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Before setting out on a critique, you wonder if it’s worth it. In some cases the person you are critiquing is so oblivious that the more cunning your argument, the more likely it is to go over their head. It is with a certain ambivalence, then, that I set out to put Ed McConnell straight, following his apology for a couple of chauvinist football commentators.
The bulk of McConnell’s argument consists of dismissing another article, by David Mitchell, on the basis that Mitchell’s accusation of misogyny “stems from the single assumption, made by many, that the comments made were spoken sincerely.” For McConnell, “a joke is still a joke regardless”. This “context” apparently makes the remarks “not sexist”. McConnell seems to be blind to the obvious fact that a sexist joke is sexist.
A more interesting “context” in which to locate the comments might have been the generally accepted chauvinism that apparently informs McConnell’s comment piece. For, it is this that makes the subsequent uproar by the media against Gray and Keys so ironic.
Instead McConnell moves on in the last paragraphs of his piece to brush over some disturbing opinions. The first of these is to claim that the young women who are sexually exploited by Sky’s TV program, Soccer AM – the skimpily dressed “Soccerettes”– not only enjoy their exploitation, but are actually the ones to blame. McConnell goes as far as to suggest that these women are actually the ones who are exploiting paying men and that it is therefore these women who are sexist.
He then goes on to suggest that society in general is sexist towards men, and that 90% of “society in general” are privately racist, sexist or homophobic – which apparently makes it all right, and anyone who critiques these attitudes a hypocrite.
In short: the chief feat of McConnell is to launch into a misguided defence of pervasive discrimination and oppression, and then to blame the oppressed for their own oppression. I only wish the fault were to be found in McConnell alone, but unfortunately not. We live in a deeply reactionary moment. Indeed, in his defence of misogyny, McConnell is actually only parroting an argument recently made by Tory MP Dominic Raab, which accused feminists of being bigots. Not surprising given that the Con-Dem policies are, in their effects, racist and sexist.
Since this argument has gone over the heads of (according to McConnell’s estimate) 90% of you, let me finish with the shout: Wake up people! And please stop filling SCAN Comment with this garbage. It’s an embarrassment.