Where’s the feminist outrage?


by Ala
30th October, 2008 at 7:56 pm    

There’s no doubt that the current witchunt against BBC presenters was in part exacerbated by the right-wing press seizing this morsel of bad BBC press like a rabid pack of hounds. The rest of it is just the general public’s hankering for a good old self-righteous lynching. But what was the crime that ignited this moral rage? Joking about an old man’s suicide? Talking of one’s sexual partner in pejorative and sexist terms (and making a point that it was consensual. And here’s us thinking he’d gone and raped her). Or was it the sympathy for a man whose honour had been violated via a sexual encounter with a female relative? What disgusted me about the Brand-Ross prank, but not enough for me to call for their dismissal, was its underlying misogyny. And it seems the complaints were in tandem with this. So many people were outraged because they sympathised not so much with his granddaughter but with Sachs himself.

Worryingly, even the left-wing press has taken this line. Peter Tatchell surprised me when he said in the Guardian:

It is not as if Baille is some innocent convent girl. She admits she slept with Brand and she works as a “burlesque dancer” in a group called Satanic Sluts. Yet she claims Brand’s jokes have damaged her public image and hurt her feelings. Oh please!

So because she’s not ashamed of her sexuality, we can talk about it in pejorative terms, she’s fair game. Had she been an ‘innocent’ virgin, we should presumably call for blood when her honour is violated. I, for one, am outraged.


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  1. septicisle — on 30th October, 2008 at 8:18 pm  

    Err, I don’t think this is anything to do with her sexuality. I think it’s to do with her appalling taste in men, knowing full well what Brand is like, as well as selling her story to the Sun and today detailing their sex life in full on the front page. To then complain that the mentioning of her sex life has embarrassed her grandfather is the absolute height of chutzpah.

  2. chairwoman — on 30th October, 2008 at 8:24 pm  

    I thought that she wasn’t menstrual

  3. Ala — on 30th October, 2008 at 8:27 pm  

    Yes of course. How silly of me. Let me edit that.

  4. Amrit — on 30th October, 2008 at 9:11 pm  

    What I’d like to know is:

    - when did she sell her story to The Sun?

    If it was now, after the revelations and the outcry, then I don’t see why that should be held against her. It’s like Paris Hilton taking control of the sales of her leaked video – if this girl is trying to profit from the misfortune that somebody else dropped on her, why shouldn’t she? She might have even lost her job for all we know.

    I like the way that Peter Tatchell has evidently looked at her and gone: ‘Burlesque dancer + part of a group called Satanic Sluts = slut’.

    @ septisicle:

    ‘I think it’s to do with her appalling taste in men, knowing full well what Brand is like’

    Err… everyone should be allowed to have ‘appalling taste in men’ without the fear of it coming back to haunt them. And what does that mean? Nothing – Brand has presumably had relations with a number of people, and we haven’t seen THEM being disgraced.

    Why is she automatically a ‘slut’ because she’s a burlesque dancer? That’s what I want to know. Are Chippendales automatically assumed to be man-whores or gigolos? I wouldn’t say so.

    ‘It is not as if Baille is some innocent convent girl.’

    What the fuck does that mean, anyway? Because she has only been embarrassed – not lost her innocence, and presumably her virginity, which in a convent would be tantamount to losing everything – we shouldn’t pity her at all?

    So, Peter Tatchell, are you saying people should get fucked over completely and lose more than just ‘face’ before we feel sorry for them? Jeez.

  5. marvin — on 30th October, 2008 at 9:35 pm  
  6. Boyo — on 30th October, 2008 at 10:07 pm  

    “I, for one, am outraged.” Really? Sounds as manufactured as a “Satanic Slut” to me ;-)

  7. septicisle — on 30th October, 2008 at 10:15 pm  

    Amrit: Brand is a notorious lothario, has treated women abysmally on a number of occasions and in at least one anecdote in his book he describes having sex with a woman who directly asked him not to tell her friends which he promptly went and did. I didn’t refer to as a slut, although considering hardcore porn footage with her in it has already emerged I’m finding it incredibly amusing that the likes of the Daily Mail are by proxy defending someone they would otherwise castigate.

  8. DavidMWW — on 30th October, 2008 at 10:41 pm  

    “Where’s the feminist outrage?” The headline raised my hopes.

    In a week which saw:

    a 17 year old girl thrown to the dogs for dishonoring her family,

    50 men stone a Somali woman to death for “adultery”,

    an Indonesian cleric marry a 12-year-old, and announce his plans to add a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old to his collection,

    how nice to see feminists standing up for the really important issues – like how Russell Brand talks about his ex-girlfriends.

  9. DavidMWW — on 30th October, 2008 at 10:41 pm  

    “Where’s the feminist outrage?” The headline raised my hopes.

    In a week which saw:

    a 17 year old girl thrown to the dogs for dishonoring her family,

    50 men stone a Somali woman to death for “adultery”,

    an Indonesian cleric marry a 12-year-old, and announce his plans to add a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old to his collection,

    how nice to see feminists standing up for the really important issues – like how Russell Brand talks about his ex-girlfriends.

  10. DavidMWW — on 30th October, 2008 at 10:46 pm  

    (I only meant to say that once)

  11. billy — on 30th October, 2008 at 10:51 pm  

    Are Chippendales automatically assumed to be man-whores or gigolos? I wouldn’t say so

    Having worked in a nightclub at which male strippers used to perform, the most generous thing I can say about your perception is that you’re naive on that account.

    This is the best thing to happen to Ms Baillie’s career. She’ll make a lot of money, and she’ll probably get some kind of media work from it. Apart from Mr Sachs, nobody comes out of this spectacle looking good.

  12. Sunny — on 30th October, 2008 at 11:20 pm  

    David – are you saying feminists aren’t outraged over stuff like that?

    Anyway, well said Ala.

  13. DavidMWW — on 31st October, 2008 at 12:51 am  

    No, I’m not saying that. I’m just saying you don’t hear from them much.

    It’s been on my mind lately. I recently unsubscribed from the F-word blog in frustration for that very reason. On typical day when you’d hear of a woman getting murdered for stepping out of line, you could read an F-worder tut-tutting prissily about a titillating TV ad. Pissed me off in the end.

    That said, Ala does have a fair point that needed to be made. Sorry, Ala, if I vented at you unfairly.

  14. Don — on 31st October, 2008 at 12:52 am  

    I’m sure that Sachs was embarassed, humiliated and hurt by the prank. He was certainly owed an apology for being taunted with his grand-daughter’s personal life.

    I’m fairly sure that his grand-daughter sees this as the best thing that has ever happened to her and is even now choosing between reality TV shows.

    So, yeah, my sympathy is with Sachs, who is the only protagonist with any dignity.

  15. BenSix — on 31st October, 2008 at 1:41 am  

    An anon comment from Aaronovitch Watch needs wider airing…

    “After the show trial they’ll be put on the Sachs Offender’s Register.

    I’ll get me coat.”

  16. Refresh — on 31st October, 2008 at 1:42 am  

    Plague on all their houses, except of course Andrew Sachs’.

    Brand should have gone earlier, Ross should be sacked or better still have his contract severely renegotiated. There is nothing wrong with holding our stars in contempt as we might our bankers, when they are responsible for a calamity.

    As for Andrew Sachs, he really has been stuffed. By the BBC, by Brand and Ross and by his granddaughter. Reading between the lines it does not look as if Mr Sachs is all that happy with his granddaughter’s choice of ‘career’.

    I would despair if she was to benefit from this, whilst claiming to be upset for her grandfather.

    On the broader front, its irrelevant that its Andrew Sachs. It would be equally offensive had the calls been to an ordinary household.

    Ala, I believe feminism is learning to see the wood for the trees. Well I hope it is.

    For what its worth, the catastrophe from a feminist point of view was losing one of the most succesful executives in broadcasting.

  17. Anas — on 31st October, 2008 at 1:56 am  

    So because she’s not ashamed of her sexuality, we can talk about it in pejorative terms, she’s fair game. Had she been an ‘innocent’ virgin, we should presumably call for blood when her honour is violated. I, for one, am outraged.

    Sorry, but I’m not seeing what’s wrong with what Tatchell said here. In fact the man is spot on. If you’re a stripper, in fact part of a troupe that goes under the name the Satanic sluts, being outed as one of Brand’s previous conquests is hardly going to besmirch your good name is it — as Bailie claimed?

    Indeed she has greedily capitalised on it herself presumably with a full view of squeezing every last drop of publicity she can get from it, making her a different kind of slut I guess. But getting back to what Tatchell said. At the end of the day, maybe it’s just plain wrong for the public at large to associate stripping under the title “slut” with promiscuity, and of course it may also a serious feminist issue. The public however do tend to make these assumptions unfortunately, and Tatchell was just pointing this out.

  18. fugstar — on 31st October, 2008 at 2:12 am  

    brand was getting out of hand. he has been allowed to be the obnoxious toerag for too long. his attack on palin was mean and it seemed to be that every thing was game for his kind of humour, which is immasculine but not regognised as such.

    The uk case with the grand daughter is complicated. Its harder for people to defend her honour (they should) because they are not accustomed to hitting back and expressing their disgust at outrageous media behaviour. Folks need to reflect on what honour and privacy mean, even in a promiscious big brother fueled age like this one.

  19. Kulvinder — on 31st October, 2008 at 4:22 am  

    There haven’t been many times in my life i’ve been on the floor metaphorically trying to literally laugh my insides out, but last night was one of those times.

    The icing on the cake of this entire selfrightous farce was when Emily Maitlis started a line of questioning so pooterish and absurd it could have been an episode of Brass Eye.

    Outrage Emily!

  20. bananabrain — on 31st October, 2008 at 10:27 am  

    what really outraged me was when gordon brown decided to jump on the bandwagon. what with two wars and a global financial crisis, i would have thought he had slightly more important things to spend his time worrying about.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  21. Refresh — on 31st October, 2008 at 12:23 pm  

    This is worth a read –
    Extract:

    ‘The exaggerated laddishness that Ross personifies, and which is ridiculous in a man who is physically fully grown, if not intellectually developed, can be found in parts of all the British classes and particularly in my thirtysomething generation. It will not vanish with a row over the behaviour of a broadcaster and can be seen on Blackpool promenade on a raucous Friday evening, or at the Bullingdon club, as the heirs to Osborne and Rothschild smash up some bar and pay off the proprietor.

    Loutishness in the British male is nothing new; to an extent it is in our national DNA and partly explains the nation’s military success. But only in more recent decades has it been celebrated by sources of authority: the nation’s public service broadcaster and a slew of magazines and advertisers. The tenor of most mainstream comedy, and other entertainment, has become abusive and the tone of much of the national conversation is now glib and cynical.’

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/10/31/do3101.xml

    Never, ever thought I’d be referencing anything from the Telegraph.

  22. bananabrain — on 31st October, 2008 at 12:31 pm  

    never, ever thought i’d be in 100% agreement with refresh!

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  23. Refresh — on 31st October, 2008 at 12:36 pm  

    I think I’d better re-read that piece, carefully. : )

  24. billy — on 31st October, 2008 at 1:19 pm  

    DavidMWW

    I’m going to make an ad hominem, aggressive and accusatory comment on your blog one day soon, under one of your posts about religion, citing your ignoring of various bad things that have happened in the world recently. It’s OK because I just need to vent.

    +++++++

    Anyway, more on this story. So it turns out that Ms Baillie describes in The Sun in explicit detail exactly how she had sex with Brand, hardly the soul of discretion is she. Just doesn’t sound like she really cares about her grandfather’s feelings on the issue. She’s also done some hardcore lesbian spanking porn, which you can all google and see if you feel the need to flesh out your insight on the subject. The whole thing really is a circus. What a farce. David Cameron and Gordon Brown jumping in. What a joke they make of their positions. And finally, The Sun and the Daily Mail, a bigger pair of hypocritical little twats you could never find. What a farcical, hypocritical, hysterical spectacle.

  25. MaidMarian — on 31st October, 2008 at 2:11 pm  

    ‘So many people were outraged because they sympathised not so much with his granddaughter but with Sachs himself.’

    Well, yes – and not totally unreasonably given that it was him who got the phone call.

    I would guess that there is no feminist outrage (or at least not much) simply because Baillie is not really that much of a feminist poster girl. I suspect that she would readily agree.

    Ross jumped the shark about ten years ago and Brand is just a self-indulgent wannabe. One can only guess whether this incident will be in his next booky wook.

    Incidentally, doesn’t Brand write now and then for the Guardian? That might explain why they were rather restrained.

    I agree with others that this is really a non-story, but there really is no feminist angle to bolt on.

    One point does seem to have been overlooked. I saw in one of the reports that the producer on the show was 25. I don’t know much about the media, but 25 sounds terribly young to be a producer? Or am I wrong on that, I am happy to be corrected.

  26. Ala — on 31st October, 2008 at 3:11 pm  

    MaidMarian, you seem to be saying that it’s fine to let misogyny fly around if the woman in question accepts it. We’d be calling a certain sub-section of young blacks the N word next.

    Whether Baillie cares or not about her reputation is totally irrelevant. The point is that a woman’s sexuality was used to insult a male relative, and everyone seemed to find that outrageous for the wrong reasons. I’d say there’s a fair feminist angle there.

  27. Sofia — on 31st October, 2008 at 4:45 pm  

    why did brand and ross think anyone gave a monkeys who brand had slept with…boring boring..yawn..don’t make this more than it is…it’s nothing to do with womens’ rights..for god’s sakes, more to do with relyin on the old sexual jokes to fall back on when you don’t have anything interesting to say.

  28. Sofia — on 31st October, 2008 at 4:46 pm  

    I’m sure if brand had slept with Sach’s grandson (i don’t know if he has one)..that would have been mentioned too..

  29. Sofia — on 31st October, 2008 at 4:50 pm  

    Bananabrain post 20 – it’s ok..old gordo bought the x factor single for the armed forces so he’s still doing his bit…

  30. MaidMarian — on 31st October, 2008 at 4:50 pm  

    Ala (26) – Thank you for taking the time to reply, I certainly see where you are coming from there. I agree that much of the outrage here is misdirected.

    I would actually suggest that whether she cares about her reputation does have some relevance here. It is difficult to take up a cause from a feminist standpoint when feminism isn’t really on the ‘wronged’ person’s mind. That, of course, does not excuse misogyny in and of itself. It just makes it harder to use this case as a strong argument.

  31. Jai — on 31st October, 2008 at 5:58 pm  

    She’s also done some hardcore lesbian spanking porn

    Well, since nobody else here’s mentioned it, I may as well say it: That is one smoking hot lesbian spanking satanic stripper.

    As for the clips on Google, Billy I expect you have the gratitude of all those Picklers and lurkers who’ll check that out “for academic purposes” and pretend not to ;)

    And as for the “spanking”, well she has been very naughty. That’s all I’m saying.

    Okay, on a more serious note:

    The point is that a woman’s sexuality was used to insult a male relative, and everyone seemed to find that outrageous for the wrong reasons.

    Not quite. The fact that Brand had supposedly (and as it turned out, this has subsequently been confirmed by the other party) slept with the woman was used to needle the male relative, playground schoolboy-style. The total lack of discretion and betrayal of trust by the two comedians concerned is bad enough, but the fact that to some extent Andrew Sachs is a bit of a “national treasure” (thanks to Fawlty Towers etc, although his advanced age obviously also has a lot to do with the reaction) is the reason for much of the outrage.

    I guess a residual sense of chivalry also caused outrage on behalf of the woman concerned due to Brand & Ross’s ungentlemanly conduct, and although the lovely Georgina obviously ain’t exactly a shy wilting wallflower who’ll get a fit of the vapours and reach for the smelling salts at the slightest saucy remark, this doesn’t negate the fact that she’s still a human being with the associated emotional sensitivities in relationship matters and therefore deserves to be treated with some consideration.

    Although, having said that, she’s not doing her cause any favours by blagging all to The Sun etc, but to each her own. *shrug* Whatever.

  32. Leon — on 31st October, 2008 at 10:05 pm  

    This whole thing is bullshit, excellent piece on LC:

    http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/10/30/blood-on-the-carpet/

    Brand, Ballie and Ross are all as bad as each now if you ask me.

  33. Jean-Luc Picard — on 31st October, 2008 at 10:41 pm  

    Kulvinder

    the queen’s iz no doubt haunted, and zas why I wouldn’t go near her.

  34. Ala — on 31st October, 2008 at 10:46 pm  

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