BBC and sexism – why it’s more complicated than that

// 4 February 2009

So the BBC has said Carol Thatcher is dropped from reporting for The One Show for an obscenely racist comment made off-camera and out of studio in a conversation about a tennis player. The analogy she drew was grossly racist, insulting and deeply shameful for both her and the BBC (who, I’d aver couldn’t have been entirely unaware of her racism prior to this). But the situation got me thinking – when Jeremy Clarkson normalised violence against women and made a joke of the murder of five women in Ipswich the BBC defended him saying viewers “wouldn’t take it seriously” despite 500 complaints from viewers who obviously did take it seriously. It leaves me asking the question – where’s the parity?

Well, as the title says, it’s more complicated than that. The One Show staff complained about the comment by Thatcher and that was taken seriously. Those staff (who I applaud for taking a stand) however are those who’ve “made it” in the techical aspects of TV work. If you look at the Top Gear that list is very largely men-only. My point – given the BBC’s stated position that viewers don’t matter and production crew do it’s a de facto statement that sexism will continue apace where the BBC is reliant on crew complaining rather than viewers. It also reinforces the homosocial nature of the those shows as spaces which are allowed to be sexist because it’s a boys club in which people don’t complain – the problem them being that even if women working on the show want to complain they can’t without losing their place within that homosocial setting (i.e. for women to fit in they must become just “one of the boys”).

So, Thatcher’s racism and Clarkson’s sexism are both wrong. But one is defended and one has serious consequences. Why? Entrenched, institutional sexism.

As an addendum and following up on recent posts and comments about political correctness – needless to say Melanie Phillips has decided to try and gain some mileage out of this by declaring those who complained about Thatcher to be “snitches” who are like the Stasi and KGB. This further reinforces the closed-club mentality and demeans all who take a stand against bigotry.

Phllips (and Thatcher’s by the way) justification is that if it was “a joke” it’s therefore exempt from the category of offensive speech. I hear this well-worn fallacy so many times it’s not true – offensive speech is offensive speech, and yes sometimes it might be funny, but it’s still offensive speech. If we “joke” about raping women or lynching LGBT people or beating up minority ethnic people we’re still saying the same thing. As for the idea that making a valid complaint about racism is “snitching” then roll on the snitches as far as I’m concerned – perhaps it says more about Phillips own concerns of being “outed” as a bigot (although surely she’s done that more than enough herself) than about real, valid opposition to creating some sort of just society. Thatcher has refused to admit that her comments were unacceptable – Phillips may do well to examine that rather than issues of why people complained. But then the BBC would do well to examine why a grossly offensive comment by a woman, in the green room with two other people present resulted in her being effectively sacked whilst grossly offensive comments by men, on national television to thousands of viewers results in them getting pay increased and the full protection of the BBC.

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 4 February 2009 at 11:50 am

Once again racism trumps sexism because racism affects both women and men whereas sexism affects only women. This is why the BBC reacted so swiftly in removing Carol Thatcher. Jonathan Ross was not sacked for making sexually degrading comments about women, because women are not human and women cannot be sexually insulted. Now men as a group are human and this includes men who do not belong to the white group hence racist comments are rightly seen as insulting and designed to keep non-white groups subordinate to whites. But what is frequently ignored is the fact women too belong to groups which are not white but this fact is commonly invisibilised because as I said above women are not human. Sexism? What sexism it does not exist within the BBC’s world and neither does it apparently exist within society as a whole.

Saranga // Posted 4 February 2009 at 11:54 am

If Thatcher is gonna be banned from the BBC I also want Princes Harry and Charles banned.

Lynsey // Posted 4 February 2009 at 1:10 pm

Sexism is never taken as seriously as any other kind of prejudice. Look at Big brother; every night Coolio and Verne called women ‘hos and bitches’ and they didn’t even get reprimanded. It’s perfectly acceptable in our society. It’s such a shame.

Jess McCabe // Posted 4 February 2009 at 2:03 pm

I think we need to be extremely careful about making these kinds of comparisons.

Thatcher was rightly booted from the show for making a comment which was extremely racist and beyond the pale. But the complaint was lodged by two celebrities on the show, as far as I understand it. That also contributes to how much weight it was given, not just that it was by staff at the BBC, and that it was a racist slur everyone understands as racist.

That doesn’t mean that similar off-air comments, or more subtly racist comments, are dealt with in a similar way.

It doesn’t mean there aren’t similar struggles of institutional racism, and institutional racist sexism, within the BBC. I’d suspect there are.

Also, it seems to me that certain racist slurs are considered widely unacceptable, and taboo. What’s not considered taboo is the more ingrained sorts of racism, and it’s dangerous to assert that because those racist slurs are taboo, that means racism is taken more seriously than sexism.

What I mean, I think, is that people don’t want to be called a racist, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to dealing with racism on any more of a serious level, and there are the same basic problems with getting people to do that as getting people to deal with sexism or acknowledge sexism.

Let’s try and avoid the Oppression Olympics…!

Louise Livesey // Posted 4 February 2009 at 4:13 pm

Jess you’re absolutely right this isn’t about comparison, which I’d hoped I’d made clear in my piece. The version I heard was that the celebrities hauled Thatcher on it and told the crew the story and some members of crew complained but I guess different versions will always arise. And, by the way, some (like Melanie Phillips and Carol Thatcher) don’t agree it’s a racist slur but that’s by the by.

What’s important here is that there are hidden processes at play – like the homosocial nature of technical environments which allow certain forms of bigotry free reign. It’s a positive sign that the BBC did something in this case and it’s not taken for granted that will always be the case nor that it’ll even be consistent in similar cases. But I can only hope they continue their new found anti-bigtory zeal into the realms of sexism too!

Kez // Posted 4 February 2009 at 4:41 pm

Melanie Phillips’ article is shocking (no surprise there). Among other things, she says: “People say or do all kinds of things which are perfectly acceptable in the context of drinks with friends or colleagues” (really? perfectly acceptable?? I think not. I wouldn’t personally find it acceptable if someone used that language in a private conversation) and suggests that Carol Thatcher was being picked on in some way because of who her mother is.

Jess McCabe // Posted 4 February 2009 at 5:42 pm

Sorry, I should have made it clear that I was largely responding to Jennifer, when she said: “Once again racism trumps sexism because racism affects both women and men whereas sexism affects only women. ”

I don’t think that Melanie Phillips or Carol Thatcher in all honesty don’t know a racist slur when they see one; they know it’s unacceptable, but they hold racist views so they don’t care and personally I see their statements to the contrary as disingenuous.

missing words // Posted 4 February 2009 at 6:23 pm

JENNIFER DREW said: “Once again racism trumps sexism because racism affects both women and men whereas sexism affects only women.”


“Now men as a group are human and this includes men who do not belong to the white group”

Jennifer – what purpose does such a statement make apart from pit differently oppressed people against each other?

Do the fully human non-white men you speak of include the thousands currently locked up in detention centres around the UK??

“Let’s try and avoid the Oppression Olympics…!”

Thank you Jess!

Amy Clare // Posted 5 February 2009 at 11:26 am

I don’t want to start the Oppression Olympics (I really don’t like that term!) either but neither does it make any sense to ignore that in some cases racism seems to be treated (outwardly, anyway) as being ‘more wrong’ than sexism. Big Brother is a case in point. Jade Goody et al were rightly condemned for their remarks and were on TV all remorseful and crying and saying “I’m not a racist, honest!” etc – when has it ever happened that a man on TV has been criticised for sexism, and had to try and win the public’s forgiveness while snivelling into a hanky on the This Morning couch? It is this kind of disparity that creates the perceived ‘Oppression Olympics’. Whether the media is just paying lip service to anti racism (I suspect it is), this is still more attention than sexism gets.

Also, regarding the BBC, I once wrote in to complain about an episode of HIGNFY where Lee Mack was guest presenter and directed an outrageously sexist comment at guest Shami Chakrabarti. It was something like “she’s stupid because she’s a woman” – as blatant as that. I made the point in my letter that it wouldn’t have been acceptable for him to say “she’s stupid because she’s Asian” – if he’d said anything like that, it wouldn’t have aired. The reply I got said something about “different types of comedy” and “individual tastes” and “pushing the boundaries” – almost as offensive as the comment itself! As if sexism is pushing any boundaries! Give me a break.

I really think that in society generally, and in the media, some prejudices are seen as more acceptable than others. That’s not to say that those prejudices seen as less acceptable therefore no longer exist. We should be careful that we don’t make comparisons like this a taboo subject. Everything is subject to examination, no?

harpymarx // Posted 5 February 2009 at 11:49 am

Indeed Jess, you make very good comments about this and so does Missing Words. Agree with you both.

Frankly, I think it was correct to boot Thatcher off for her vile racist remark. We challenge and confront oppression when we encounter it. All forms of oppression have to fought, and there’s no such thing as one form of oppression trumping another. And we need to argue against this belief in a hierarchy of oppression.

Kez // Posted 5 February 2009 at 11:51 am

I agree with Missing Words. How is this hierarchy of oppression helpful?

Many non-white people – both men and women – would (rightly) argue that they too have often been seen as less than human. As (again, rightly) would many disabled men and women. Granted, many people suffer from multiple oppressions and being female only exacerbates this. But I’m not sure that Carol Thatcher, say, is fundamentally more powerless or less “human” than, say, the non-white men who Missing Words refers to – or indeed the tennis player about whom she felt perfectly justified in using a racist epithet.

I don’t think a sweeping statement like “men are human, women are not” really gets us anywhere.

Maia // Posted 5 February 2009 at 12:33 pm

I think Carol Thatcher absolutely deserved to be sacked for her racist remark. Apart from that, I thought she was hopeless at her job. Her agent says she’s been sacked because of who she is, but if she hadn’t been who she is she would never have got that job in the first place.

And people might scoff about “oppression olympics”, but Jennifer Drew is right – racism IS always dealt with more severely (or just dealt with, period) than sexism. My question is, why do some people want to deny this?

Cara // Posted 5 February 2009 at 1:41 pm

Amy Clare – I saw that episode of HIGNFY too and complained. Didn’t get any response at all if I remember correctly.

I agree with your comment. Most people actually get that blatant racism is, y’know, bad. It may be largely lip service, and I agree that is is, but at least they’ve done their anti-racism 101. The vast majority of the public have not got past feminism nursery school.

Anne Onne // Posted 5 February 2009 at 3:14 pm

Maia, I won’t speak for everyone, but the reason I believe it important to be very, very careful when comparing different forms of discrimination are as follows:

Some people who advocate for rights for one group are operating from a place of privilege with respect to other groups. It’s a lot easier to think that your oppression is the worst if you can’t see or experience other forms, for example. Therefore every time we think we’re worst off, it’s important to remember that it may be our privilege blinding us to the realities of someone else’s experience.

Some people go further and use their oppression as a means and justification for blaming or oppressing others (example: anti-black sentiment due to Prop 8 passing in the US.). There are plenty of people who identify as feminist but alienate minorities, just as there are LGBTQI activists who may be misogynistic or racist. Insisting that one type of marginalisation is special is a

It also alienates those who are LGBTQI and POC and women. Who feel that they’re constantly having the sides they agree with and are a part of fight against each other and claim that they’re the ones who are worse off.

It may also be that the whole issue is more complex than ‘women get it harder than POC’. Some types of racist comments get more backlash from the government, but the fact that the people who make them get outpourings of public sympathy, and inches upon inches of newspaper columns by white Anglo-Saxons tell us that it wasn’t really that racist, and everyone’s just being too PC. In short, there appears to be a bit more action against this from the company involved, but when it comes down to society, people are still very willing to be racist so long as they preface it with ‘I’m not a racist’.

Racism STILL isn’t really dealt with: there’s merely a bit more of a pretense to care about it. Just watching the Wright Stuff whenever there’s a new race row (or sexism row) reminds me of how eager most people are to reaffirm the status quo whilst congratulating themselves on being open-minded.

So I think it important to be wary of ‘Oppression Olympics’ because whilst analysis can be good, comparing how we’re all getting sgreed over differently is a divide and conquer strategy of the patriarchy, as well as a troll tactic that leaves us open to run with our privilege rather than work to confront it. Let’s analyse, but blanket statements about how we have it harder can give the impression we resent POC for getting less crap in one instance, or having that crap slightly more recognised. Racism being recognised is good, and complaining about it feels like we want to drag it down to the lowest common denominator, rather than work to a higher standard for all.

I’m sure most people here don’t intend all of the above problematic aspects, but it’s precisely the fact that comparisons can do more harm than good which I feel means we need to encourage racism getting called out, and then demand sexism being called out to the same extent.

Yes, sometimes that might mean pointing out that ‘If you had said [racist equivalent comment] it would not stick, if that’s what it takes for people to realise something’s wrong, then it’s not always a bad thing to point this out (such as the way some people phrase it here).

To me it’s all in how the issue is phrased. One person may come across as acknowledging and supoortive of all equality whemn drawing a comparative analysis, and another as complaining that people take racism so seriously, and nobody cares about sexism, as if racism is over.

We still get so many people claiming ‘X is the last acceptable prejudice!!!1!’, which is really offensive to all the other people who still have a lot to deal with. Given how easy it is to be both mistaken for such a troll even though we intend something else, or forgetting our privilege and being a bit of a troll (something we all do), I think it’s important for us to try and distance ourselves from the rhetoric of those we’re against, and be careful in how we phrase things.

I don’t object to pointing out that it’s a shame sexist comments aren’t treated as harshly, but I don’t want to frame it as racism being treated too seriously, or not being an issue any more.

Alex T // Posted 5 February 2009 at 7:53 pm

Amy Clare and Cara

I complained about an episode of HIGNFY which included the scripted (not ad-libbed) use of the word ‘retard’. I seem to have got the same response as you, Amy (‘can’t you take a joke?’ blah blah) – I don’t think they even bother to read the complaints!

Aimee // Posted 6 February 2009 at 8:06 am

I don’t really understand. There IS a clear heirarchy here, where one form of oppression is seen as more severe than the other, and is dealt with accordingly. Sexism is always laughed off… it’s acceptable, racism is not. The comparisons made in this article and in some of the comments show that clearly. I’m not saying we should actively oppose people who feel that they are victims of racism. Not at all. But as a separate group of people who are discriminated against, for different reasons, (please note, I am by no means saying that all feminists are white, I am simply separating race and gender), the issues are also separate.

Whilst I think that all discrimination essentially exists in the same boat, it is fair to say that society makes clear distinctions between things like race and gender. In this instance, issues of race are presented as more important than issues of gender and this is not right. I don’t see why this can’t be seen as a point of contention, because like some other posters have said, it IS a feminist issue, because race effects men AND women. Feminism, (arguably) effects just women. Why is it okay to demean women, but not MEN and women?

Ellie // Posted 6 February 2009 at 11:27 am

Boris Johnson wades into the debate ( with:

“you take that person on one side and say, ‘Listen you’ve got to understand we’ve got to work together and you’ve got watch what you say and you’ve got to be sensitive,’ but I don’t think you fire someone. I really don’t”

God help us all.

Maia // Posted 6 February 2009 at 12:10 pm

Anne Onne, yes, you are totally right. I do take your point – much better made than mine!

Louise Livesey // Posted 6 February 2009 at 2:46 pm

Aimee – the problem with the idea of a hierarchy is that is conceives of the situation as distinct groups with no overlap. The idea that you can split off gender from race is a sign of privilege. It ignores the way that oppressions intersect so an asian woman may be discriminated against because she is asian, because she is a woman or because she is an asian woman (Delgado and Stefancic do a great bit on this in Introductiong to Critical Race Theory).

It also suggests that there is a competition between oppressed groups which leaves the powerful always in a stronger position (“yes pit them against each other, that way they can’t work together to end oppressions!”).

What I was getting across here wasn’t “it’s not fair, racism is taken more seriously, that shouldn’t happen” (which would demand a levelling-down of approach) but “Damn right that was racist, now can we expand that focus to look at other oppressions too” (which is a levelling-up).

Laurel Dearing // Posted 6 February 2009 at 3:07 pm

i dont think it really suggests a competition. its more of a guideline of showing how far we have to go. most people would agree racism is still a problem, so to point out how that is dealt with in the media and in social groups in comparison to sexism shows a lot of difference. nobody here is wanting the issues of POC or anyone else taken les seriously, just for us to catch up and i dont se how thats a problem. i wouldnt think anybody on here would assume otherwise except to be pedantic but perhaps it shows that we should consider how we pitch what we say more when talking to a wider group. i do find that a lot of the people that i would want to call out wouldnt respond well to long articulate debates as it sounds like blah to them and would rather we could make quick points and comparisons that make sense to them.

Anne Onne // Posted 6 February 2009 at 3:27 pm

@ Ellie: well, it Is Boris, the kind of man who doesn’t learn after racism rows, benefits from not being fired for his idiotic ‘slips’ that people seem to find charming (!) because he’s a loose cannon. The only way they managed to make him stop embarrassing himself was to babysit him constantly during his campaign. As someone who got into more than his fair share of race rows, you think he’d have the sense to consider himself lucky and stay quiet.

But I guess it boils down to this:

@ Aimee: We can argue that channel 4 took Big Brother racism more seriously than sexism (though lots of people here pointed out excellent points about how Jade Goody, a working class, mixed race woman was a handy person to blame), but this is a different channel. Also, bearing in mind that people tend to suffer very little from race rows if they are at all privileged. Jade Goody? Vilified. Boris Johnson? Lauded. We see a lot of people being slapped on the wrists for racism, but they don’t really suffer anything since most of the media agrees with them, or feels sorry about how a ‘harmless joke’ got taken too seriously. Society definitely makes more of an effort to point out racism, but it’s only a small step better than feminism, since it’s only just pointed out. People quickly assure themselves it wasn’t really THAT racist and go on with their lives.

I agree that there is a difference in how the two are percieved, which I think boils down to women being more closely linked to men by the structure of society than people of colour to white people. society feels POC and LGBTQI people are ‘them’, whereas it feels it owns ‘our’ women. There’s more of an urge to be seen to be doing the right thing so that ‘they’ don’t complain too much, but I think that probably rises from the fact that POC are still percieved as very much the other. Media coverage of how racism is dealt with doesn’t show any difference in how people really percieve sexism or racism in that both are normally defended or made allowances for, if in subtly different ways.

Even the most hardcore misogynist will have contact with many women in their life, a convenient excuse to say ‘I’m not sexist, my wife says so too!’. Women also make up a much larger part of society, which means there are more misogynistic women out there, too. I definitely think the media presents more women defending sexism than LGBTQI people defending homophobia or POC defending racism.

The different ways that society treats different marginalised groups, and how we as groups treat ourselves makes a big difference in what is considered acceptable. How could a sexism be treated as seriously when so many women openly defend sexism in the media? I’m not going to blame them for all this, but in many people’s eyes, women ‘can’t be sexist’ and I think this is a very handy excuse for people to deny anything is sexist. As long as a woman might have agreed with it once, it’s absolutely fine! *sarcasm*

As for the women vs. men and women, I think that’s a bit simplistic. We can argue that sexism is harming WHITE women as well as women of colour, just like it harms men of colour. I doubt that racism is less acceptable specifically because there are men involved, rather that it’s due to the way that different groups of minorities interact. And whatever political agenda suits society best at the time.

Maybe we’ll have to agree to disagree, but I’m sure we can agree that we want people to be taken to task for every kind of discrimination.

@ Maia: I have to admit, it’s an important question to ask. It does grate when you see people making some effort (however half-assed) to prevent one form of discrimination, but refuse to do anything about another. I just like to think of it in terms of examining how the differences occur, and what shortcomings there are in reactions to all forms of discrimination, rather than comparing in a way that feels counterproductive. I want more of the above, and complaining that one thing is noticed feels like I’m complaining about people noticing racism, rather than not noticing sexism. Considering how much of both goes unnoticed, it feels a bit depressing to look at it like that.

Aimee // Posted 6 February 2009 at 3:48 pm

Louise. Yes you’re right! I would of course expect people to be reprimanded severely for racism! But I expect the same response for sexism. And it is of course a good thing that people ARE being reprimanded for sexism. But I think it shows, by comparison how sexism is ignored. I know it’s not desirable at all to imply that the two issues are in opposition, but situations like this, where one clearly takes precedence over the other, almost force that to happen. I think that’s why we have to say that it’s not fair or right for sexism to be ignored – because that encourages a heirarchy, when we should be eroding it.

Rachel // Posted 6 February 2009 at 4:20 pm

Before Carol Thatcher was fired for her racist comment I would probably have agreed that racism is taken more seriously than sexism. However, the ridiculous amount of discussion in the media about whether it was right to sack her has unfortunately made me realise that there are an awful lot of people in the UK who don’t actually think racism is a problem. Good on the BBC for taking such quick and decisive action on this occasion (shame they don’t always), but you only have to listen to radio phone-ins on the subject to realise how controversial that action was. It’s really depressing! It’s made me think that in fact racism is tolerated or seen as acceptable just as much as sexism by much of the population. The number of people I’ve heard say that removing ‘golliwogs’ from sale is ‘political correctness gone made’ is astounding.

Hazel // Posted 6 February 2009 at 6:01 pm

Louise asked why a woman had been sacked when men are let off. I think Carol Thatcher being a woman had little to do with it. Sarah Kennedy (Radio 2 dj) has made at least two “race blunders” (c Daily Mail) in her broadcasting career and is still in a job.

I think it was more about who Thatcher is and who complained about what she said.

However, I despair that in the 21st century people can display such ugly attitudes as expressed by Thatcher and all the outraged people who have complained to the BBC about her sacking from the programme. I can imagine that the folk complaining are quite likely to be the types that mutter that the youth of today are so disrespectful.

Petey Lu // Posted 8 February 2009 at 10:00 pm

I frequently stumble upon this website and always enjoy reading the article upon which I stumble. Most of the time I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in the article. It was the comments about Top Gear which have made me pause for thought this time though. True the presenters on TG (Mr Clarkson especially) lack almost any form of tact or subtlety on the issue of sexism. The fact is though that occasionally boys do just want to be boys. We do need some bastions of ‘manliness’. I can’t honestly think of a single man I know who takes TG comments seriously but I also can’t think of one who doesn’t enjoy TG! If we do need our ‘boys club’ then better for it to be a one hour show on a Sunday night than some other outlet surely?

Louise Livesey // Posted 9 February 2009 at 2:08 pm

Dear Petey, Thanks for commenting. I have two major problems with your argument though:

1. would you also say that racists just need somewhere where bigots can be bigots? Or homophobes need somewhere where homophobes can be homophobes? If not then why is sexism treated differently?

2. you assume all men are the same and want the same things when, in fact, this isn’t the case. Do all men want a space where they can be “boys”? Or is your argument that heteronormative, sexist men should be indulged because they are a special case? In which case what’s the special argument that should apply or is it just that you think heteronormative, sexist men should be indulged because challenging their privilege is uncomfortable?

Anna // Posted 9 February 2009 at 3:53 pm

Ah, ‘boys will be boys’.. that all-encompassing, all-forgiving statement..

Aimee // Posted 9 February 2009 at 7:00 pm

Petey, I don’t see why women should be ignored as an audience in an otherwise quite enjoyable programme about cars, which a lot of women are interested in. Why does it have to be so gendered in the first place? and why should we be denied access to it because of the gender stereotype? I like Top Gear, as a programme! I know some men, my boyfriend, for example, who don’t… that doesn’t mean anything at all other than stereotypes aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Your argument that men need a bastion of manliess, works on the assumption that “masculinity” is a uniform and naturally occurring thing, when it’s significantly impacted upon by cultural influences and social conditioning. Perhaps instead of needing somewhere to retreat to when your masculinity is threatened, we could stop seeing women as a threat, and instead as another, dynamic individual to share your experiences with, as you might see the other men in your boy’s club.

JOHN TURNBULL // Posted 12 February 2009 at 5:51 pm

whereas sexism affects only women,


And there’s me thinking only men were sexist!

JOHN TURNBULL // Posted 15 February 2009 at 11:03 am

Petey, “boys need somewere to be boys” so they have to be in a place were sexist comments are made to make them a real boy/man, I guess boys shoudn’t cry eaither or show emotion because it’s feminin? This kind of comment makes me so annoyed, how many boys/men become represed and need therapy later in life because they weren’t able to cry when they were younger? How many relationships break up because they can’t show their emotions because it’s not the manly thing? Please stop with the boys club attitude that it’s alright for us men to belittle women. We “men” are not all the same and neither are women but what we all are is equals.

Sorry about the spelling lol.

JOHN TURNBULL // Posted 15 February 2009 at 2:36 pm

PETEY, watch this and then tell me your still proud to be a member of the boys will be boys club

Petey Lu // Posted 19 March 2009 at 1:46 am

My apologies for the late response.

I would like to say that I never suggested men repress emotion, to me it seems several assumptions have been made about my character which are wrong. Offering an unpopular opinion in a debate does not make me a closed off alpha male stereotype. I think that I express my emotions freely (too freely sometimes) and I have never been afraid to cry or felt the need to repress tears on matters of emotion. Back to the debate.

I don’t think racists need a place to be bigots no but I do think that occasionally men do need a place to be men (whatever your definition of being a ‘man’ may be). Being a man may simply involve reading a book. I do think it is important for both men and women to be allowed to spend time away from the opposite sex if they wish. If the goal is equality, then forcing men and women to do every activity together (and thus finding ways to make those activities enjoyable and acceptable for both sexes) is not equality. Equality should be equal pay and equal treatment of both sexes, not stifling what someone may think or say which is what would have to happen for everyone to feel happy and unthreatened all the time if men and women have to cohabit peacefully ALL the time. Hence why I think men should have ‘the boys club’ (a term I personally despise for many reasons) and women should, if they so wish, have a girls club. As long as ‘the boys club’ is just a break from the opposite sex and not a preferred state than I see no problem with this. It is when ‘the boys club’ becomes the norm rather than the break that sexism becomes unacceptable as then treatment and pay become unequal. Not my most eloquently stated argument but I hope my point is clear.

Rachel // Posted 19 March 2009 at 2:02 pm

Petey Lu – I don’t want to get involved in a discussion about whether or not men should need a place without women, but if they do, I don’t think a tv show on prime time BBC2 should be that place.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 19 March 2009 at 2:43 pm

John Turnbull men cannot be sexist and the reason why is because ‘whilst negative stereotypes about men can make them uncomfortable and hurt their feelings, but antimale stereotypes come primarily from women, a subordinate, culturally devalued group that lacks authority in a male-identified, male-dominated, male-centered society. In other words if the source is a woman, the damage stereotypes can do is pretty much confined to personal hurt with little if any effect in the larger world. This is because antimale stereotypes are not rooted in a culture that regards maleness itself as inherently dangerous, inferior, ridiculous, disgusting or undesirable. Such stereotypes can therefore be written off as the bitter ravings of a group (women but not men) beneath being taken seriously. Antimale stereotypes also can’t be used to keep men down as a group, to lock them in an inferior and disadvantaged status, to justify abuse and violence against them or to deprive them of fair treatment.’ Courtesy of Alan G. Johnson The Gender Knot: Unravelling Our Patriarchal Legacy.

Finally, John Turnbull do not engage in personal insults, remember the guidelines concerning comments.

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