Women, Politics, Tennis and a Strong Whiff of Sexism!

It was rather interesting, if dispiriting, to read the British press and some elements of social media last week. Two news items caught my eye, first the commentary given to female tennis players and the noises they make when playing Wimbledon. Is it just me or is much of that coverage sexist and unsavoury and really not focussing on female tennis players’ skills at all? As in:

“Former Wimbledon champ Michael Stich once said the ladies of Wimbledon are “just there to sell sex,” which is why they should stop grunting.”

That is an extreme example but it’s an undercurrent in many of the comments made about women’s tennis.

Baby Girl Minister?

And two, as in the coverage and comments made when a junior government minister appeared opposite one of the UK’s most ferocious political interviewers. Now I don’t happen to like the style of this interviewer when he is interviewing anyone – even when I disagree vehemently with the political views of his victim (and victim is usually an appropriate description.) I think he hectors, bullies and embodies an extreme macho posturing style which actually makes any kind of debate nigh on impossible as he is permanently at war putting everyone on the defensive. I think some much better results are achieved by the softer style of some of his female colleagues, although they are rarely lauded as loudly or get the big interviews (because typical male characteristics are still more highly rewarded by the BBC? See The BBC Does Irony)

But in fairness, one would have to say that his style is not sexist; he argues with and hectors everyone, regardless of race, gender, class or creed. No, for once it wan’t him that annoyed me (although I do think in any world except media he would fall foul of any company ‘bullying and harassment policy’.)

What annoyed me was the patronising tosh dished out to his victim, constantly referred to as ‘young’ and junior. She’s 30, for goodness sake, not 18, with a treasury post and she knew exactly what was coming (as I said, her nemesis is consistent if nothing else). She was portrayed as a poor helpless female by those critical of government with a sexism that was breathtaking; so many politicians in the public eye trotted out the same ‘poor thing/sacrificial lamb’ line without ever seeming to realise the inherent sexism of their position, even some women!

In reality she made a hash of it and she wasn’t well briefed. That was nothing to do with her ‘tender’ years or the fact that she was a young woman. She made mistakes which she’ll learn from.

It reminded me of one of my favourite quotes from a female Cambridge prof:

We’ll know we’ve got true equality when half of all senior posts are filled by women and half of them are incompetent”

Just like the men, then!

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Posted on July 3rd, 2012 by

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