Tad Safran does it again…..
Louise Livesey // 18 December 2007
Further to his article on British Women being ugly and smelly (see here for the F Word’s take on it) Tad Safran has written a defence of his position. It goes along the lines of “I’m a man, I have testicles and this gives me the right” but it’s only fair to give him a chance to justify his views, right?
So here’s the edited version of his defence:
What started out as a light-hearted, anecdotal account of my impressions of dating women on both sides of the Atlantic has exploded into a national furore. And judging by the vitriol of the response, I realise I’ve not only touched a nerve, I’ve reached into the underbelly of a deep, dark insecurity. Nobody gets that defensive about something they don’t care about. by far the most common point the humourless drones want to make is that they’d rather be frumpy with wonderful personalities than Barbie dolls with nothing between their ears I don’t suggest that British women take the money from your education fund and put it towards plastic surgery. Nor do I suggest you take the hours per week dedicated to cultural and intellectual pursuits and use them for beauty treatments. Just take the time you dedicate to sitting on the sofa eating femur-sized Toblerones while watching EastEnders. And God forbid any woman should be motivated by trying to attract a man. Apparently British women have overcome a billion years of biology. Unfortunately, if you throw a rock in a British city centre, you’re slightly more likely to hit a girl resembling Vicky Pollard than Kate Moss. And I can’t help feeling I’ve let British women off lightly. It’s not just the Americans you don’t compare to: British women don’t have the curves of the Italians, the simmering sexuality of the Spanish, the sophistication of the French or the openness of the Scandinavians. Well done, Britain. If what women are striving for is the ability to get hammered and fall over in the street, Britain is a feminist paradise from coast to coast.
All from The Sunday Times
So lets start taking his pathetically superficial arguments apart shall we? First off, if you throw a rock in a town centre you’re more likely to hit Vicky Pollard than Kate Moss. Well maybe that’s because, in the words of Anita Roddick there are only around eight supermodels so by a law of averages you are more likely to hit the other 99.9999999% of womankind (plus, even metaphorically, why does Safran think it’s OK to throw rocks at women?). Safran’s fatal flaw here is to choose two extremes – working class, frumpy, track-suited ineloquent Vicki against anorexic, coke-head Kate. But Safran’s argument is also highly classed – what he does time and again is present images of the characatured working class women (eating cheap chocolate, watching soaps, dull, plain and work-horse-like) as “British” against the middle-class Americans he’s used to.
And indeed his images of America are middle class because working class women in America (largely black, hispanic or poor whites) are too busy working three jobs to be seen out at swanky nightclubs or cultural events which Safran obviously lauds. I’m fairly sure Safran will have never dated someone who worked at Dunkin Donuts or who tried to survive on welfare-to-work payments – why? Because they don’t have time to dedicate to pompous, elitist misogynists like Safran.
And Safran is apparently surprised that we might object to being called lardy-arsed lay-abouts without pride. But this is not, in Safran’s opinion, because we’re righteously annoyed by some middle-class yob calling us names but because we’ve been shamed. Only I feel nothing but contempt for a man who dismisses a whole country of women on the basis of his (obviously very limited) experience. Nobody gets defensive about something they don’t care about? Damn right and I care that his inane analysis of British women can do no better than compare us to our “exotic” European neighbours. His concluding paragraph about the curvy Italians and the open-minded Swede’s rather smacks of a sex-tourists intrigue about the lascivious and understanding nature of (trafficked, imprisoned and probably under-age) Thai prostitutes. I care that to Safran women are just things to be ranked and rated rather than individuals with amazing characters, spirit and verve. Perhaps Safran forgot to mention that his article prompted a great feminine characteristic of British women, their unwillingness to suffer fools gladly and their no-nonsense attitude to egotistical preening by men like Safran.
And no most British women don’t simper and comfort men the way some Americans (mostly those on god-awful dating shows) do. We don’t feel the need to make up for the deficit in men’s confidence and we don’t generally feel the need to continually wear a mask of delightful, empty-headed vacuity so that the delicate flowers of manhood don’t feel threatened. Instead we seek genuine men who will be helpmeets and partners in a country which works the longest hours of any in Europe and has amongst the highest level of female employment – perhaps the Italians, the French and the Spanish have more time to spend on themselves when many, especially working class women in Britain live on a never ending conveyor belt of low paid work, under valued domestic labour and informal care arrangements created by successive governments staff by and pandering to the sorts of men that Safran obvious counts himself amongst.
So as for his point that we’d all rather be frumpy than Barbie, I’m wholly with his assessment. And he’s right, the two are not mutually exclusive, except in the eyes of men who treat women as objects and judge first on looks, never getting to personality because they are blinded by their own misogyny. And yes some British women have decided that a biological imperative to procreate isn’t the same as a mythical biological imperative to don callous causing high heels and chemical laden toiletries. In fact many women disagree that the need to procreate is biologically determined, and certainly the slavish adherence to reproduction being women’s greatest achievement is rather dismissed. Safran, by confusing wanting to attract a mate with make-up and clothes, is misguided. Women don’t need the sort of out-dated mate Safran represents, those who want mates are finding them amongst a group of men and women who understand that the truth is deeper than the trapping and skin-level appearance of the potential mate.
Perhaps Tad Safran would be more comfortable back in the US where the intolerant and religious right maintain a desire to shackle women back into corsets and continual childbirth and where poor people don’t have the audacity to be seen in public unless they are running from job to job. A place where appearance may well be more important than substance (look at the president they elected for the last two terms for example) and where more is spent on pornography and television than on helping people out of poverty.
Or, as Catie from Glasgow puts it in the comments:
Having seen the picture, Tad himself looks a bit of a minger and so perhaps should be thankful for what he gets, groomed or not.
From the Sunday Times