Wednesday, 19 December 2018

A Stupid Woman?

As the country barrels towards a Tory inflicted Brexit disaster, with Theresa May at the helm driving full-speed ahead for the rocks, and all the time undermining parliamentary democracy, and taking Britain ever closer to being a Bonapartist regime, in order to steam-roller its Brexit policy through, the Tories, and the Tory media have decided to focus all of their attention on whether Jeremy Corbyn may have muttered under his breath that Theresa May is a "stupid woman".  It indicates just what the priorities of the Tories and the Tory media amount to.

I don't know what Corbyn muttered.  I'm not a lip reader, but it appeared to me that he might have said, "What a stupid comment," rather than what he is accused of saying.  But, let's assume that he said what he is accused of saying, and let's ignore the distorted priorities of the Topry media given the current situation.  Exactly what is so wrong with what Corbyn is accused of saying?

As far as I know, Theresa May is a woman, and self identifies as a woman.  For Corbyn to have simply have said that she is a woman, therefore, is simply a statement of fact.  Had he accused her of being a woman, when in fact, she is a man, or self identifies as a man, would have been a different matter, but she isn't and doesn't, so its hard to see where any offence could be taken at that part of his comment.  So, let's take the other part of his comment that she is stupid.  Is that true?  I don't know.  Certainly given her propensity to disregard any question put to her, any alternative view and so on, and her tendency to always repeat the same stock phrases, whatever the circumstance, and whether they have any relevance to the matter being discussed, earning her the nickname, even amongst the Tory press of "The Maybot", and given her particular insistence on responding in that way, during today's PMQ's, its understandable why Corbyn might arrive at such a conclusion.

On the other hand, May's continual refusal to engage with the facts, or with the views of others in debate, her continual repetition of meaningless and duplicitous stock phrases may be an indication not of stupidity, but simply of arrogance, and contempt for democratic norms, as was reflected in the fact that her government was found guilty of contempt of the House of Commons.  It may simply be a case that she is simply a dissembling, duplicitous woman, who uses this particular tactic to be able to push her policies through parliament, rather than that she is a stupid woman.  Either way, it is a matter of opinion, and Corbyn's opinion that she is a stupid woman rather than a duplicitous or dissembling woman is as valid as any other, as would be the opinion say that she is an authoritarian woman, whose statements and contempt for parliament are simply a reflection of that tendency, as was reflected in her motto of "strong and stable leadership" at the last election, and her governments hobnobbing with various dictators and authoritarians across the globe, with whom they pronounce their "shared values".

Either way, Corbyn's statement amounts top nothing more than a statement of fact that May is a "woman", and a statement of opinion that she is "stupid".  There is nothing there that can be taken as offensive or insulting.  The first part of the statement is a statement of fact that is undisputed, the second is a statement of opinion that may be contested, but which can be justified with reference to the facts, as with any other statement of opinion.

It could only be argued that Corbyn's statement was offensive or insulting, therefore, if he had been saying not that May, as an individual who happens to be a woman, is stupid, but that women sui generis are stupid.  But, that is clearly not what Corbyn was saying, and nothing in Corbyn's politics, behaviour or history would lead any reasonable person to argue that that was what he was saying.  There is nothing any more insulting in Corbyn's statement than had he, for example, commented in relation to some similar responses from Philip Hammond "What a stupid man."

It is those who want to argue that a comment against an individual, here, May, is somehow a comment about all other individuals who are of that gender that are in fact being sexist.  But, more importantly, the whole thing shows just how desperate the Tories and the Tory media are to divert attention from the disaster that May is inflicted upon tens of millions of British people, whose concerns are rather more substantial than the media's concentration on irrelevant and insubstantial drivel.  The people of Britain deserve better under current circumstances than the concerns of a bunch of thin skinned, middle class people about whether or not they should feel insulted.  If Brexit goes ahead they will have a lot more hurled at them than a few harsh words, and perhaps they should learn to "man up", in readiness.

No comments: