Wood for the trees…

So, this happened –

 

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Two of the biggest misogynists to hit our screens this decade were voted as winner and runner up in 2014 Celebrity Big Brother.

What’s that you say?

Who cares about Big Brother? It’s just a reality TV game show for people desperate for fame and with no self-respect. It is an exploitative celebration of unjustified vanity, and I shall have no truck with something so tawdry having been made from one of our finest works of fiction!

Well, you could look at it that way, but I suggest you don’t.

Oh I don’t watch TV, let alone Big Brother. It doesn’t fit in with my painfully hip Hoxton lifestyle.

Big Brother has got nothing to do with feminism!! YOU’RE a sex worker, YOU’RE the one bringing down the sisterhood!

Well, I put it to you that you – indeed, we – dropped the ball on this one.

Whilst activists, mansplainers and radical feminists were trying to throw more sex workers under the #questionsforamnesty* bus, mainstream media was proving that mainstream sexism is back. Not the everyday sexism we’re all used to. Not the sexism we know will happen at the garage, in the taxi, at the pub… but mainstream stuff. Where it’s right in everyone’s faces. 

And it seems to have been the target audience of Big Brother that helped it along – women **

How the fuck did that happen?!

Let’s take a look.

Suspect 1 – ‘Dappy’

Performer and producer in the group ‘N-Dubz’ (so called after their Camden Town postcode of NW1. But don’t let this guttural abbreviation fool you. He has a B in English, y’know. Or was in an A+?). His recent hits include –

* Pleading guilty to assault after spitting in a girls face when she and her friend declined his generous offer to get into his car in a petrol forecourt and have sex with him.

*Making death threats..complete with gun.

*Being dropped from a government cyber bullying scheme after he text death threats to a woman who had the audacity to criticise them on a TV call-in.

*Arrested on suspicion of assaulting the mother of his two children.

*Posting a picture of himself naked to ‘sell more albums’ on twitter.

Sadly, it’s fair to say that he still seems to be popular with his own target audience. Again, young females. As well as getting number ones, a sweet deal for Tulisa to be an X-factor judge, a host of MOBO awards, they’ve also been asked to help with charities and government funded schemes.

How is that OK?? How are we holding someone with a record against him of violence against women on such a high pedestal?

But it’s just someone from a mainstream hip hop band…on a mainstream reality TV show.. we don’t care about that when we’re having REAL discussions over feminist politics with our friends from the warehouse squat in Hackney. Instead we’re battling sexism with an instillation and performance art piece that we’ll only show to our friends and a select audience of bloggers.

This is important!! This concerns a lot of young, impressionable girls who are obviously watching this and seeing their heroes being held up as shining examples of humanity. Being rewarded, paraded, and basically winning a massive popularity contest, and having no retribution for their actions. This concerns how young girls think they will get boys to like them. This concerns how young boys think they should act towards women.

This is my case in point. This is basically an argument between Louisa (A former Apprentice contestant, who has apparently since been making headlines/minding her own business at sex parties) and Dappy. It starts with him saying the words we all love to hear – that it’s ok for a man to sleep with 5 women in one night, but if a woman did the same, it makes her a slut.

Now, can we all agree, every single one of us – no matter where you are on the feminist scale – that that is a sexist thing to say. THAT is an unacceptable way to think, and an unacceptable thing to call a woman in 2014. When it comes to sex, women and men have every right to sleep with however many people they want to. One is not a ‘stud’ whilst the others a ‘slut’. One is not a ‘player’ whilst the others a ‘slag’.

Here’s the video, just in case you really want to see it.

He goes on to follow her around the house, repeatedly asking how many men she’s slept with in one night (how is that an OK thing to ask?) she resists, so he makes up a number (it escalates from 5 to 10. B in maths.) and claims that she’s ‘loose’, exclaims (in the diary room) ‘God knows how many STIs she’s picked up!’ and tells her  ‘Your daughter would be ashamed of you!’

This is all his opinion, of course. But – in the past and indeed, in this series of Big Brother – housemates have been warned when their opinions have been seen to possibly be offensive.

  1. Evander Holyfield was given a warning over his comment about homosexuality – ‘ain’t normal…that ain’t the way nobody is made,’ and adding: ‘If you were born and your leg were turned this way, what do you do, you go to the doctor and get it fixed back right.’ That’s his opinion. He was repremanded. The warning shown within minutes.
  2. In the last series, housemate Jemima was warned when she was explaining what her preferences were – “I go for darker looking, not black, but darker features, Mediterranean. I wouldn’t generally go for a black guy’ Now, I wouldn’t said that was racism, just her preference. Again, warning given and broadcast within minutes.
  3. Dappy had actually recieved THREE warning by 7th January – although the only record I can find is of him using homophobic language – it’s unclear what the other two were for. But none of them were broadcast. Now, I’m not saying there was some kind of conspiracy to keep the horny little ferret inside the house, but when the argument happened on the 10th January – and a warning from that would have meant his eviction from the house – then all I can do is shrug my shoulders and say ‘Just sayin’ ‘

Surely you’re taking this all too seriously? His opinion, and his attitude was offensive. He wasn’t given any kind of warning. Instead, he came second. Instead, he’s out and his reputation as some kind of ‘role-model’ will – inexplicably – be reaffirmed.

And you’re all going to let that happen. Cos it’s only Big Brother. It’s not hip. It’s not cool. It’s not on some kind of socio-political agenda. You’re all a bit worried people will roll their eyes and sigh and say ‘Oh, I don’t have a TV simply because of that kind of nonsense’. Even though it’s this kind of nonsense that’s influencing more people in the nation that you’re little twitter battle or hipster knitting-coffee-morning-with-wheatgrass-shots ever will.

Anyway, suspect Number 2.

Jim-Davidson-stand-up-and-007

Surely, I don’t have to explain this one, do I? Google him…and ‘Jim Davidson Racist’ is the third one down.

His comments in the house were of the ‘everday’ sexism variety, and we’ve all learned nothing happens with those, so why bother fighting (doing the classic talking over the older women, all very Germaine Greer. Telling the single girls they should get hitched etc). But they were still there. Daily.

Now, I won’t bang on about him too much, because..well…it’s all been done before.

I recognise that he is ‘of an age’. He belongs in the past, and should now be retiring, or performing in labour clubs and in smokey members bars. He’s one of those comedians who older people still like.

But he’s not a 2014 role-model. Hell no!

So HOW THE FUCK DID HE WIN BIG BROTHER?!

Whilst looking for articles and references for this post, lots of opinion peices (including tweets from the final night) started with ‘It’s embarrassing to admit this…’

‘I wouldn’t normally watch something like this…’

‘I accidentally flicked the TV over and saw…’

All embarrassing confessions as to why and how they ‘caught themselves watching’.

So…this massive slap of homophobia, sexism and racism happened because you were just a bit too embarrassed? Too cool to watch? Too busy taking the piss out of people who were?

Well, if that’s the case, well done you. It’s done now. All you had to do was maybe talk about it, discuss it. Pick up the phone and think ‘Hmm…maybe I should vote for a girl to win, and not two massive homophobic misogynists..’ Seriously, no one would have deducted any cool points, or told anyone in Shoreditch.

You didn’t need to go to a book fair, or a political talk. No rallies, cup cake stalls or art collectives. You just have to notice this is happening. This is who young people are voting for.

This is not a passive action. It’s not them being bombarded with pictures, images and ideals. This is who they are actively voting for.

It takes about 5 minutes to complete an Ofcom form (I know, because I sent two). It’s a protest in itself. It’s saying ‘I don’t think men should talk or act that way towards women’.

Whilst I’m sure you are all doing great stuff out there to help the world of feminism on a global scale, I can’t help but think you missed the wood for the trees on this one…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* A hashtag on twitter aimed at Amnesty after they concluded that sex workers are humans to their stance on the current push to ban the buying of sex isn’t totally determined yet. (If you want to help them, and are an amensty ember, pleeeaaase make your voice heard and send them an email with your support of Sex Workers rights.)

** Well, the ratings research shows that ‘ the majority viewer is female, between 16 & 44 and is ABC1.
If you go into the details, you actually find that the 25-34 female age group is the most active viewer and that she is most likely to be in the C1 demographic group (ie professional and lower to middle class

 

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