Are We Back in the 1950s?

Two different articles crossed my screen today that made me wonder whether we’d been transported back to a year less modern than ours. One was an essay on what is and is not appropriate to wear, and the other was about the lovely old traditions of Christmas.

The screed on appropriate attire may seem like good advice, but it’s also sexism rolled in judgement. I am less than happy about this rather uppity woman telling other women what they may and may not do with their clothing. It’s only half a step up from telling them what they may and may not do with their bodies. There is no consideration for what type of workplace people are in, and lays down rules that are mostly appropriate for a law office, but pretty bloody stupid for a construction site. She does not take into account individual workplace cultures. It’s pontificating on high, divorced from any real workplace.

Maybe what she has to say has complete relevance to a Parliament staff member, or a legal secretary, or something equally fancy, but most workplaces are not quite so rigid.

“In an office, you’re often working in close confines. So where are men – and, really, anyone confronted by such a sight – supposed to look?”

This line, though, right at the start, is just wrong. ‘Do it for the men, honey, it’s just not fair on them’. That attitude is insulting to men and demeaning to women. If men can’t deal with a bit of cleavage, then, by extension, how can we stop them raping at random due to the temptation laid out before their eyes? It’s a bullshit argument. Men are going to see more out on the street in summer time, and they deal with it. It’s you, lady, that has the problem, and throwing a bit of sexist thinking, saying that women are the protectors of men’s gazes, is very . . . fundamentalist of you. It’s the thinking that puts women in burqas. You’re better than that (I hope). Men in our country are definitely better than that.

Moving on. It’s coming up on Christmas again. Come to think of it, it happened last year too. And the year before. It’s a cyclical epidemic! Anyway. It’s the season of buying gifts that range from awesome to terrible, and I bring you one of the terrible ones. Golliwogs. These old-school toys, renamed ‘gollies’ to try and erase some fragment of the blatant racism they are part of, are apparently selling quite well this year. Older people, especially, are buying them, presumably for their grandchildren. The buyers are probably throwbacks to a time when the blatant racism was not an issue, and I can understand their purchases.

What I cannot understand why any store these days carry golliwogs at all? I thought that racism was supposed to be something talked about with disdain, or with the precursor ‘I’m not racist but . . . ‘. Not sold on high-end store shelves! For shame, people. It’s not retro, it’s racism. It may be racism wrapped in soft material, but it’s still blatantly racist. I can’t lay blame upon the purchasers who are still holding the values of the 50s when the stockists are still carrying the dolls. What the hell, people. Have you isolated your toy buyers in the basement since 1955? Pull yourselves together and do the right thing. Or will we find 1860s plantation slaves down in the basement with your poor buyers?

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