F****** Sexism

// 11 June 2009

I was on Five Live on Tuesday night as Richard Bacon’s “presenter’s friend” which is a really fun job where you get to chat about all the subjects that come up. We interviewed Pete Waterman and met an amazing duo called Nathan Flutebox Lee and Beardyman (whose act you may have seen on YouTube and is really quite amazing). In between the subject of Gordon Ramsay was up for discussion.

In case you have missed the story in question Ramsay is over in Australia at the moment promoting a new restaurant and took the time to appear on a TV chat show hosted by Tracy Grimshaw. While on air he said a few rather rude things to her about her appearance, making fun of a mole on her lip. She took it as a joke and laughed it off. Then at his live show he held up a really horrible picture of a woman on all fours with six breasts and a pig’s head and said “This is Tracy Grimshaw”. Some sources claim he also suggested she was a lesbian (cos that’s an insult right?).

And brilliantly something happened. Grimshaw herself responded to the situation saying she had been very upset by it. She also said – and I love this quote – “Obviously Gordon thinks that any woman who doesn’t find him attractive must be gay. For the record, I don’t. And I’m not.”. The Women’s Forum Australia made a statement saying “Why should he get paid for depicting a woman as an animal and publicly deriding her looks? He shouldn’t make money through the verbal abuse of women.” and even the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd joined in saying Ramsay was “a new form of low life”. After initially dismissing it as a joke Ramsay has now been forced to make a very public apology.

Well you know me readers – the last thing I would want to be considered is smug but I do think us feminists can smell a misogynist coming at 200 yards and I’ve known from day one that Ramsay has a bad attitude towards women. Firstly I remember in one of his early TV shows he had a special section in which he campaigned to “Get women back in the kitchen”. The concept behind it was of course a perfectly reasonable one – to encourage people to make more home-cooked food – but he had to make it about women and about reviving antiquated Victorian ideals that have destroyed women’s lives for centuries.

Secondly remember when he had three-year-olds going round in badges that said “I’m a vegetarian tart”? I even blogged about it.

So lashing of “Well Done Australia” served up with a sprinkling of “I Told You So”.

Comments From You

Catherine Redfern // Posted 11 June 2009 at 7:13 pm

Not to mention his blatant ripping-off of this website’s name for his TV show! We were here first, Gordon. :)

Feminist Avatar // Posted 11 June 2009 at 8:35 pm

My pet Ramsay peeve is that he frequently refers to the female contestants in hell’s kitchen as ‘stupid cows’- aargh.

polly styrene // Posted 11 June 2009 at 9:16 pm

If you watch this on You Tube, Ramsay is also incredibly misgoynist about Susan Boyle saying that an Australian is going to be paid a million dollars for ‘taking her cherry’ but it should be five million.

What a charmer.

Sabre // Posted 11 June 2009 at 9:50 pm

Always thought Ramsay was a moron, falling in with the likes of Jeremy Clarkson in the ‘but they’re not offensive they’re just having a laugh!’ category. Good for Australia! Shame it would never happen over here.

Lindsey // Posted 12 June 2009 at 10:19 am

That’s really awesome!

Having seen some of his shows I also found it quite sad that he only seemed to take out his son for exciting trips, ignoring his three daughters. Not to suggest he doesn’t care for his daughters, just that it’s sad that certain activities – the kind worth putting on tv – are just for boys.

Aimee // Posted 12 June 2009 at 12:09 pm

He’s a horrible man. His ‘get women back in the kitchen’ thing was SO offensive. It was never ‘get men back in the kitchen’ or ‘address the social inequalities that mean families can rarely afford nor have time to cook healthy meals for their families’… oh no, according to King Gordon, the onus is all one the womenz.

Anne Onne // Posted 12 June 2009 at 2:27 pm

He gets invited to publicise himself, has an interviewer who respectfully interviews him, then ridicules her by comparing her to a pig whilst using a sexualised image? He deserves the flack the Australians are going to give him for this. He did that to humiliate someone who had been perfectly civil to him. It is NOT a joke, it is clearly hostile. I hope he has to take responsibility for his nastiness to the full. I’m sick of male TV personalities getting a free pass to do what they want and say what they want without dealing with the fall out. Free speech does not amount to ‘I insult, degrade and humiliate everyone and everyone shuts up and likes it’.

Also, if he thinks women belong in the kitchen, might I suggest he get out of it, then?

He’s using the knowledge of countless women (and men) over the years to be a chef, something women, despite being lumbered with most cooking duties through the ages, rarely manage to be allowed to do, and he has the nerve to blame women for everything, and say the answer is in traditional roles?

Besides, doesn’t tradition say chefs should be behind the scenes and keep to themselves? I’m sure traditional chefs would be apalled by his behaviour. I think we’d be all the happier if he never publicly uttered another expletive-laden misogynistic rant.

Rosie // Posted 12 June 2009 at 2:53 pm

This quote is apparantly part of his apology:

“If any of you guys had called my wife a pig and it was in front of me, I’d punch your lights out.”

Well, he NEARLY gets it… Why is it that some men understand why treating women disrespectfully is wrong only when they think of it in terms of being offensive to the men who know or are related to them? Like that ‘don’t shout out to a woman in the street if she has a boyfriend with her’ thing.

Butterflywings // Posted 12 June 2009 at 3:20 pm

Oh yes, Gordon Ramsay.

The words arrogant wanker with a sense of entitlement come to mind.

Didn’t he say some sexist crap about French women being hairy, too?

Oh and he thinks women can’t drive (how original).

Lindsey, I noticed that too. Poor kid, I wonder if he actually wants to go out hunting.

FeistyLyn // Posted 12 June 2009 at 3:47 pm

I never watch Gordon’s shows due to his reputation for swearing all the time. It saddens me that he treats his own daughters like that.

I did wonder if he was a misogynist, now my suspicions are confirmed.

Thank you Australia for not tolerating his

bad behaviour.

Isa // Posted 12 June 2009 at 6:38 pm

I remember seeing Ramsey on The Graham Norton Show when he talked about a an ex girlfriend of his who was French. Apparently she helped him to learn the language and understand French culture. He then went on to slag off her physical appearance in particular her pubic hair, then turned to fellow guest Juliette Binoche and asked her if she waxed. He really turns my stomach and I’ve never understood why he’s regarded as such a good guy. So good on the Australians for telling it like it is!!!

Jo // Posted 12 June 2009 at 6:43 pm

@Sabre

Completely agree! I detest Jeremy Clarkson. But I hate it more that he, Ramsey and Chris Moyles are lauded as national treasures.

Louise // Posted 12 June 2009 at 7:15 pm

Serves him right…. What is he doing foolishly trapping off like that, HIS place’ is in the kitchen !

:)

Charlie // Posted 12 June 2009 at 7:45 pm

I don’t know if this is true or he’s been misquoted or whatever, but here’s a quote of a quote in a Guardian piece:

“Ramsay has always been a straight talker – never more so than when he sent feminists spiralling into apoplexy by announcing that he had not attended the birth of any of his four children because the sight of his wife giving birth might ruin their sex life. “Ugh, childbirth,” he said. “It’s like being in a room with a thousand skinned rabbits.””

Nice! I read that years ago and never forgot it. Article is here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2004/may/28/realitytv.broadcasting

David // Posted 12 June 2009 at 8:09 pm

I agree; it’s an unfair fight, as him insulting a woman about her appearance packs a hefty punch, but if he had been called ugly it would hardly have been considered an insult at all.

Auroch // Posted 12 June 2009 at 10:15 pm

Gordon Ramsay is great, I find his shows really rather entertaining, even if he does come off as hot-headed at times. But well, being the typical Anglo-Saxon male, he likes to get things done, and people admire him for that. And that’s coming from an animal-loving vegetarian. ; )

Jehenna // Posted 13 June 2009 at 5:47 am

Auroch, even those of us who aren’t anglo saxon males like to get things done. But generally we do it without deliberately causing offense to people who are making the effort to treat us in a polite way.

Ramsay needs to be reminded that a good proportion of his fame and wealth has been built on the backs of women.

You could argue that Mrs Beeton and Fannie Farmer popularised cooking for the masses when they published their recipe books. Eliza Acton is credited with writing the first recipes intended for domestic rather than professional use. Without these women paving the way, I am not sure there would have been a market for Gordon Ramsay and his ideas.

And there’s also his wife – giving birth alone, and presumably taking on the majority of the childcare and housework while Gordon galivants around and insults other women.

Maybe that’s the root of it – that the man just can’t deal with women on an equal level without reducing them to pubic hair, physical image, and trying to mock them.

The Australian PM wasn’t overly impressed with Gordon either. I think he’s going to find himself more and more unwelcome here.

(I am Australian really, and I have been pretending to be English on the basis of dual citizenship and 4 years lived in London – please don’t kick me out! :) )

polly styrene // Posted 13 June 2009 at 8:26 am

“But well, being the typical Anglo-Saxon male, he likes to get things done, and people admire him for that.”

Que? Is Ramsay’s behaviour justified because he’s a white blonde man then? Would it not be justified if he was asian, say? I didn’t know ‘typical anglo saxon males’ had a particular reputation for being loathsome misogynists, or an automatic excuse because they’re just so damn motivated.

Madeleine // Posted 13 June 2009 at 2:35 pm

Not just male tv “personalities” (if only), but last night on Have I Got News For You, the token female guest made very sexist fun of Caroline Flint. And when the horrible insulting picture of the Australian interviewer that the lovely Gordon had flashed on the screen during his cookery demo was shown, she laughed, ‘oooh, she’s not fat!’

Okay, she’s under no obligation to push a feminist agenda. But still. I hate it when women try to be more blokey than the blokes. And it never works.

Auroch // Posted 13 June 2009 at 4:03 pm

Jehenna, I honestly don’t care much for whoever Ramsay has to thank for his rise to fame. My point was, he ought to be admired for his benevolent ‘take charge’ attitude rather than be endlessly slammed for how he decides to live his personal life. I’ve watched his shows, and he’s accomplished much, and despite the demonisation process he’s been put through, the man still comes out overall as a national hero in my view.

If a man feels revulsion at the sight of a woman giving birth, that’s just his natural reaction and something that can’t be helped, and it’s certainly no excuse for feminists to use to jump on and drag a man into the ground.

[edited by Kate to remove offensive remark]

El // Posted 13 June 2009 at 4:45 pm

@Jehenna: I get the point you’re making, and please don’t mistake me for defending Gordan Ramsay, cos I hate that bloke too!

But, unless you *know* that these things are true, I’ve got some issues with what you said here:

“And there’s also his wife – giving birth alone, and presumably taking on the majority of the childcare and housework…”,

First – is it not sexist to presume that his wife, who btw is called Tana Ramsay according to teh internetz, does most of the childcare and housework? I think it’s statistically probable; but then, Tana Ramsay has her own cookery book out, and maybe she also has another job. And, being married to a fairly well-known (and therefore fairly well-off) celeb, they might have hired domestic help and a nanny.

Secondly, as far as the fact that her husband was not present at the birth of their kids goes, that doesn’t mean that she was *alone*. I mean, she could have had a friend, a sister, her mum (etc) there with her. And on top of this, perhaps she didn’t want him to be there either? She might have agreed with him about its effect on their sex life, or she might have wanted him there. But since we don’t actually know we can’t just assume that he did it against her wishes. Because, apart from anything else, to do so is to assume that she isn’t his equal – and to be married to someone that aggressive, you’d hope that she does give as good as she gets.

But I TOTALLY agree with you re: his success, like that of all celebrity chefs, being totally dependent on the previous work of women. Which is what makes his misogynist “women back in the kitchen” campaign so much worse, if that’s possible.

Feminist Avatar // Posted 13 June 2009 at 4:55 pm

Gordon Ramsay is Scottish, so he might not be anglo-saxon at all. His hair-colouring and skin tone suggest that he is of Norsk extraction. But, I don’t believe that ethnicity is generally an excuse for being an arsehole.

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 13 June 2009 at 5:17 pm

El – I have certainly read interviews with Tana Ramsay in which she says she does all the cooking and most of the housework at home. It was presented as a “hilarious” TV-chef-lets-wife-cook observation but it struck me as a bad sign. He also talks a lot about how he works super-long hours, so I think we can safely assume he doesn’t spend much time with his kids.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 13 June 2009 at 5:47 pm

well, im reeaaally not making the comparison here, i know its turned into an overused cliche, but i mean, we could all admire Hitler’s take charge attitude and rise to fame if we ignored the people he murdered hurt on the way, or many many other people he disrespected, and hated for who they are.

El // Posted 13 June 2009 at 5:49 pm

Thanks for clearing that up Kate – I guessed that someone would be able to point to some facts.

I agree that a “hilarious” TV-chef-lets-wife-cook observation isn’t much of a joke when combined with what else we know about Mr Ramsay.

Oh well, so much for being optimistic!

Aimee // Posted 13 June 2009 at 6:04 pm

I don’t think he’s being derided for his ‘personal life’. He’s being criticised for his offensive attitudes towards women and his perpetuation of the idea that it’s alright to reduce women to the sum of their bodily parts and their bodily part’s appeal to men.

I’m sure he’s got some admirable qualities, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to ignore his bad qualities and his inappropriate and damaging behaiviour.

If a man feels revulsion at the sight of childbirth, maybe he should either grow up, or keep his willy in his trousers, eh?

Jehenna // Posted 13 June 2009 at 6:15 pm

El – point taken, but it seems that stereotypes win the day. Thanks for pointing out that I was operating on assumption though :)

Auroch – I think the point that’s being made here is that there isn’t that much benevolence being had. He’s behaving like an arrogant misogynist.

I can understand admiring him for his cooking skills, but I’m at the stage where it doesn’t matter to me how skilled someone is, if they can’t behave decently to other people while doing it.

He’s not being slammed for how he lives his personal life, but for his decision to humiliate a woman who interviewed him – first trying to do so in the interview, and afterwards to another group of people. That’s what the criticism is about. Not his personal life, but the way he chooses to conduct himself professionally.

I appreciate I went off on a tangent, but I really hate the way some people make progress due to those who paved the way for them, while deriding those people.

JenniferRuth // Posted 15 June 2009 at 9:33 am

“Ugh, childbirth,” he said. “It’s like being in a room with a thousand skinned rabbits.”

I thought a tough chef such as Gordon Ramsey would be perfectly comfortable in such a situation.

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