Thursday, 12 August 2010

Not Cricket.

I just re-read Fever Pitch. Two thoughts: first, holy crap 1992 was actually a really long time ago now; second, I know something else these days that engenders almost identical tribal devotion. Yes, some of my friends in the Liberal Democrats have a kind of dogged loyalty to the party that makes the way Nick Hornby feels about Arsenal look positively capricious. And with this political version of club pride comes the equivalent type of gut loathing for the adversary. Every election is a derby match between your guys and all your old enemies... and this is where sound political thinkers lose the plot.

The name calling (of which Thom Oliver wrote a brilliant summary this week) from the soi-disant 'progressive left' is just par for the course, and most of the time you just laugh it off. Easy to laugh to be honest, when this breast-beating and baying is going on and the point of the Liberal Democrats has been missed entirely. What is a shame though, is when this we-hate-the-others mentality gets in the way of giving praise where it's due, on the issues that matter.

It seems to be too easy to forget sometimes that everyone who gets involved in politics does so initially because they feel that things ought to be fairer. Everyone is in it for what they perceive to be the right reasons and the good of all. I don't believe in the big (brother) state ideal of Labour for example, or the dog-eat-dog self-determination of the tories, but I can see where both and more are coming from and just occasionally I allow myself a beatific smile in the direction of a politician from a different party who gets something very important addressed. Nobody has a monopoly on moral fibre. Whether we view politics from the left, right or centre, we should all be able to agree that some of the things we can see are horrible and need action to change them.

Here's a cast-iron example of something that needs to be changed: we need to stop being confronted everywhere we go with unattainable ideals of female beauty, particularly when those ideals include being drastically underweight. Everyone agreed? Thought so.

So why is Laurie Penny, one of the most fantastic feminist writers of her generation, so angry with Lib Dem Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone? Apparently, in naming Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks as a woman whose body made a refreshing change in the limelight from the constant parade of stick insects:
"Lynne Featherstone MP has given the impression that young women should aspire to look like saucy secretaries with accommodating attitudes to sexual harassment."

Please! Deliberately conflating character with actress just so you have a stick to beat Lynne with? Can't we stop with the hate and the lazy sensationalist Lib-Dems-are-all-swine "journalism" when it comes to something as important as this? So you have an article to write. What would have been so wrong with maybe agreeing with Lynne that Christina Hendricks has a healthy shape and is a more sane physical ideal than Kate Moss for the majority of girls, and going on to say it's a shame that because she's an attractive woman she is cast in a role where in your opinion she seems to be nothing but a sex-object? Or is the New Statesman paying people according to how much bile they can spout at either coalition partner these days? Sad. Some of the left have changed their pitch - they think it's all over. If they're going to start screaming hate at people who are doing good for commonly held causes, it is now.

For balance, if you did read Laurie's piece today, you might be interested to know that on Lynne Featherstone's own blog, she had this to say about the matter a whole eleven days ago:
"In that interview – because I was asked what I thought of Christina Hendricks (the MadMen star) and said I thought she was absolutely fabulous – as was Marilyn Monroe - echoes of that interview have been bouncing around the media ever since. Not surprisingly – I was not advocating that women should aspire to replicate Ms Hendricks’ figure – simply saying that it was nice to see an alternative to ultra thin models."

You can't score points over us there, much as you might have wanted to. I'm sure there's a phrase for football fans who have to watch a team they hate play beautiful games and come out on top, while their own side are in a mire of ugly infighting and recriminations, and going nowhere. Oh aye, that was it - sick as a parrot. Laurie want a cracker?


Katie B said...

Wow you're smart! (no I'm not being sarcastic) Katie B

Carl said...
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