Politisplaining, Alt-Rightsplaining & Mediasplaining

Because mensplaining and womensplaining are old hat — sexism, like racism and other type of bigotry, is apparently mainstream again — I figured I’d introduce the new concepts that I think are (unfortunately!) going to be all the rage in 2017: politisplaining, alt-rightsplaining and mediasplaining.

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Rejoice! – Oh no, better not…

Once the news of the birth of the royal baby broke last night, it didn’t take long for the miserable folks to come out of the woodwork. Because people are dying or fleeing in Syria. Because thousands of babies are born in the United Kingdom each day, many of whom may grow up in poverty. Which is all true, but does that mean no one should be allowed to rejoice the birth of a baby who may grow up to become king one day?

If the monarchy is the problem, let’s have a referendum tomorrow, and if a majority of the people prefers the republic we’ll go ahead with that and this newborn baby will indeed be no more special than any other. There will still be babies born to grow up in poverty, though. Just like Carl Froome won the Tour de France the other day, yet there are still homeless people sleeping in shop doorways, so I hope you didn’t celebrate. And Andy Murray won Wimbledon, but there are still people having to escape wars into far-away refugee camps, so let’s not rejoice. When the British & Irish Lions won the 2013 Tour the other day, while millions of people were (and are) out of work, don’t tell me you had a party after that victory. Let’s not even begin to plan festivities if (or should I say when) England’s cricketers win the Ashes shortly, because there are still people relying on foodbanks, don’t you know.

So let’s not ever be joyous, ever, shall we, over something that doesn’t matter, something that doesn’t profoundly changes people’s life, okay? Apparently, that’s what some people think, judging by their comments online. And while my previous paragraph here may sound ridiculous, nothing was quite as ridiculous as the responses I got from those people when I confronted the unpleasantness of them lashing out at the birth of a baby: I’ve been called a stupid wench (mirror here), shallow, dim (mirror here)… but no one’s come up with a solid reason about what’s so wrong about people being happy about something, even while bad things happen elsewhere.

I am not even asking people to become royalist or patriotist, hell, I’m not even British. All I’m saying is, that in the perspective of all that’s bad, wrong and horrible on this planet… there may still be things worth celebrating, and people damn well should be happy about those if they feel like it! If that’s not allowed, let’s take the few old TVs attached to generators away from the slums, so people there wallow in their misery a bit more and harder, rather than watch sports on the blower. Let’s not treat ourselves to dinners restaurants while there are people starving. Let’s not buy each other presents when that money is better spent on foodbank donations. Is that the way we want things to go? Really?

For all the misery in this world, good things still happen, and however menial or unimportant those events might seem to others, what’s so bad about people rejoicing for a moment, if only to take their minds off everything that doesn’t look like or smell of roses, be it in their own lives or those of the world population at large?

<sarcasm> Well done Wal-Mart! </sarcasm>

(Previously posted on Tumblr)

Click here to go to the original article this post comments onI read the article pictured (and linked) and thought…

Here’s a crazy theory: Wal-Mart are victims of their own success in driving down wages; they set a trend that other employers followed, and now people just don’t have enough money to spend.

It’s only a theory, and I am no economist, but I am a former retail worker who remembers all too well that whatever money I had left after bills and food, I spent in the very shops I worked at, and I remember my colleagues doing the very same.

These days life’s very basics (like a roof over your head) have become so expensive, and average wages so disproportionally low, there’s little money left to actually spend. While I appreciate Wal-Mart can’t influence the cost of fuel and housing, I do believe they and their subsidiaries may have been trendsetters in squeezing the most out of their employees without providing a wage that in many parts of the world doesn’t cover people’s basic cost of living.

There has to be a breaking point at which no amount of cheap produce, price wars, coupons and vouchers are going to meet the needs of customers – their own workers included – who have already had to let go of any wants because they just can’t afford things anymore, because they simply do not get paid enough.

Well done Wal-Mart and other retailers for being the very architects of what I believe could be your own downfall. Here’s an idea: pay people a livable wage.

Of envyism and journotism

Part of the below (text marked purple) was previously posted as a comment on Huffington Post’s article but at the time of posting this blog entry this comment was still pending approval.

It’s to easy for Huffington Post to tweet about “Private schools for the 1%” copying and pasting info from the institutions’ websites onto their own to suit that agenda, conveniently leaving out that plenty (if not all) of the schools referred to offer fee-free places and scholarships to pupils whose parents could never afford the tuition fees.

Khadeeja Safdar happily mentions the popular statistic regarding children on free school meals who never make it to Oxbridge, conveniently leaving out any statistics of how many former Etonians going to Oxbridge made it there on scholarships and completely ignoring Britains anti-class attitudes that are damaging children’s opportunities in education, work and life.

On a day that dumbed-down envyists rejoice in News Corp’s losses and celebrate HuffPo journoTs, may I suggest perhaps engaging in proper research, for instance into how the UK’s state care system is letting down young people while costing more per child than private boarding schools charge per place?

Note: While Huffington Post profiles itself as ‘The Internet Newspaper’ and is structured with editors, chief editors etc., it’s still a blog (and at times p*** poor at relaying ‘news’).

If we, as consumers, value our serious press/media we best invest in their outlets, be it through buying (electronic) papers, advertising with them, or shopping through affiliate links.

In the meantime, I hope the serious, professional (‘proper’) journalists stop blaming the public and the internet for what could become their industry’s slow demise, and show us, through quality journalism, how they distinguish themselves from blogs and gutter press (because right now the difference isn’t always noticeable; it’s almost if some have lowered their level to compete with bad journots) and why they are worth paying for.

P.S. Khadeeja, if you’re reading this: in your Twitter bio you claim to be a Journalism graduate from Columbia University. If you are, and this copy-and-paste job is what you’re churning out as acceptable ‘journalism’, I’d go and ask my tuition fees back if I were you, seriously. I have nothing against you as a person, but that. Was not. Journalism.

Homophobe 100?

This weekend Amsterdam will be bursting with pride – Gay Pride that is. You don’t have to be gay to immerse yourself in what will be one great big whopper of a party weekend. And to celebrate that occasion, Dutch public radio, like previous years, decided on hosting the “Homo 100” (the “Gay Top 100”), charting the 100 most “Gay” (gayest?) songs, as decided by a public vote.

Which is where I’m started to feel a bit uncomfortable. (Please don’t misunderstand those words;
I am not taking offense, neither for myself nor on behalf of others… I am just feeling a tad uncomfortable here.)

You see, I am delighted to see how Amsterdam Gay Pride has grown from a one-day parade into what is still referred to as a ‘weekend’ even though events stretch across seven or eight days. In a country where plenty of people still like to (make others) believe they are a “tolerant nation” – which they’re not, really, or should I say not really (or even really not?) – it is great to see that you don’t have to be straight to get married or gay to enter a and civil partnership (oh Britain, how I wish…) and it’s fabulous that Gay Pride has really become a celebration among all people, irrespective of each individual party-goer’s sexual orientation. I sincerely believe that such legislation and events seriously contribute to a culture of equality and integration.

But that’s exactly where I’m feeling somewhat uncomfortable about this “Gay Hot 100” chart. Voting was open to everyone (equality!); I don’t think there would have been any way to set up the online voting system so that “only gays” would have got to put in their choice of “hot, gay music”, nor do I believe it would have been possible to track which percentage of online contributors was gay, bi, or straight. What that did do, though, is open the door to every (hetero?) Tom, Dick, Harry and their dog to put in what they believe to be “music gays like” or “gay music” or whatever you want to call it.

In other words, people get to express their prejudices and stereotypes, and that is what bothers me – this has become a charting of songs perceived as “gay” when I doubt you’ll hear (m)any of those tunes played in popular clubs that specifically market themselves to a LGBT audience (unless the clubs in the Netherlands are very different from those here in London). In that sense the “Home 100” is possibly more a “Homophobe 100” than it is a “Gay Hot 100”.

Doesn’t that risk reinforcing – rather than dispelling – bigotry?