Warning: This Post Contains Sexism 46


The ridiculous panic that the media is trying to induce over flu, reminded me of this passage from Murder in Samarkand, p 217:

“We became the chief contact point for the EBRD permanent staff in London. of whom some scores of Brits were coming out for the Conference. This was also the height of the panic over the SARS epidemic.

…One female member of EBRD staff emailed me from London:

“Should I wear a face mask in the conference hall?”

“I don’t know,” I typed back, “How ugly are you?”. “

On Saturday I was invited to address Stop The War’s annual conference. This has shrunk down to what I might call a hard left core, with the other groups that used to be a prominent part of the coalition almost completely evaporated. The most obvious sign of this was the near complete absence of Muslims. But the christians, pacifists, environmentalists and others had mostly gone too. It is probably true that the Hard Left are the ones I am least at home with.

My speech centred on the recent fake bomb scare in the North West, and the relief it had temporarily provided the government from terrible headlines over the death of Ian Tomlinson and over Jacqui Smith’s expense claims. I threw in the following line because a speech needs jokes, and because I like to tease the left sometimes:

“You know, I make no claim to being politically correct. So I can say that, if I were married to Jacqui Smith, I would probably use a lot of porn too.”

Most of the hall laughed, but the feminists got most upset and started to interject. Points of order followed. When I had finished, a speaker from the floor said that my speech was such an important denunciation of the attack on civil liberties in the UK, that it should be copied to DVD and given out on tube stations. Then someone stood up and demanded that I withdraw my comments on Jacqui Smith.

I stayed and listened to an interesting talk on Iraq by Sami Ramidani, but when I left I was harangued on the stairs by a young woman who made Jacqui Smith look positively alluring. She told me I was a sexist disgrace. She seemed very proud of being the Chair of Glasgow Stop the War. I expect it too has a rapidly declining membership.

Anyway, the Stop the War Coalition has now put up videos of its conference keynote speakers on its website, but not including me. I shall take it I am not wanted in future.

Issues of gender equality arose at the Dundee University Court meeting on Monday. The University is in discussion to open a satellite campus in a Gulf state. It is potentially both interesting and a major source of revenue. However it seems that lectures would have to be segregated. There were two views on University Court. Some felt that we should respect local culture, and that the important thing was that women had education of equal quality. Others felt that segregation was so far removed from our values as a university that it was not something with which we should associate.

I feel strongly we shouldn’t do it. The issues are interesting, and cut across feminism. I expect that a few of the feminists who harangued at me at Stop the War would be quite happy with women being kept away from men. My thinking is not particularly feminist. I think mingling with all types of people is much more important to the university experience than anything a dull old lecturer will tell you. And I also pointed out to Court that, if a woman insisted on her right to attend a “Male” lecture, we could be in the position of enforcing segregation.

I have never been a fan of cultural relativism, so the argument of respecting local values cuts little ice with me. But I realise other will have a different view.

UPDATE

A view on the Stop The War controversy by someone else who was there comes on the Daily Maybe

http://http://jimjay.blogspot.com/2009/04/saturdays-stop-war-coaltiion-conference.html

I have no idea why they treat HOPI so badly. Do they get Iranian money?

On the “sexism” issue more generally, I added this comment in the debate below – I thought it might stir people’s brain cells a bit more:

Actually, I am against all forms of disadvantage on grounds of race, gender etc.

Where I differ is that I view sexuality (as opposed to gender) as simply another attribute and as open to use and to humour as any other.

As a teen I shovelled coal on a coalyard at weekends. In the course of the day men might easily lift and carry fifty tons of coal on their back, in hundredweight lots. I do not view that as any less exploitation of their bodies than the work a prostitute does. And I don’t view clerical drudgery as essentially different.


46 thoughts on “Warning: This Post Contains Sexism

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  • JimmyGiro

    Two tits good, two balls bad.

    I wonder when George Orwell will be put on a government sponsored ‘banned’ list for schools, on the basis of insighting sedition?

  • anticant

    Well, did you withdraw your comments on Jacqui Smith? I hope not.

    I remember a meeting in the early 1980s addressed by Professor Bernard Williams concerning his committee’s recently published report on pornography. A noisy group of feminists heckled him continually and shouted everybody else down. Then they stalked out, announcing that they were going to a meeting in another part of the building to listen to a famous American feminist anti-pornographer. Some of us said that sounded interesting, and we would go along with them. “Oh no you can’t”, they said, “you’re men, and it’s a women-only meeting!”

  • anticant

    What’s “hard” about the Hard Left? Their brains are as mushy as marshmallows.

  • Joe99

    “You know, I make no claim to being politically correct. So I can say that, if I were married to Jacqui Smith, I would probably use a lot of porn too.”

    And you wonder why you were sacked. Grow up Craig.

  • Polo

    George Orwell’s “1984” was banned in the Irish State up to the 1967 reform of the censorship laws.

  • eddie

    Hold the front page. Hard left has no sense of humour, shock horror. Brave of you to say that Craig. I grew up in the Hackney Labour Party of the eighties, which was a very different kettle of fish to today’s party, and the feminists were in the ascendant. The fact that many of them were men-hating lesbians seemed somehow congruent with the fact that were also very ugly.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    A. Margaret Thatcher donned headdress and a veil on a visit to ensure money from Saudi Arabia, so Eastern culture was respected.

    B. After the war with Kuwait was declared, there were contractual obligations to sell arms to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and in the Matrix Churchill scandal the British Government continued arms sales while at war with Iraq, so western legal culture was respected.

    C. Now, the University of Dundee is agonising how it is going to teach in an Arab country and honour Eastern and Western cultures at the same time. Judging from A and B above, obviously dress in traditional garb, then just take the money.

    No doubt, the University will ultimately follow the money trail, otherwise, I would be very surprised that a point of high principle did prevail over considerations of financial necessity.

    You lost your job Craig, because you placed the cart of principle before the horse of money. Are you again here not adequately weighing how the University is going to pull itself out of the financial doldrums ?” what is your solution when things boil down to these types of extreme choices? Accept the money or reject the gender segregation ( because that is what it is). Now make a clear choice ?” since you have no escape route and have here solicited bloggers advice ?” come on what is your answer? If you don’t answer convincingly, then I will lay down the law that on a point of principle you must immediately resign your position with the University of Dundee ?” that is the correct logical conclusion ?” so there!

  • JimmyGiro

    The danger with porn is that you might impregnate Jacqui via sensual deception, and give birth to something that would never have been aesthetically conceived…

    Joe99, what say you?

  • Joe99

    Jimmy:

    I’m just waiting for Craig to tell the one about the Hassan al Banna visiting a gay brothel in the Vatican at the next Scottish Islamic Foundation conference.

  • Jim Jay

    Hello, I was there (as a Green Party delegate).

    When you said this I have to say I grimaced as I knew it was going to provoke a negative response and so I wasn’t very surprised by the reaction by Elaine Heffernan from the floor (someone who was once dubbed “innane hefferlump” which I thought was very cruel).

    However, you’re right most of the hall laughed and the reaction against was a complete over reaction – very thought police-y. Your speech wasn’t full of sexist jokes it was a ballistic response to one single remark.

    I fail to see how they can be for a broad movement and then insist everyone conforms to one idea of how you’re meant to speak. Oh well.

    I’m sorry to hear you were harrangued on your way out and that even if you don’t feel you can still engage with the stop the war coalition it wont lessen your involvement in the movement that it attempts to represent (which it sometimes does very well, and sometimes does pretty poorly).

  • davie

    “but when I left I was harangued on the stairs by a young woman who made Jacqui Smith look positively alluring.”

    Whilst I agree that the reaction to your speech was indicative of a lack of a sense of humour, the above remark seems merely gratuitous.

  • NomadUK

    — Are you again here not adequately weighing how the University is going to pull itself out of the financial doldrums ?” what is your solution when things boil down to these types of extreme choices? —

    The answer should be clear: Fiat justitia ruat caelum.

  • Stephen

    These women are sex-negative. There are also sex-positive feminists. They are less controlling. STW has been inundated, even usurped, by SWP: Socialist Workers Party, an organisation notorious for entering newly developing grassroots movements and controlling them. It is no surprise they “get into bed” (isn’t that a choice metaphor) with sex-negative feminists.

    These sex-negative feminists will always hate men because the motive they are responding to has its roots not in enlightened equality but in the age-old power women enjoy over men, namely sexual power, which turns on their ability to make men feel ashamed for what they are and for their sexual desires.

    Feminists in the mould of the original Mary Wollstonecraft, following on from the liberalism of Mill, do not have an agenda of control. Theirs is one of freedom. Therefore they have no need to hate and control men. Theirs is a principle of enlightened equality for all human beings, not the untrammeled expansion of power for women over men. They don’t need to hate men or sex.

  • Strategist

    Well, Craig, you’re political incorrectness gone mad – so we must make allowances.

    I broadly agree with you but I do find that when a lighthearted salvo is fired on the web in the war of the sexes, and the women dare to fire back, it does tend to unleash a torrent of misogyny much of which goes beyond a joke.

    I think that it’s a generational thing. The world has moved on a lot since the 1980s battle of the sexes, and moved on again since the nineties/noughties lad/ladette thing. I wonder if we might now be about to emerge into a altogether better new era. But our generation will be stuck in the past of 70s/80s attitudes, which were themselves a reaction against the pretty gross sexism of the 60s and before, which nobody would want to return to.

  • MerkinOnParis

    ‘If I were married to Jacqui Smith, I would probably use a lot of porn too.’

    If I were married to Jacqui Smith’s husband I would probably use a lot of porn too.

    Everybody happy?

    PS I am not married and I don’t use porn, just the occasional bathplug or two.

  • Jaded

    I think both of your comments were

    more looksist than sexist. Sexist in the sense that women should look sexy to men I suppose. I’d probably reserve those jokes for after dinner speeches myself. No point in risking any damage to your credibility.

  • anticant

    Too many campaigners are humourless, but that doesn’t mean that those of us who aren’t should feel free to poke fun where we know it won’t be appreciated. The deplorable consequence of doing so is that attitudes which should merely be deplored as bad taste, and dismissed with a shrug, end up being criminalised in the false guise of “hate speech” and everyone’s freedom is diminished. I abhor ‘Political Correctness’, but I do try to avoid being deliberately provocative.

    Mary Wollstonecraft, btw, flourished and wrote in the 18th century – John Stuart Mill and his wife in the mid-19th. So she was the true pioneer of enlightened feminism.

  • Jon

    Well said, Strategist. Personally I am in two minds on political correctness: I think in general I would rescue it from the negative image painted by the tabloids and remember that the original idea was to discourage the growth of discriminatory ideology by avoiding stereotype-reinforcing language. But the original idea has been largely forgotten, and instead we suffer a few fools who think that ‘blackboard’ is racially discriminatory.

    Were I in that audience I would have laughed too: I am a male feminist, but not of the angry variety. What a shame that a representative of StWC – I speak as a contributing member – would be so rude to an invited speaker.

    I guess it is an example of the inability to sensibly prioritise different categories of belief. It reminds me of when I was collecting signatures against the occupation of Iraq some years ago. One angry women clearly wanted to sign, but went on her way shouting at us because we’d not used hemp paper.

    Anyway, I am somewhat amused at anyone who would defend Jacqui Smith on feminist grounds. Her nasty politics of the neo-conservative right are, to my mind at least, a subconscious demonstration that she can be as mean as the boys. Feminists should be championing anyone who opposes the politics of patriarchy – which surely does not include the Home Secretary.

  • Davie

    Hi Craig,

    I suspected it might be a wind up – excuse my po-facedness. It’s a long way down from a high horse.

  • JimmyGiro

    Jon wrote:

    “Feminists should be championing anyone who opposes the politics of patriarchy”

    How many fathers do you know, who would agree to the indoctrinal use of Ritalin on their sons?

    How many feminists do you know, who would not resort to such tools?

  • Craig

    Jon,

    Actually, I am against all forms of disadvantage on grounds of race, gender etc.

    Where I differ is that I view sexuality (as opposed to gender) as simply another attribute and as open to use and to humour as any other.

    As a teen I shovelled coal on a coalyard at weekends. In the course of the day men might easily lift and carry fifty tons of coal on their back, in hundredweight lots. I do not view that as any less explotation of the bodies than the work a prostitute does. And I don’t view clerical drudgery as essentially different.

  • eddie

    Actually, am I alone in thinking Ms Smith a tad hot? Perhaps it is that cleavage at the dispatch box – the combination of sex and power. Whoa.

  • craig

    I am not really with you on that one – not my type, more Max Mosley’s, I suspect – but neither is it really her physical appearance I was referring to. She could look like the young Carla Bruni, but with her politics and personality I wouldn’t want to spend time with her.

  • JimmyGiro

    If you squint, Harriet Harman can look quite tasty; especially if you’re squinting behind an ice hockey mask, and wielding a chain saw.

  • Jon

    @JimmyGiro – you forgot a third category. What would be the position of people who are both feminists *and* fathers? :o)

    @Craig:

    > Where I differ is that I view sexuality (as opposed

    > to gender) as simply another attribute and as

    > open to use and to humour as any other.

    That’s fair enough, and for clarification, my comment wasn’t designed as a criticism! Just reflecting on the PC debate in general.

    Admittedly, I can see how the feminists saw the comment in gender terms: (a) a woman seemed to be being judged on the basis of her attractiveness, and perhaps even (b) a statement was being made on the acceptability of pornography. However, you were doing neither, which is what your hecklers missed entirely.

    Daily Maybe makes a some good point: surely if 99% of a speech is fully agreed with, one would have to be an extremely difficult character to fulminate over the 1%. I have made the same mistake too, though thankfully not in a speech!

    I do hope StWC invite you back. They do need to stay a broad church, despite the “popular frontism” sniping of the communists. The movement won’t get anywhere with that attitude.

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