As PromisedPosted: November 9, 2007
I am feeling better, and therefore, you shall have your answers, Alan. As this is designed to inform not just Alan, but anybody who is interested, it may at times make statements that Alan and Kirsten are already well aware of.
Firstly, I’m going to take the ‘smaller picture’ – the comment that started this particular chain of events. For clarity, you may wish to reread can I run away to a feminist commune please?
This was Kirsten detailing events at her college that have made her angry as a feminist. The part that Alan focussed on was this:
“Apart from the guy at the charity performance who sang about how women couldn’t drive. It was an adaptation of the song from the ‘Sheila’s Wheels’ adverts which was meant to be funny. Based on the idea that women are rubbish drivers, which is neither new nor true, and is just blatant sexism.”
Nowhere in this paragraph, or indeed anywhere else in the post, did Kirsten express any approval for the Sheila’s Wheels adverts.
So Alan’s comment that “If Sheila’s wheels are allowed to sell and advertise themselves as a sexist insurance company I don’t really see why an equally sexist parody of them is such a big issue!” is missing the point for two reasons.
– Kirsten is not, and has never, condoned the Sheila’s Wheels adverts. While I don’t presume to speak for her on this, my own opinion has always been that the adverts are every bit as bad as the many, many adverts that only feature women as “wives and mothers” (almost any food advert) or “cock-hungry sluts” (the Lynx effect). Yes, the Sheila’s Wheels adverts are a parody of a stereotype. But they are still reinforcing this stereotype, keeping it part of popular culture, and I am uncomfortable with that. This is the wider issue at stake; namely, that Sheila’s Wheels, almost every food advert, and Lynx, can all advertise their products by trading off two-dimensional portraits of women.* I should think that most feminists would agree that this kind of advertising is both wrong and unhelpful, and should not be allowed to happen.
– It is a fallacy to suggest that simply because something is allowed to happen, that it should be allowed to happen. This is profoundly illogical. If I am “allowed” to walk out of a restaurant without paying – ie, nobody stops me – does this make it right? Does this mean that I should never be challenged, simply because of precedent?
And actually, sexism is wrong. It doesn’t matter that it happens. It doesn’t matter how much it happens, or where, or why, or when, or to whom. It is just wrong. Unless you can accept that statement as fact, there can be no agreement between us.
*Lest we forget Teh Menz, I will say that the innevitable two-dimensional portraits of men drinking beer and being slobbish are also wrong, and harmful, and should not be allowed to happen.
Now, it may seem harsh that Kirsten should not give you that reply herself. But there is a ‘bigger picture’ here, and the bigger picture is this:
The answer I gave above was the “short” answer. It is not particularly short. It required my time and energy, and I have done you, Alan, the courtesy of giving this up for you. I have done this once before (reread What Is So Wrong… and Oh, For Fuck’s Sake…) for you, and, like this, it was time-consuming and tiring. I am not telling you this to get a gold star, or a round of applause. I am telling you this because it appears that you do not realise it.
I know that Kirsten has done the same thing. However, this was a little while ago, and right now I would rather finish this post than hunt through Kirsten’s archives.
I also know that both myself and Kirsten have had problems with you behaving in a way that would often mark you out as a Troll (a reader, usually male, who attempts to change or derail a discussion, in a variety of ways).
For instance, to refer you to an exact post, I could use I should not have to say this, by Kirsten.
In this, I believe she was making a point about the way that society has come to think of breasts – and, from that, the possession of breasts, and thus being female in general – as “unprofessional”.
In your comments, you used illogical arguments – “you never saw Jack Straw or David Blunkett, or Charles Clark dressed in anything that could be described as “revealing”…. And all of the above were the subject of ridicule because of physical appearance in one way or another (e.g. “Trophy Ears”).” and also attempted to divert the discussion – “To be quite frank though I’d much rather be arguing right now over if she is more or less of a paranoid delusional than John Reid was.”
Although I have only given one example, there are others. This is Trollish behaviour and would not be tolerated if you did not happen to be a man that we know in person. To put it bluntly, your behaviour has been rude. Kirsten has been affected by it more than me, and it is therefore natural that Kirsten would have given up on you before I did.
As she said, “When you’ve disagreed before I’ve responded a great length, and never got a proper answer from you. I cannot be bothered to have that conversation again.”
Alan, you need to listen and you need to think. We are not here to educate you. Women are not here to educate you, especially about feminism. We are all aware that you are intelligent. It would be better for our discussions, however, if you were to use your intelligence to think about what we have written, think about the point you want to make and if it is a relevant or appropriate point to be making. If it isn’t, please say it elsewhere.
Please note that while I am happy to clarify, I will not be repeating this.