Thursday, 11 July 2013

Sexism parading as feminism on the BBC's 'This Week' show.

I was watching 'This Week' - late-night politics discussion hosted by Andrew Neill.

The special guest was Myleene Klass. Others in the discussion were Ken Livingstone, Michael Portillo and Andrew Neill.

The topic was 'casual sexism', e.g. Cameron's 'calm down dear' and Hague's 'stupid woman' remarks during PMQ sessions, John Inverdale's 'she's not a looker' (re tennis player Marion Bartoli).

Now, ostensibly, Myleene Klass had come onto the programme to argue that casual sexism was rife and unacceptable.

But, interestingly, she was the one who came across as least feminist in her views, compared to all the men present, particularly Livingstone.

One clue to this was the fact that she proclaimed herself a 'feminist' very emphatically - too emphatically, especially when she should have understood that everyone already assumes that, given her self-appointed role in the discussion.

But there were much bigger give-aways.

For example, Livingstone made the obvious argument about popular media, e.g. The Sun, barraging us with images of women in bikinis.

That's obviously correct: if women's 'bits' are always emphasised, and their opinions always invisible, then that obviously makes them lesser people than men.

Klass was emphatic in her disagreement with Livingstone, e.g. 'Oh, you can't blame it all on the media.'

Klass' defence of page 3 was a clear illustration of Upton Sinclair's principle, 'difficult for someone to understand something when their salary depends on their not understanding': Klass has profited greatly from the bikini shot, so that's why she struggles to see it as demeaning to women.

Klass also took great issue with Livingstone's argument for positive discrimination to boost women numbers, e.g. in parliament. Klass' emphatic riposte was that selection of women should depend on their ability to do the job.

This is a red-herring, though. There are plenty of women (and men) capable of doing a good job (politics, finance, law, education, science). The issue really is about pushing/enticing them into those positions rather than finding enough 'capable' women.

To trump it all, the biggest enemy of women that Klass identified was women themselves: how bitchy they are about each other, how they bring each other down.

That too is bollocks though. Compared to women, if anything, men excel when it comes to bitchy comments out each other, jealousy, vindictiveness, etc.

Moreover, if we accept Klass' argument, then, actually, it follows that there is no problem to be addressed by society: according to Klass women need to go away and sort themselves and their attitudes to each other out.

Klass is clearly a pseudo-feminist at best, or sexist at worst (much like many hacks are pseudo-journalists or propagandists).