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Fuck Politeness

This is a revolution, not a public relations movement

A friend sent me this link. It seems there is a new law in the pipelines in Britain to enforce some diversity in casting for television shows.

The headline: Now Even Topgear Could Fall Foul of Harman Sexism Law.

First things first. It’s not a ‘sexism’ law from the brief scan of the article, but an Equality Bill.

Second, it’s not Harman’s law (she’s a woman, so it’s a snide little connection there). Yes, she made the announcement, but it looks to me like it’s a Labour government initiative. Why the fuck is SHE copping the blame? Oh right, whingy nancy bitches coming to ruin our fun.

Third – EVEN Topgear???

I LIKE Topgear. I think those three boys are hilarious, and I love their banter, but PLEASE. EVEN Topgear like it’s the bastion of equality, the forefront of gender equity, the frontline of feminism? Fuck off and die.

Said friend also forwarded this, Top Gear producer Andy Wilman’s response. Now let’s be clear, I have had about thirty seconds to process. This post is NOT on the merits of the new bill, it’s on the characterisation of it in the headline of the Daily Mail article, and in Andy Wilman’s response.

He’s ducked the fact that it’s NOT a purely *gender* equity law, and hasn’t discussed the fact it’s three *white blokes* talking cars (and tits, and murder of prostitutes), he’s gone the “Haha well one of us would have to be TRANSSEXUAL, how HILARIOUS amirite” route (I love a bit of trans*phobia with my breakfast), and then gone straight for the throat of the two women quoted in the article.

(Why isn’t she focussed on bigger issues, she doesn’t know me, you give feminists a bad name etc. He’s now collected a few squares in Anti Feminist Bingo (see version two here).)

Then we’re off and racing into the ‘How can it be sexist if half our audience are women?’ leg of the argument. FAIL. Fail on so many levels. First of all logic. Women can be sexist too, dipshit. Women get kudos for participating with a big old shit eating grin in men’s culture. We get points for saying ‘Well *I* don’t have a problem with it, it’s *fine*’.

Women can also be feminists and still watch shows that are sexist. (Sexism wasn’t the initial issue regarding the law change but lack of across the board diversity in representation but for now I don’t WANT to get into the law and its merits, just his responses). If feminists watched nothing that was sexist what the fuck would we watch? Really! Again, I like the show, it makes me laugh and their banter is endearing, I’d love to have beers with them, and I think they’re pretty ok. But fuck off if you’re going to say it’s never ever ever sexist and your proof is that chicks dig it.

Also FAIL on feminism grounds, classic bullshit defence to allegations of sexism – but a woman agreed/but women laugh/but women like it.

Then there’s the snide remarks about Top Gear being about a journey into the male mind, whereas What Not To Wear is a more a *veering* into the journey into the female mind. Well for one thing I’d shoot myself before I watched that, so am I not female? Man in a woman’s body? (Obviously I’m a shithouse woman if I both watch Top Gear and cringe at moments of sexism – I’m thinking for instance of Jeremy struggling not to salivate while openly banging on about being able to see through Billie Pipers shirt).

Anyway, this sort of argument is hardly sustainable: it’s a journey into the male mind: FASCINATING! See movies and television and books are all ABOUT the journey into the male mind, it’s hardly a rarity.

Beppie, feminist extraordinaire, Guest Poster at Hoyden and Doctoral Candidate in young adult literature put it well when explaining a core tenet of literary theory: she said that to even become literate, to enter into the world of fiction, girls must learn to see things from boys/men’s point of view – that’s far and away the main viewpoint through which stories are told.

Heroes and protagonists are overwhelmingly represented as boys/men, and girls need to identify with them in order to enter into literacy, to read, to watch, to engage. Whereas boys/men are not expected to identify with women (chicks dig stoopid shit like What Not To Wear so why bother identifying with their views/thoughts/lives).

So to take a step back, again I say I like the show, it’s funny. But get on with your fool self if you’re going to claim that anyone suggesting it’s a boys club is an out of touch deluded feminazi.

I enjoy the banter, but I know how excluded I am if I have any problem with old men leering and making comments about a young woman’s breasts as part of an interview on her driving, her acting and her life. I’m excluded if I think it’s probably not wise to make jokes about prostitutes murdered by truckdrivers – those were real women. I am excluded by the fact that their god given right to say whatever passes through their brain means that I have two choices: ignore it when I feel they’re demeaning women (and get cookies for being a Top Chick) and laugh along, or to say something when I have the shits (BAD Sheila, No Cookies!).

It isn’t Top Gear per se that puts women in this position its masculinity and the presentation of the male mind as the default. It means we’re forever having to weigh up disavowing discomfort and laughing along to keep the peace, or risking an argument in speaking up and being told by all and sundry that we’re humorless, whinging joy killing feminists.

I’m excluded essentially if I very DARE to have a problem with any of their behaviour, if I experience discomfort while they carry on like teenaged boys at a boy’s boarding school. And the fact that I don’t always speak up or that I sometimes even laugh along cos I can see the funny part seperate from the not funny part does not mean it’s not sexist, does not mean it’s not a boy’s club, does not mean I have no issue, or that cos I liked it it’s fine.

It’s not that it’s not sometimes funny, it’s that you’ve put women in the position of laughing along (good women) or speaking up (boring ugly sexless batshit crazy feminist fun spoiling women).

I wanted to copy and paste sections of his post to here, but the layout won’t allow me to and I’m at work so have no time to go through it all.

This bit jumped out (apologies for any inconsistencies in transcribing)

“I also believe this sort of claptrap is very patronising to women, because it assumes that women can’t enjoy the show’s presenters on merit, but can only appreciate a program if spoken to by one of their own sex”

Ok, again I say I’m not discussing the merits of the law itself, I need to read more if I’m going to do that. But honestly, it doesn’t appear to be doing any such thing. The aim of the law isn’t to ensure a hand holding of every woman in the public who feels ‘victimised’ – it’s to get more diversity in television programming.

So it would be a start if any critique of the law would engage with the factTop Gear is three middle class (straight?) white dudes, rather than justresorting to ‘hysterical female’  bashing.

But besides all that, the law just does *not* do that. Obviously women CAN appreciate programs presented by men. The only programs on which we get women presenters as a matter of routine is if the subject matter is deemed girly and frivoulous. And oh yeah, and female co-presenters like the hot young female newsreaders sitting next to the crusty old male news readers.

Andy, I enjoy your show, I really do. Occassionally though it shits me. It is a boy’s club. I’m not sure why you get so defensive about that. If it’s not a boy’s club where did the jokes about nursing semi’s come from? It’s not that there’s no place for men, their jokes, or their representation, rather this law is about addressing the balance – not just of gender, but in saying predominantly what we have represented is white straight men’s experiences and thoughts and it might be time to look at that, because while straight white men everywhere might think that their minds are the default, the most funny, the most fascinating, the edgiest, hippest, most rational and wonderful, that perhaps that sense of assurance could do with a bit of a challenge.

(Also note ‘claptrap’ – silly damned women, and ‘on merit’ a nice swipe at affirmative action. Sorry but things don’t change til you make them. Yes I’d be behind affirmative action, because women, persons of colour, queer folk, trans* folk, all persons not middle class straight white men have been passed and continue to be passed over without a second glance at their merits – or say a recognition of the fact that the Old Boy’s Club denied them entry to tertiary education/the right clubs –  cos of the way the world works)

The law isn’t targeted at Top Gear:

The Equality Bill, which was unveiled on Monday, encourages employers to take ‘positive action’ to widen diversity in the public-sector workforce.

Yes, someone has said that Top Gear should employ more women, and it’s a boy’s club. Never fear. You could still employ women and have it be a boy’s club. Look at most programs with male and female presenters and most of the women’s lines are simpering sucking up to men, their points of view, their sense of humour and most of all their divine right to ALL HOT CHICKS ALL THE TIME.

I don’t know much about the law and won’t go into its merits, but I do know that Andy Wilman’s self righteous diatribe doesn’t really present things as they are and seems to rely on a sneaky little bit of sleight of hand to rubbish the law and anyone who supports it.

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