Saturday, March 25, 2017

Who's the real sexist?

How is it I find myself defending Liberal MP for his alleged 'sexist' remark to a Conservative MP when her phone rang during an in-camera meeting last month.

Dianne Watts quotes exactly what was said to her in this audio interview. Her phone, with a generic ringtone, prompted a fellow MP to say "Where's your pole to slide down?" He was asked to repeat the comment, and asked again "Where's your pole?"

Although this wasn't part of any commentary, one might supposed Ms Watts, recognizing the ring tone as specific to one person, might have smiled and said "my daughter" before any comment was made. A clip of the ringtone does not sound like any bump and grind stripper song, or anything that might be taken as such.

Could it be that we're just so conditioned to assuming that every remark has some nefarious meaning if it's directed to a woman? All the headlines make reference to a 'stripper pole' yet even in her retelling of the incident, Watts doesn't use the word 'stripper'. She, and the other MPs who heard the remark, either inferred it at the time, or afterward when they were discussing what had been said.

Could it be that MP Nicola di Iorio was thinking of a fire fighter? Or Batman even? Watts was answering a call from her daughter... how many times are we called upon to rescue our kids when we are otherwise occupied. Did her hear her say it was her daughter and make the remark thinking how many times we rush to accommodate our kids? There is nothing remotely sexual about the ringtone, or about the ringing of a phone -- but there is definitely something parental in it.

I would never have thought he meant stripper pole, unless he used those words exactly.... why was the immediate reaction to assume THAT kind of pole? Who is the sexist here?  If a person makes a comment that is not overtly sexist, are they sexist because someone decides to take it that way? Or is it sexist to impute sexist meaning to it because it was made by a man to a woman?

di Iorio has not come to his own defense on this matter from anything I've read, although it is under investigation so perhaps that's why. Maybe though, it never occurred to him that it could be taken badly and the shock of having been called out on it has silenced him, the way being accused of something often does to innocent people.



Anonymous said...

"Who's the real sexist?"
Liberal MP Nicola di Iorio, IMO.

“Could it be that MP Nicola di Iorio was thinking of a fire fighter? Or Batman even?”
Unlikely. Idiomatic expressions with the word “pole” do not usually allude to Batman nor fire fighters.

“I would never have thought he meant stripper pole, unless he used those words exactly….”
Just because you did not react that way to the comment doesn’t mean the comment wasn’t intended to mean “stripper pole”. However, in a similar situation where a silly comment is made, the comment should have slid like the proverbial "water off a duck's back".

“di Iorio has not come to his own defense on this matter from anything I've read, although it is under investigation so perhaps that's why.”
Or maybe because the Liberals are not as transparent as they claim to be: “Despite this occurring on March 8, this incident was kept quiet until reported on by the National Post on March 23, 2017, when opposition MPs called for Di Iorio to be disciplined for his comment.”
[9] Akin, David (March 23, 2017). "Trudeau pressed to discipline male Liberal MP who joked about female Tory MP being a stripper". National Post. Retrieved March 23, 2017
[10]Zimonjic, Peter (March 23, 2017). "Punish Liberal MP for sexist remark, say opposition MPs". CBC News. Retrieved March 23, 2017.

This is my takeaway from the incident: there are far too many human interactions that should simply be ignored, that do not deserve to be scrutinized & twitterized. Ms. Watts should either have simply let it go or she should have immediately come up with a witty riposte, instead of apparently letting it brew for some time. Now the perception might be that it has been brought up for political gain.
-- Gabby in QC

Anonymous said...

Your first thought was to justify the comment, and if it was made by a conservative, I can bet firefighter would not be on top of your list... you know it and I know it.. be honest and acknowledge the fact this man made a inappropriate comment to a female MP.. because "a jaunty ring tone played while her daughter was calling her cell phone which prompted the Liberal MP to say, where is your pole to slide down.. " sorry, last I checked fire fighters do not slide down poles with a jaunty tune playing..But keep stretching.Feminist Justin would be proud of you.

Canadianna said...

Gabby--maybe it's my age but honestly, stripper pole isn't really part of my lexicon, unless of course the ringtone might have prompted it... Which, upon hearing it seems a leap. I don't think Ms Watts is trying to make political gain. She sounds legitimately offended. I really just think people are inclined to take things in the worst possible way, particularly in a partisan setting.

Anonymous... I can only guess you found me through the Blogging Tories website. Any guesses as to why? I'm not a card-carrying Conservative but I am a conservative. My comments are not based on party affiliation. You have assumed that MP Di iorio's comment was a reaction to the ringtone itself.... Which doesn't sound like a stripper tune to me... I'm suggesting that his comment was made upon hearing who was on the phone. Truth is, we'll never know but just as you've managed to make erroneous judgements about what was in my head, you're capable of making the same rash judgement about someone else.

Anonymous said...

"I really just think people are inclined to take things in the worst possible way, particularly in a partisan setting."
You're quite right -- but I would not go so far as to label Ms. Watts herself as being sexist, as suggested by the title of your post. Some Conservative MPs (like Michelle Rempel) sometimes go on that kind of "sexist" rant against some opponent saying something or other -- I suppose it's to pick away at the Liberals' & Justin Trudeau's purported feminist credentials. Personally, I think women crying "sexist" too often just reinforces the image of us women as being hyper-sensitive, unable to function in a man's world. Better to hammer away at promises not kept, flip-flops, wrong-headed policies, empty platitudes etc. rather than be offended by stupid comments & then whine about it. If Ms. Watts wanted to react to the comment, maybe she could have said -- when it happened, not in delayed reaction -- something like "So what happened to «Because it's 2015»? To which Di Iorio would probably have responded "huh?"
-- Gabby in QC

Canadianna said...

You're right, Gabby. The title does give the impression that I'm suggesting Ms Watts is sexist, which I don't really think. I think it's a miscommunication, exacerbated by a hostile political climate. There's a certain 'gotcha!' feel to so many accusations and sometimes, like this (to me) feels like a stretch. But you're absolutely right.... I miscommunicated in my attempt to point that out.
You're also right about the 'should've'.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for both your replies. Between you and me, I think we have demonstrated that people with different POVs can have a civil discussion without resorting to name-calling. Unfortunately it's not the case in some BT blogs that are still active -- at least some of the ones I still visit. The minute one strays from the line adopted by most other commenters, one is either termed a CINO or an outright moron. Yet those same commenters complain about the Left's dogmatism.
--Gabby in QC

canadianna said...

You're welcome, Gabby. And thank you, too. It's easy to have a conversation when the commenter is respectful and doesn't jump to conclusions. I think most Canadians, left and right, are pretty centrist in their views. I consider myself conservative because on the issues that are important to me, I lean right. It doesn't mean that I'm going to agree with everything that is conservative or claims to be. I see in your responses to my posts that you are not strictly partisan. You base your opinions on your own intuition and value set, not political ideology and definitely not political party. It's harder to do these days. The rigid dogmatic views of some bloggers and many commenters is exactly what stifles real discourse.