David Cameron tells Angela Eagle to “calm down, dear”

// 27 April 2011

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David Cameron told Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Angela Eagle to “calm down, dear” during Prime Minister’s Questions:

I suppose it should come as no surprise.

Via Political Scrapbook

Meanwhile, The Telegraph devotes a whole blog post to the question of who the “busty lass” is sitting behind Ed Miliband.



Comments From You

maggie // Posted 27 April 2011 at 4:03 pm

At least Nick Clegg had the decency not to laugh – he’s looking increasingly uncomfortable during PMQs – unlike the puerile response of Osborne.

Jennifer Drew // Posted 27 April 2011 at 6:26 pm

Oh Cameron you’ve slipped up and shown your true misogynist colours. Would Cameron tell a male MP to ‘calm down boy.’ I think not but then male MPS are not female are they?

By the way I didn’t realise Cameron is on such familiar terms with a female MP that he considers it appropriate to address an adult woman as ‘dear.’

Telling women to ‘calm down dear’ is common male benevolent misogyny because the male is claiming women unlike men are irrational creatures. Such language also enforces male pseudo superiority to females. Or to put it another way – Cameron is a misogynist.

Rose // Posted 27 April 2011 at 6:26 pm

I was so angry listening to that today. It was clearly demeaning – personal, gender based insults. (Yes, he has once before used similar wording against a male member of the house, that does not mean that the term is not gender based, or that it is not insulting, but that the male member was offered the added ‘insult’ of not being ‘manly’.)

In the politics show discussion, the question seemed to be ‘Where was the speaker?’ As it is his job to stop such behaviour.

There were a number of ‘write-ins’ concerning camerons behaviour/mentality, which went to show that it did grate with the viewers, and it was not seen as ‘normal’ commons ‘debate’.

He also managed to answer a question about the sexualisation of children by talking the ususal tory trash about ‘premature sexualisation’.

I’ve tried to spell out to my tory MP (Vaisey) that to sexualise another person is NEVER acceptable.

It’s not a question of age, nobody else has the right to sexualise me!

Sorry, little off topic, but it was gender bases abuse, Cameron, and on PMQ’s today!

Caitlin Beth // Posted 27 April 2011 at 8:43 pm

What really got me was the fact he felt it necessary to say it at least three times. As if it wasn’t patronising enough for her to hear it once!

Horry // Posted 27 April 2011 at 11:00 pm

Careful – I’ve been looking at online responses to this comment and have discovered that any objection to it whatsoever, providing it’s raised by a woman, will only demonstrate the validity of Cameron’s insinuation about how hysterical and overemotional we are. So in order to prove we can handle debate and take it like a man, the best thing we women can do is shut up and let the men do all the talking. Or something …

Lucy // Posted 28 April 2011 at 8:58 am

I don’t find this comment particularly bad, It seems to be just Cameron’s attempt at a joke/humour. I’m all up for equal rights but I think we may be reading a little too much into this. It is all part of this “if we want to find something remotely rascist/sexist/etc in anything we will”. I genuinely don’t think by saying that Cameron was being sexist or even meant to be, I say it all the time, a few of my male friends say it all the time, but it is more a parody of the advert than an insult or a put down.

Kez // Posted 28 April 2011 at 9:50 am

I listened to a bit of Kate Smurthwaite and the appalling Jon Gaunt “discussing” this on Nicky Campbell’s Radio 5 programme earlier. Use of inverted commas because Jon Gaunt’s idea of debate is to laugh derisively at other people’s points, insult them randomly and make “jokes” which only he thinks are funny about getting back into the kitchen. Don’t listen to it unless you enjoy feeling enraged.

masculinist // Posted 28 April 2011 at 1:33 pm

Just watched the video clip. No. What he said was not sexist. Silly , but not sexist. If he had said ‘ shutup you silly old cow’ , then yes , sexist and totally out of order, but this ….no ….he was trying to make a point , but getting heckled from the opposition. How does a comedian on stage put down a heckler ??? I guess he picked on Angela Eagle because he heard her voice first and more loudly than other voices …..

Would we have such a frenzy if Harriet Harmann said such a thing to a male MP ? I very much doubt it.

He hopefully will apoligise to her and then move on. There are more important things to worry about around the world.

Holly // Posted 29 April 2011 at 12:33 pm

David Cameron oozes affluent white male privilege from every pore. I like to think people can change, but whenever I see him, I can’t help but think, “Lost cause.” The patriarchy—along with other oppressive systems operating in society today—has worked beautifully for him. He has no incentive to question it or himself, much less try to change either one. Hence he thinks, “Calm down, dear,” is a perfectly appropriate thing to say to a female colleague and will never understand why it isn’t, no matter how good the explanation is.

Sarah AB // Posted 30 April 2011 at 4:10 pm

I’d say it was sexist, but borderline. But in a sense that makes it no better – if you just teeter on the edge of sexism you know you are more likely to get away with it, yet still upset people. If he had said ‘you silly cow’ there would have been no real argument – that would more clearly have been out of order. Between friends, or partners, you can get away with this, and worse, because you will both have a secure sense of context/intent. But you simply have to be much more cautious in a public context – unless you don’t care whether you offend people.

peace // Posted 30 April 2011 at 6:09 pm

i would have to agree with masculinist, in fact i am surprised anyone thought it was. i don’t like him that much but i think it is unfair to automatically assume he was being sexist. I don’t want to magnify every little thing he says and call him whatever comes to mind because it’s unfair.

James // Posted 3 May 2011 at 2:41 am

The article and most of the comments on this page just belittle the bigger cause.

“Would Cameron tell a male MP to ‘calm down boy.’ I think not but then male MPS are not female are they?” – a stupid thing to say. He used exactly the same comment with David Miliband in 2007. It was equally patronising when he said it to a man several years ago as when he said it last week.

It is still, of course, a bullying term to use.

I am all for gender equality, but this article is just the kind of mindless, meaningless rant that lacks substance and almost entices sexism. You’re looking for something that isn’t there; claiming to be fighting for gender neutrality, but constantly creating unnecessary divide.

Best wishes


sianushka // Posted 3 May 2011 at 1:28 pm

Masculinist, thanks for telling us what we can and cannot find sexist.

much appreciated.


Jess McCabe // Posted 3 May 2011 at 2:01 pm

@James Wow, you have a really low threshold for what counts as a “rant”. This post is about 50 words long, largely a factual report of what happened. Personally I need at least 300-400 words to get a proper rant on.

Champagne Charlie // Posted 3 May 2011 at 3:08 pm

“I am all for gender equality, BUT”…don’t you just love sentences that start like that?!

Feminist Avatar // Posted 3 May 2011 at 4:28 pm

To me this statement was sexist, because it drew on the stereotype of women as hysterical/agitated and needing to be contained. The whole premise of the ‘joke’ behind the statement is the idea of women as more emotionally volatile and that there opinions are therefore less important. That is what makes it sexist.

It would have been sexist whether said to a man or a woman.

Holly Combe // Posted 3 May 2011 at 6:58 pm

The whole premise of the ‘joke’ behind the statement is the idea of women as more emotionally volatile…

Exactly. I expect Cameron was playing on precisely this premise when he made the comment to Miliband (i.e. undermining him through apparent “feminisation”). I thought it seemed like a rather sorry attempt to subdue an opponent on both occasions but directing such an instantly recognisable and commonly sexist phrase to a woman showed just out of touch he is with voters who don’t share his privileges.

Actually, if anyone’s interested, I ended up putting some time into hunting down the original transcript of the much-referenced discussion in 2007, in preparation for a short piece I wrote for the Oxford Mail about this. (I don’t think the article will be appearing online but will post a link or blog entry if it does.) The BBC didn’t link to any evidence in the article I consulted so I ended up having to ring someone in political research at their Milbank library to get the exact date for a search on Hansard!

Holly Combe // Posted 3 May 2011 at 7:07 pm

Well said, Jess, by the way! As Horry says, I don’t think it really matters what we say about this one. The fact feminists have commented at all will count as an automatic furious over-reaction in some people’s minds. Not only that but it will probably attract yet more banal comments about heat in kitchens, despite the fact that Angela Eagle has remained pretty cool throughout the whole thing.

sianushka // Posted 4 May 2011 at 9:09 am

Champagne Charlie – exactly

‘i’m all for gender equality, but only in the terms that i agree with’

is the way that sentence is really finished.

The historical context of women being hysterical, irrational and unable to cope with ‘rational’ debate because they are ’emotional’ is vital to this discussion.

Even calling this post a ‘rant’ is making a point that suggests that women can’t have reasoned debate, they instead rant about inconsequential things.

I am so sick of casual sexism.

sianushka // Posted 4 May 2011 at 11:20 am

Sorry to ‘link troll’ !! but this is what i wrote about the row on the fresh outlook/my blog


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