17 Sep 2010

Watching The Wright Stuff is rarely a good idea...

...but when you're killing time at home it's bound to appear on your TV screen sooner or later. How I've watched it so much without melting into a rage-induced puddle, or at least phoning in to scream abuse at Matthew Wright for his constant ill-concealed misogyny, I'm not sure, but the occasional word of sense that is spoken by the panel or callers is probably all that restrains me. On various occasions I've seen this 'host' portray women as money-grubbing, superficial, ignorant bitches who deserve what they get if their husband cheats on them while they're pregnant because they must've 'driven him away' (yes I was watching a recent discussion of Coleen and Wayne Rooney, and Wright's constant attempts to goad callers into saying that pregnant women are responsible for their husband's infidelity was damn sickening). Today he was harping on the subject of 'No Right To Get Shirty If Things Get Flirty', or rather the question of whether women have any reasonable expectation of, oooh, I dunno, RESPECT, if they DARE to wear revealing clothes.

What was concerning was not that anyone dared to come right out and say 'Yes, if you wear a short skirt, you get what you deserve and you deserve what you get, ho', but more the utterly confused thinking of the host and panel on the issue. They were all keen to get in the disclaimer that 'no one deserves to be raped' and OBVIOUSLY Judge Pickles (judge who was famous in 80s for telling rape victims they 'asked for it') was wrong, but then they all kinda pissed over the good those words achieved, by going on to say that women 'must shoulder some of the responsibility' if men leer, shout or otherwise treat them like crap for showing some cleavage. Matthew Wright and the two female panelists all said that 'I do believe that ideally women should have the right to wear whatever they want, but that's not the world we live in'. Yeah, I guess I believe that black people have the right not to be called wogs, and that gay people have the right not to have their heads kicked in, but that's not the world we live in, so we should all just roll over and submit to the hatred and ignorance infecting our society, right? For fuck's sake. Was there ever a lazier, more analysis-dodging excuse for vile behaviour than 'Oh, that's just the way it's always been, you'll never change things, so just shut the fuck up and submit'? And yet at the moment that seems to be our answer to everything - why prostitution, rape, violence against women and every shitty tributary of those behaviours will never go away. It's always been like that - so don't even bother trying to change it, sista.

What was also noticeably absent from the discussion (and is soooo often absent from any discussion of male ill-treatment of women) was the behaviour of men. No one, at any point, raised the notion of where cat-calls, leering, sleazing and groping actually COME FROM. No one made any suggestion that the blame and responsibility for these behaviours lie SOLELY with their MALE PERPETRATORS. And frighteningly, no one saw the connection between saying 'women shoulder some of the responsibility' for these acts, and blaming women for sexual violence. There IS a connection. I'm not saying that every knuckle-dragging missing link who shouts 'Nice tits' on a night out is a rapist, but the fact is, such a person is exhibiting a lack of respect, empathy and consideration for women that sows the seeds for sexual violence. Such a man may never do anything more than shout or leer, but nonetheless he is seated on a spectrum of systematic disrespect for women's bodily autonomy, which starts with the supposedly 'harmless' acts of verbal street abuse, and ends in rape. Thinking it's OK to yell sexualised insults at someone because they are dressed in any kind of way stems from thinking that a) everything women do is for male attention, and dammit, they should be grateful for whatever they get, and b) women's bodies are not really their own, they're for public consumption and therefore, why show it off if you don't want me to scream filth about it, sugar?

Matthew Wright was very close to the crux of the issue when he made the point that blaming women for verbal sexual abuse makes as much sense as 'covering them all up with burkas', but sadly failed to go further and explain why. Burka or mini-skirt, hijab or high heels, the very fact we focus constantly on what WOMEN are wearing, shows that we still see women as being the 'gatekeepers' of sexual activity, and men as the aggressors. No one would ever seriously make the argument that a man wearing tight jeans is 'asking for' a woman or a gay man to grab his backside, because what men wear, where men go, how men act, is never up for analysis. Why else would the alcohol consumption of the victims in rape trials be so disproportionately focused on, when it's actually the rapist who is far more likely to have consumed alcohol? Because, as our society currently operates, men hold no responsibility for their behaviour - it all falls to women.

Forget for a moment how horrendous this is for women, I think it's also disturbing just what a vile picture of men this assumption paints. As the current thinking goes, men are mentally retarded, lacking in all self-control or self-awareness, naturally violent, sexually obsessed, and incapable of seeing a woman in a short skirt (because Christ knows, no one's ever seen one of those before, and GOD are they a provocative sight when we've probably all seen enough internet nudity to last us a lifetime) without behaving in ways that would embarrass an ape. Pretty much all the men I know would be heftily insulted by this depiction, and would rather die than ever publicly sleaze on a woman. Yet we're all taught to accept that This Is How Men Are, and it's really quite a fucking sad indictment of what lows our society is sinking to.

I could rant for days about this kind of shit, but I think the fantastic Tairrie B put it better than I could when she demanded a world where women have
"the right to dress sexy when and where I want
Without being harrassed for it
Or being told that I asked for it

If we're willing to wake the fuck up and stop making excuses of the kind I witnessed this morning, we'll come a lot closer to achieving it.

1 comment:

peter griggs said...

hi chas
i agree,,,mr wright said that he made his wife go to sleep with him at 6 in the evening every night as HE had to get up!!!!!!!he eventually found a submissive frightened woman to marry so that he can pass as heterosexual?he never lets anyone talk about violence towards women without sayingwomen are violent to men too!!!!hes pathetic,,,hes a closet gay!a coward!did you see him in that white bikini?he just couldnt stand women displaying their beauty!!he talks over everyone and cuts off any viewer who doesnt share his opinion!! really pathetic!!they should give his spot to richard and judy,,,id Watch it then