male privilege

Kitty

I’ve just seen something in our local paper, & I’m rather pissed about it, so excuse any bad language. There is a picture of Nicola Sturgeon & Teresa May sitting in chairs (the one that prompted the ‘Legs It’ article in the Daily Fail- where else?!) in the letters section, & there is a question underneath it which says, “what do you think? Is it humorous or demeaning to comment on top politicians’ legs? To join in the debate [email the local paper]”. WTF?! Are they for real? I can’t believe they’re turning this into a debate! I think it’s appalling, & I’m in the camp of thinking it’s demeaning, & not at all funny! I bet that if it had been Alex Salmond & one of the male MPs who was in the running for PM (had he gotten the job) having that discussion, the Mail wouldn’t have run that article. To add insult to injury, a guy who is a regular contributor to the letters section opined that “too much fuss is being made about the Legs It article”. I quote (apologies- I tried to go to the paper’s site to find a link to the letter, but searched in vain, so I’ve had to write it out in longhand, my blood simmering as I’m doing so): “A light-hearted piece by Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine pinpointing the legs & knees of PM Teresa May & Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon when they met to discuss the vexed questions of Brexit & a Scottish second referendum has brought an outburst of abuse from some female MPs who consider the item deliberately demeaning & moronic sexism. A picture of both women showed an expanse of leg & a (sic) 4 curvaceous knees, prompting Sarah Vine to ask, “Who won legs-it”. I can’t see why the anger, both Teresa May & Nicola Sturgeon have fine legs & excellent knees. So why not dress to show them to the wider public? Just because both women are well turned out & reveal visible legs does not for a minute stop them from arguing their cases in favour of Brexit & a second Scottish referendum, they are both tough politicians [how nice of you to say so!]. But that doesn’t have to stop them from being feminine [because toughness isn’t feminine at all, right?!]. Those who decry the piece by Sarah Vine want to lighten up [a phrase I loathe- I’ve been told to do it several times by my mother when I’ve openly disapproved of sexist behaviour either on TV or by people in ‘real life’, & it only served to make me angrier] & realise that not all top female politicians, like Angela Merkel, have to dress in sombre fashion to prove they are doing their job in what is mostly a man’s world, like politics.” Alright then. So women are meant to put up with being objectified on the grounds that it’s a bit of banter (the ‘humourless feminist’ meme being trotted out again, I see- I’ve heard that one before!), shut up & take it as a compliment when people comment on their legs or whatever, & anyone who dares to stick up for them has also had a sense of humour failure. OK. Whatever, dude. This man is SERIOUSLY missing the point- women in the public eye should be able to dress how they want to without being picked apart for it (note that he couldn’t resist having a pop at Angela Merkel for the way she dresses, as if it’s any business of his!)! The fact that Ms Sturgeon & Ms May allegedly have good legs & look feminine (whatever the fuck that means) is irrelevant, & I couldn’t give a shit whether they do or not! It’s their policies & what they met to talk about that matters, not their clothes or their bodies! Even if they DO have good legs, that doesn’t give dirty old gits like this letter-writer the right to comment & ogle! I’ve never read any articles about male politicians’ bodies or clothes! Alas, it doesn’t surprise me that this man holds these views, as he has form when it comes to sexism. In the past, he’s written various misogynistic, chauvinistic & anti-feminist letters to the paper. One was after the Labour Party Conference a few years ago, when he launched into a tirade against Harriet Harman over the speech she made there. I can’t remember what exactly he said, but the words ‘feminist firebrand’ featured in the heading of said letter, so presumably he criticised her for talking about domestic abuse. When a woman wrote to the paper rebutting what he’d said & pointing out that domestic abuse is a more serious problem than he might think & that there are women who live in fear of the men in their lives, he responded by saying that it’s not just women who are victims of domestic abuse. How predictable that he’s someone who holds the view that there is no gender imbalance when it comes to domestic abuse. Another instance was when he wrote that it was all very well the powers that be cracking down on rape, they should be cracking down on punishing women who lie about it (because OF COURSE LOADS of women do that, don’t they?!). I was tempted to write a letter calling him out on this, but decided against it. He’s also criticised the fact that women are allowed to box, has criticised women who behave in what he perceives as an ‘unladylike’ fashion & has very ‘traditional’ ideas about gender roles. I suspect that these views may stem from the fact that he’s from a different generation, but that’s no excuse.

Laura

I’m currently arguing with a man who said Madonna ought to have retired by now (in a thread about her recent speech about misogyny). Not only doesn’t he get the irony of his comment in light of the video, but he’s justifying it by reference to Paul McCartney having retired already. A fact which is not only untrue, but deeply irrelevant as Paul McCartney is almost two decades her senior and actually of retiral age. But it’s ok because apparently Madonna is inappropriate for making a joke about feeling more comfortable with something hard between her legs, while McCartney would never do anything like that… I’m not even sure I’m that big a fan of madonna’s more recent work but I can’t seem to back away from this twit. How does he not see his comments are exactly what her speech was about?