Tanya Gold on Susan Boyle

// 17 April 2009

In today’s Guardian, Tanya Gold points out the misogyny inherent in the reaction to Susan Boyle, the by now infamous Scottish woman who has emerged as the favourite to win Britain’s Got Talent.

Susan got an incredibly hard time from audience and judges alike, and is now the subject of article after article expressing shock at the loveliness of her voice. Not just in Britain, but all intentionally. Hell, I live in America, and I saw being interviewed live on breakfast news this morning, asked a perky blonde news anchor via a satellite link where she finds her courage. Nobody’s asking the pretty, lithe young ones that. They’re just assumed to be gagging to show off. Since the original series’ of Popstars and Big Brother the default personality is exhibitionist.

And still, we’re all shocked. Surprised that she even has the courage to do it. Pleased, perhaps. But shocked. I was. Why?

Why are we so shocked when “ugly” women can do things, rather than sitting at home weeping and wishing they were somebody else? Men are allowed to be ugly and talented. Alan Sugar looks like a burst bag of flour. Gordon Ramsay has a dried-up riverbed for a face. Justin Lee Collins looks like Cousin It from The Addams Family. Graham Norton is a baboon in mascara. I could go on. But a woman has to have the bright, empty beauty of a toy – or get off the screen. We don’t want to look at you. Except on the news, where you can weep because some awful personal tragedy has befallen you.

As Gold goes on to say, this doesn’t happen in the same way to the male contestants:

I know what you will say. You will say that Paul Potts, the fat opera singer with the equally squashed face who won Britain’s Got Talent in 2007, had just as hard a time at his first audition. I looked it up on YouTube. He did not. “I wasn’t expecting that,” said Simon to Paul. “Neither was I,” said Amanda. “You have an incredible voice,” said Piers. And that was it.

Comments From You

Kez // Posted 17 April 2009 at 8:04 pm

But my goodness, Tanya Gold is far crueller about Susan Boyle’s appearance than anyone else was. “A piece of pork sitting on a doily”? Is that really necessary?

Cate // Posted 17 April 2009 at 8:23 pm

kez – you have voiced my reaction to tanya Gold’s article exactly.

I had to go back and reread the bit where she describes Boyle as ‘small and rather chubby, with a squashed face, unruly teeth and unkempt hair’ this morning to work out whether she was supporting the singer or criticising her. And why the needlessly harsh comments about male celebrities appearances? How is making nasty, childish remarks about other people helping anyone?

maggie // Posted 17 April 2009 at 9:00 pm

Can’t agree with the Justin Lee Collins comment. He’s gorge. How in hell can you compare him to Alan Sugar? I mean 2 plus 2 doesn’t make 5.

However overll I do agree with the tone of the article. I think Tanya was pointing out that Susan Doyle’s personna was dipicted as fat arse lard dressed up in gold lame. Ergo she was setting herself up for derision.

Oh how we laughed! Not.

David Abstract // Posted 17 April 2009 at 9:13 pm

Actually this was exactly what I was expected – middle aged, not classically good-looking woman – ITV have obviously selected her because she can sing so that exactly this kind of story will develop, and they will get more viewers… more coverage… more sales…. make more money.

I don’t care who goes on this program, who wins, or even what it says about the culture – I never watch it, I don’t have friends that watch it – I don’t care.

and Les Mis is irredeemably middle-brow.

Penelope // Posted 17 April 2009 at 11:11 pm

Yeah this journo is slightly mean with her views…

But if it’s bringing misogyny as a problem into headlines, then it’s good as far as I’m concerned.

My 1 question is – Do we need to have misogyny hitting us in the face as a nation before we talk about it?

Let’s hope we hear more women speaking up about it. Not ‘I’m a feminist but… ‘ or ‘I love men but… maybe like there’s this teensy little problem with sexism… then again I’m not sure. And maybe we should blame women!’

More women journos need to be upfront about the clear issue with the current wave of misogyny, not trying to please the masses. Or waiting for the masses to be behind them (as in this case with Susan Boyle).

jay // Posted 18 April 2009 at 1:03 am

And no-one is pointing out that the woman isn’t ugly. There is absolutely nothing hideous, porky, grotesque or unattractive about her. No-one is congratulating her on her positive and bolshy attitude towards the obvious condescension from Simon and the audience. She looks like a forty-seven year old woman! That’s all!

I’m glad you mentioned Gordon Ramsay’s face which looks like a dried-up river bed. I’ve been looking for an apt simile for ages.

Lucie // Posted 18 April 2009 at 2:12 am

The saddest thing is that Sky News covered Susan’s rise to fame earlier today… and in an interview with them, she said she was going to have to work on her looks for her next performance. Huh?

What I liked about her was the fact that she seemed to refuse to be subject to that, it’s such a shame.

Lucie // Posted 18 April 2009 at 3:36 am

The saddest thing is that Sky News covered Susan’s rise to fame earlier today… and in an interview with them, she said she was going to have to work on her looks for her next performance. Huh?

What I liked about her was the fact that she seemed to refuse to be subject to that, it’s such a shame.

Vicky // Posted 18 April 2009 at 10:10 am

I totally second Jay! Susan Boyle is in no way ugly or unpleasant to look at – she just looks normal!

I do think however that Susan Boyle does not have a responsibility not to change her appearance for the next performance. That’s her prerogative. In feminist circles there is often double guilt. For example, a feeling of guilt if one does not shave one’s legs as one feels one is not conventionally attractive, and a sense of guilt if one does as one is not taking a feminist stand. This is a personal choice and women, in my eyes, may pick and choose their battles without being seen as less courageous if they follow the status quo on some isssues.

Kez // Posted 18 April 2009 at 10:15 am

I agree, Jay – to see some of the coverage (including, unfortunately, Tanya Gold’s article) you would expect Susan Boyle to be some kind of monstrosity. What I saw on YouTube was an average looking middle aged woman who appears to have no great interest in her own looks. There are plenty of people like that, though admittedly you rarely see them on TV.

Anyway, obviously I understand Gold’s point that women are judged more harshly on their appearance than are men. Clearly, this is true, and a point that has been made many times before. I’m not sure that seeking to redress the balance by making derogatory comments about the appearance of individual male celebrities is especially helpful, though. I do agree that the female counterparts to these men are few and far between, although I can think of a few examples – 55-year-old Carol Thatcher, before her recent fall from grace, was an apparently popular figure who was often on TV. Even the late Jade Goody, now approaching sainthood in parts of the media, was hardly someone who most people would describe as beautiful. In music, Alison Moyet had a successful career without adhering to pin-up standards, and there are also younger singers such as Adele who don’t exactly fit the mould, though I do realise that these women’s appearance is deemed worthy of comment in a way that men’s perhaps isn’t. At the same time, men are also increasingly subject to media pressures concerning their appearance – a young actor or singer who gains weight can fully expect to be ridiculed in the press.

Anne Onne // Posted 18 April 2009 at 11:51 am

I agree with whoever said that If I were the judges, and I was that prejudiced, I’d keep it to myself. None of this exaggerated ‘you were SUCH a surprise!’ lark.

Because what that’s really saying ‘I thought you can’t sing because I personally don’t want to fuck you. And obviously, as a judge of a ‘talent’ show, I’m all about people’s fuckability. But boy, you surprised me. I mean, I only think hot skinny blonde chicks with lots of make-up can sing!’. Not an opinion to be proud of, judges!

And none of this ‘but that’s the way the world works!’ There are plenty of talented female singers out there independently and those who are less well known, whose looks vary from the norm. They can all sing. It’s sad to think they may not get the recognition they deserve because some people don’t think they’re ‘hot’ enough.

Susan Boyle just looks like an average woman. Just as attractiveness is (or should be) in the eye of the beholder, so is lack thereof. It’s quite annoying that everyone, regardless of age, is expected to fit a ridiculous standard for looks, and everyone who doesn’t lay on lots of make up, isn’t super thin and super young or cosmetically enhanced is considered ‘ugly’. Well, ‘ugly’ pretty much seems to mean ‘average’. Funnily enough, not everyone can be a stunner. Many of us just don’t have ‘what it takes’. Many of us have better things to do than worry about whether we look like supermodels. Many of us don’t have the time, or the money, or maybe the inclination to bother with all that.

The point is it isn’t necessary to make a huge effort with your appearance for many people. And that there’s nothing wrong with that. But this goes against the pressures women face constantly: that they must care about this all. And of course the fact people don’t mind bluntly reminding us whenever we fall short of the standard. The more so, the harder.

I was so glad to see her do well and astound them all. This is why I sometimes watch these kinds of programmes: to see someone different from what the judges and audience expect teach them that talent can come from anywhere, in any form. She’s done great and I hope she gets her dream. She should be on the stage if she wants to…

James V. O'Connor // Posted 18 April 2009 at 5:10 pm

Surprise surprise! “Britain’s Got Talent” judge Amanda Holden doesn’t want Susan Boyle to undergo a makeover. She wants to maintain the mystique, which will certainly be lost, but I think most people in our beauty-centric culture want this woman to be reconstructed as part of her success story.

Other bloggers have beefed about the fact that so many people were shocked to hear such an unattractive woman sing so well. I think it was her age, more so than her looks, that surprised people. Where has this talented woman been? Imagine if she were an equally frumpy 22-year-old woman. Would the global response been the same? Not even close

Rob // Posted 18 April 2009 at 7:22 pm

I don’t understand this new sentiment that “we think ugly people can’t sing”. Barbara Streisand and Celine Dionne are both notably unattractive. Were Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin head turners?

I think the “surprise factor” with Susan Boyle was the fact that she was

1. Old

Whitney Houston is about the same age and has had to hang it up, and many others if they are still singing at that age have declined noticably. Susan Boyle standing on that stage at 20 wouldn’t have been a surprise.

2. Her nontypical life was noticable in her personality, and she was acting a bit goofy (came out walking with hand on hip and gave big shake of hips later) ,much of which had to do with Cowell’s patronizing attitude and questions designed to humiliate the performers – “What’s your name darling.”

The audience, which looked to be at least 70% female, was for the most part, not against her. She got a rise (not laughter or boos as keeps being reported) out of them when she came out walking with her hand on her hip, but anyone would have gotten that had they walked that way. There was some laughter when she had a long pause to think of the world “villages”. There were one or two guys who gave deprecating wolf whistles and people laughed when there was a long pause as she struggled to think of the world “villages”. But they cheered her when she said “and that’s just one side of me” and they cheered when she announced her song selection.

You can see how myths are born when you look at the way this is being written up, and much of it is from the comments of Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden could have been at least partly scripted.

Anne Onne // Posted 18 April 2009 at 8:07 pm

Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand are unattractive? They might not have button noses, but they are (and were especially in their youth) still slim, glossily made up white women who fitted the beauty standards of the time. Even they didn’t have it easy, no doubt, but this is more complex than ‘plain’ versus ‘stunning’, with fat hate, ageism and a host of other things playing into it.

But I think you are on to something. The media has got ever more focused on looks and improving them, giving more and more pressure to celebrities, expecially female ones, to look ‘good’. We’re under a lot more pressure to look good than we used to be, and we’re reminded much more readily when celebrities or normal women transgress the rules of appearance much more than we used to.

And let’s not forget that by today’s standards, Marylin Monroe, that paragon of feminine attractiveness touted by the media, would by today’s standards be considered fat and ugly. It’s ironic that the same people who hold her up as beautiful will then write about some celebrity woman that size as fat and ugly. Just goes to show one can’t beat the standards. They’re ever changing.

I Dreamed a Dream // Posted 18 April 2009 at 8:39 pm

Just so awesome… gives me shivers….

The way she just looks – and then started to sing and EVERYBODY was SO surprised.

Rob // Posted 18 April 2009 at 9:02 pm

Well I guess we have to disagree regarding Barbara and Celine’s attractiveness. Even with a button nose, I can’t see them meeting any beauty standard no matter what they do with their weight or makeup. Their success to me is a result of having voices that are considered the best of the best and which more than made up for their lack of attractiveness.

Regarding weight and singing, it would seem that opera singers get a pass in that regard. Hence the well-worn phrases (at least in America) to signify there’s still hope or little hope left in a situation – “The opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings and she hasn’t sung yet”. Or “The fat lady is warming up”.

LaraCroft // Posted 18 April 2009 at 10:42 pm

You know, all of Rob’s comments annoy me. On a feminist site if something annoys you which you can’t put your finger on, there’s usually good reason to delete it. Rob is intentionally anti- feminist. Every view is belittling some woman (Jo Brand, a shite comedian; Celine an ugly cow; other ageist comments). He thinks he’s being big and clever if his posts get through and he manages to upset the peace with baseless opinions.

polly styrene // Posted 18 April 2009 at 10:54 pm

I’m irrestistibly reminded of Peter Kay’s recent talent show send up here “Your story’s just not sad enough”.

Susan Boyle has to be made out to be a hideous loser who’s spend her entire life at home with just her cat for company so that her eventual transformation is even more amazing. She’s just an ordinary looking woman with a pretty amazing voice, who according to today’s Guardian has in the past had drama training and performed at the Edinburgh fringe. Admittedly she’s not groomed to the standards of TV, but that can only be a matter of time.

Rob // Posted 18 April 2009 at 11:22 pm

Well I apologize if my comments were offensive. There must be two Robs as I have never commented about Jo Brand. This is the only discussion I’ve joined here which I found via a search on “Susan Boyle”.

One final thing I would like to add regarding that performance and our surprise. I said that if she was 20 it wouldn’t have been a surprise but that’s wrong. I think it would have been less of a surprise, but that type of performance from an amateur is unexpected no matter who gives it. It was not just very very good, it was Julie Andrews good.

BareNakedLady // Posted 18 April 2009 at 11:27 pm

I can’t read Tanya Gold’s writing on feminist issues any more without recalling her beauty pageant article from a few weeks ago, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/30/beauty-pageant-women.

I would keep quiet on the grounds that it’s not strictly relevant, except that her writing in that article is so foul that to me she’s undermined her credibility on gender issues forever. Especially when you contrast it with her far too eloquent Daily Mail articles on fancying “real” men with hairy chests.

Lynne Miles // Posted 19 April 2009 at 1:02 am

She’s odd, I think. She seems to make good points surrounded by sometimes quite spiteful analogies. I can’t quite make her out. On balance I tend to find myself agreeing with what she says but not how she says it, and wondering if how she says it undermines the points entirely …

Ruth // Posted 19 April 2009 at 9:55 am

Laracroft: so any comments that annoy *you* in an unspecified and indefinable way deserve to be deleted ? Hmm. Not seeing what’s feminist about that, myself. Nor about unsubstantiated personal comments about posters’ supposed motives.

Disclaimer: other people named Ruth exist and post here. I am not aka Rob,nor do I know him.

Kez // Posted 19 April 2009 at 12:24 pm

One of the comments on that Susan Boyle article described Gold as something like a “wannabe Julie Burchill” (I forget the exact phrase). There may be something in that… I definitely think she wants to court controversy.

alison // Posted 19 April 2009 at 1:29 pm

Gold’s article described Susan in incredibly bitchy and unnecessary terms and shot her own article’s trenchant argument down in flames. Ludicrous. But then it’s the left leaning Guardian. Of course I don’t expect this comment to be published since feminism apparently belongs to the left.

Lynne Miles // Posted 19 April 2009 at 4:56 pm

No need to be snarky Alison I’m happy to publish your comment …

I don’t know that feminism ‘belongs’ to the left although there’s an obvious correlation in real life. FWIW I feel like it belongs to the left socially. I don’t think there’s necessarily a reason it has to economically, although socialist fems would disagree with me.

Laracroft // Posted 20 April 2009 at 11:51 am

A troll doesn’t have to scream he’s a troll to upset a feminist friendly space.

Excuse me for putting 2 + 2 together… 2 Robs in 2 days making trollish anti- woman comments.

Not that I actually care… (so don’t reply)

Dorian // Posted 20 April 2009 at 2:45 pm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-palumbo/what-if-susan-boyle-could_b_187804.html

This article is also interesting. It raises another side of the issue, and while it’s not specifically on the same topic as the Gold article, it’s definitely linked in subject matter, and (thankfully) without quite as much bitchy invective. He mentions her ‘frumpy dress’ and ‘unkempt hair’, but that’s about the end of it.

Sam // Posted 20 April 2009 at 3:57 pm

Dorian, that Huffington Post blogger is just sanctimonious. Tanya Gold makes the point far more entertainingly. She is awesome because she’s so derisive – you can actually believe she’s the same person off the page, and so might be worth paying attention to. That HuffPo blogger is either a hypocrite or boring, so there’s no reason to care what they think.

Madeleine // Posted 20 April 2009 at 5:10 pm

The person who commented on Jo Brand was called “Rob M”. So I don’t think that’s the same Rob as this one, unless he’s being startlingly unoriginal.

rita // Posted 21 April 2009 at 12:59 am

What bothers me about these reality shows is that they keep going on about wanting something or someone different. Errr not. Different, unique enough to cash in more like it. Now susan Boyle cannot get a make over? Huh.. Right. They’ll expect her to deliver the same emotional, moment capturing performance week after week? And if she doesn’t, then they might start commenting on her wardrobe again, or hair. It’s what the judges want at the end of it all. Ah

Rubra // Posted 21 April 2009 at 3:23 am

Wow, if Celine Dion is unattractive then I and most other women in the world are heinous, butt-faced dogs. Talk about fascist beauty standards.

Rakkel // Posted 21 April 2009 at 11:03 pm

Whats with all the Tanya Gold hate? I’m just grateful she’s around and we don’t have YET ANOTHER boring old white male columnist in the g2. She’s entertaining, she’s intelligent, and I dunno if any of you have noticed her byline pictures, but she’s not exactly conventionally attractive herself. And she didn’t describe Boyle in “foul” terms. The woman IS chubby, with a squashed face and unkempt hair.In this context, those terms are purely descriptive. Fact is, some people are just fugly. They are. It would just be nice if a fugly girl could get the same consideration for her other talents as a fugly boy, which I think is Gold’s point. The fact that she does so “spitefully” (you think she’s spiteful? where the fuck did you grow up?) is for entertainment value. Journalists of her type are essentially entertainers, and she’s damn entertaining. God forbid a woman says anything less than sweet about anyone – what a bitch! Charlie Brooker is worshipped (not exaggerating) for using much crueller invective than she does (and then writes columns wondering why everyone thinks he’s a misanthrope..)

Kez // Posted 22 April 2009 at 8:26 am

Rakkel… Gold likened Boyle to “a piece of pork sitting on a doily”. Possibly marginally more creative than calling her a pig in a dress, but no less cruel. How would you like to see yourself described in those terms in a national newspaper? That’s not “purely descriptive”, it’s plain nasty, and presumably done for a cheap laugh, as I can’t think of any other reason.

I don’t see how Gold’s appearance (yes, I know what she looks like) has any bearing on my opinion of what she writes. (Unlike the judges of Britain’s Got Talent, apparently, I do try not to base my opinion of someone’s work on how conventionally attractive, or otherwise, they may be deemed to be.) Neither does the fact that she’s a woman. If a male columnist – Charlie Brooker or anyone else – had referred to Boyle in the same terms, I doubt the commenters here would find it somehow more acceptable.

And FWIW, from my observations the Guardian (and G2) have plenty of female columnists.

Lara // Posted 22 April 2009 at 12:31 pm

“And why the needlessly harsh comments about male celebrities appearances? How is making nasty, childish remarks about other people helping anyone?”

Must admit I snorted with laughter at the Alan Sugar description… bag of flour he he

JenniferRuth // Posted 22 April 2009 at 1:10 pm

@Rakkel

I disagree, no-one is hating on Tanya Gold, but she doesn’t get a free pass for saying stuff that people find offensive just because she isn’t a “old white male columnist” – the point is that it is very silly to write an article on how we shouldn’t judge people by their looks but pepper the entire article with insults towards the appearance of Susan Boyle,judges, other random celebrities, etc.

Secondly, YOU may think that Susan Boyle is “fugly” but I don’t see it. She looks ordinary. She looks like anyone you might see out on the street anywhere, anytime. The difference is that we saw her on television were most other woman are plucked, blow dried and made-up to look like some sexually under-developed producers wet dream. So yeah, the difference is startling I suppose, but really – how ugly is Susan? You might not look twice at her, but you would hardly run in fright.

The point is, that now *I’m* discussing Susan’s appearance and god, it’s so fucking irrelevant, but we let ourselves be dragged into these conversations again and again. And part of me is fine – if you want to praise or slag off someones appearance, do it, but don’t put it in an article where you are trying to make the point that we shouldn’t judge on appearances. If you do that then people are going to call your article stupid. I’m sure Tanya can take it.

As for Charlie Brooker, he pretty much admits to hating everyone anyway – but he usually has a good reason. I like him anyway (even if I can’t understand his glass is half empty attitude) because he makes many feminist statements. Don’t believe me? Download and watch Screenburn from BBC4.

BareNakedLady // Posted 22 April 2009 at 2:13 pm

Rakkel – Gold is extremely spiteful. The fact that she’s not old, white, or male and has pretensions to being funny does not excuse her writing. And she writes for the Guardian on how terrible it is that we judge women on their looks, having written columns for the Daily Mail that judge men on their looks. She uses metaphors modelled on the Brooker style which try to be comically disgusting but end up as just disgusting.

If her writing was better (and she wasn’t being so two-faced), Tanya would probably come off as making incisive points about her issues. As it is, Cate summed up the problem at the start:

“I had to go back and reread the bit where she describes Boyle as ‘small and rather chubby, with a squashed face, unruly teeth and unkempt hair’ this morning to work out whether she was supporting the singer or criticising her.”

Good writing is the difference in being harsh on the surface in order to be comic and/or make a deeper point about an issue, or just being harsh and therefore seeming like that was the only purpose.

Kate // Posted 23 April 2009 at 10:33 am

In my opinion, Gold and Brooker are two totally different kettles of fish. I think Charlie just gets better and better (my boyfriend and I both love him and fight over copies of his books and watch Screenburn religiously). He is a brilliant commentator on modern mores and the ludicrously shallow and crass celebrity culture in which we live. He does indeed have feminist sympathies, as JenniferRuth point out. (I think I have a bit of a crush, to be honest).

Gold *wishes* she was on that level- she has a cheap, nasty, lazy style of writing and that comment about the sweet-looking (don’t mean to sound patronising) Susan Boyle looking like pork on a doily was hateful.

Janice // Posted 26 April 2009 at 12:11 am

I agreed with the overall point of Gold’s article but the language she used in relation to Susan Boyle was unforgivable.

Personally I don’t rate Gol,d as a feminist -it’s all about her and she ain’t that sisterly.

Lara // Posted 27 April 2009 at 2:08 pm

I think the thing that was most shocking was how unashamedly ‘she’s not in our opinion hot, YET she can sing’ the reaction of the judges, the audience and the presenters was. It was just accepted as the general opinion.

Tanya Gold’s article was pretty ridiculous. She derides Susan Boyle for not being what she considers pretty in the nastiest, most pointless way and then attacks men doing exactly as she has as ‘misogyny’.

Shalada // Posted 21 June 2009 at 12:04 pm

I have followed the Susan Boyle situation with interest and have read the blogging sites to see the range ofviews around. First, although, I am not a fan of this singer, I have to say that some of the personal attacks directed at Susan Boyle (not necessarily on this site) that I have read are not only plain nasty, but also frankly

bizarre. Where does all the hatred and outrage come from? Second, there seems to have been a lot made about her supposed ‘learning difficulties’ and many people have ignorantly jumped on this band wagon (including media psychologists who really should know better) without a moment’s thought as to whether these are actually present and actually account for aspects of her behaviour or not. Where is the evidence for ‘learning difficulties’ and where is the assessment and diagnosis? There isn’t any is the simple answer. The term ‘learning difficulties’ usually describes something specific (e.g. reading difficulty, dyslexia) in the face of average intellectual level. A person would have to have an assessment to ‘diagnose’ this and Ms. Boyle does not appear to have had this. Therefore, it cannot be said that she has a learning difficulty. The term ‘learning disability’ describes something which is more complex and impacts people in different ways. However, again, a formal assessment would have to occur in order for this to be used with any accuracy. There is no evidence that this has happened in Ms Boyle’s case. Therefore, it also cannot be said that she has a ‘learning disability’. The reason why she appeared to ‘lose it’ a couple of times is possibly due to the fact that she is human and was finding the constant media attention and criticism a somewhat stressful. I think that people cannot predict how they will behave until they have experienced something similar themselves. Third, I am really concerned about these discussions concerning whether or not Ms. Boyle should have been ‘allowed’ to continue in Britain’s Got Talent given her (supposed) ‘learning difficulties/disability’. Ms. Boyle aside, to automatically assume without any type of evaluation that a person should not continue with something (e.g. a hobby, counselling) on the basis of ‘learning difficulties/disability’ is not only discriminatory but againsts a person’s right to choose. Such a situation would have to be informed amongst by the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which states that if a person with a learning disablity is capable of giving their inforned consent to something then this takes precedence. If Susan was capable of giving her informed consent – and I believe she was/is – then of course she should be allowed to continue with the show because she was legally capable of making that decision herself. Perhaps what she – and other participants – didn’t have is access to is adequate levels of support/information from the production team etc. It has to be remembered that the BGT’s contestants are just members of the public like you and I and may not have had the experience of having been in the public eye to draw from. I wonder if anyone in the BGT team knew what to expect from all this and if not why not?

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