. As an employer, I have noted men’s inability to hold more than one thought in their head at a time. And the thought of choice for most men is themselves. But are there exceptions to this rule? Of course. And am I capable of being intrigued, excited and enchanted by men none the less? Yes.

Good old Diane Abbott.

5 comments:

Matt M said...

I'm actually quite glad she could get away with writing it.

Fact is, lots of people hold views which are, to some degree, either banal or bigoted, and I'd much rather they went around airing them - so that they can be challenged - than holding them back and only saying what's considered acceptable in public.

Let's keep our idiocy out in the open. It's safer that way.

Cassilis said...

Quite.

Clever way to make the point and there have been similar instances invoking race or class where one group is deemed fair game without much thought.

When Obama was caught up in that row about 'poor whites on guns and religion' I was heartened to see that the objects of his derision didn't take it lying down - it was liberal commentators who tried to defend the remark...

Tom Freeman said...

I'm certainly glad she's allowed to write it, I just doubt that there's going to be anything like the sort of comeback the first, fictional quote would have produced.

Obviously women's position in society, while better than it has been, is still on average worse than men's (although Abbott's is some way above most men's). So is it less serious to take a stereotyped pop at the 'dominant' group? In terms of consequences, maybe, but it's no less rotten. And shouldn't equality be about levelling up and all that?

(I ought to add that I actually find most men and most women boring, if I'm forced to spend more than about five minutes with them. But am I boring? Well, I wouldn't know, but the odds aren't good...)

Cassilis said...

The angle about whether or not the target is oppressed in other ways (currently or historically) does come into play I think.

When the Patrick Mercer row broke some people were suggesting that calling someone 'ginger' was the same as calling them a 'nigger' - I couldn't accept that because the latter is linked culturally to serious oppression, violence and murder whereas the former isn't.

Chris said...

Let's keep our idiocy out in the open. It's safer that way.

I believe that's the unofficial motto of Comment is Free.

For my money, the key difference is whether the humourously prejudiced who's getting away with it has a public persona of being a bit of a rent-a-gob not worth taking at face value. With this sort of article Abbott is either getting ready for her post-parliamentary career writing for The Times (where they have that sort of thing all the freakin' time), or announcing her bid for the London mayoralty.

Also, some Conservative MPs can get away with making some sweeping statements. Just the other week Michael Gove made ill-informed comments about people not having read Ulysses, and was chastised, but I didn't see anyone taking umbrage when he also made fun of all those who claim that Magna Carta is the source of fundamental British liberties.