Calm down, dear. Fuck off, toerag.

Yes, I know Osama Bin Laden was killed today or yesterday or overnight but I have a feeling that’s been done to death (pun intended) at this stage. Frankly, I’m trying to avoid seeing any more menacing crowds full of people who seem to be delighting in the bloodlust. It’s stomach-churning.

And I want to write about something else anyway.

Many of my betters have commented on calmdowndeargate before me (and have done so better than I could hope to) so I won’t labour over it again in much detail. For those of you who have been in hiding, or who have genuinely not read about or watched anything but the royal nonsense for a week, you may not know that our delightful PM, David (“Call me Dave”) Cameron, last week instructed a member of the opposition in the Commons to, “calm down, dear” during Prime Minister’s Questions. It will not come as any surprise to you that said member is a woman.

Cath Elliott wrote a wonderful piece in Comment in Free which lambasted Dave for his sexist remark. In the piece, she discusses Cameron’s categorical denial that he’s a sexist pig by rightly arguing that if he were not, such a remark would not have just rolled off his tongue. Sexism (just like racism, ableism, ageism, homophobia, etc. etc.) does not just “slip out” if you’ve never considered it before. Dave has all the trappings of a would-be-sexist, of course: old Etonian and member of the Bullingdon Club in Oxford (I went to Oxford; I’ve had some of the misogyny from those charmers first-hand), so the evidence is already stacked against him. Add into the mix his brutal budget cuts, most of which impinge on women most severely, and his virtually all-male cabinet, and there’s little point in him denying his sexism further. That, Dave, is a cert.

But why the vehemence of the reaction, you ask. Well, it’s because we’re fucking sick of it. Women have been told to “calm down” since time began, normally when they’re trying to make a point, argue a perspective, or offer an opinion. To do so, and to do so passionately, is hysteria, you see. Women shouldn’t have discussions because they get too damn emotional and invariably need to, yes, calm down. From Cath Elliott again:

Whatever his excuse turns out to be though, any woman who watched [Wednesday’s] exchange will be able to attest that “Calm down, dear” is neither humorous nor edgy; it is instead a classic sexist put-down, designed to shut women up and put them back “in their place”. “Calm down, dear” is what women hear when we’re allegedly being “hysterical” or “overemotional”. It’s that tired old gender stereotyping, the sort that implies that if we can’t even keep our emotions in check, then we obviously aren’t cut out for the more serious male world of politics and debate.

I have a colleague – a classic misogynist who thinks he’s a feminist because he “likes” women and supports them in their little endeavours – who tells his female colleagues to calm down all the time. He doesn’t realise (or doesn’t care) how utterly offensive and silencing those two little words are. I’ve told him, but it doesn’t need to matter to him. He and Dave are never told to calm down because they’re educated, privileged, white men who are allowed to have opinions and to express them in whatever way they please. Their faults, whatever they are, could never be called “uncalm”.

Women, on the other hand, have to checked, reprimanded, and reminded of their place all the time. That’s the first rule of the patriarchy. Let’s face it, they’d be better off not speaking in the first place if they can’t avoid being hysterical, amirite? ‘Course I am. And wouldn’t that be a happy day for you, Dave?

14 responses to “Calm down, dear. Fuck off, toerag.

  1. The funny thing is, Angela Eagle was correcting him in the first instance not because he was being patronising or sexist or posh or unfunny, but because he simply said something that wasn’t true (that Howard Stoate had been defeated in the 2010 election). I always thought such nerdy pedantry about empirical facts was meant to be stereotypically male, left-brain behaviour – at least it is when I do it – so I suspect that’s why Cameron lost his cool. It was suddenly as if he’d been beaten by a *girl* in a pub quiz, and all his mates were going to laugh at him. So he had to pretend the question he’d got pwned on was about something rubbish and insubstantial, like curtains or Justin Bieber. That’s where the childish abuse came from.

    She might just as well have told the Commons that he had a teeny winky.

    • Oh my, I that’s worse! To be singularly unwilling to be corrected by a “girl”, and to then have to reconstruct the discussion to humiliate her, is even more sexist! Either way, his hatefulness know no bounds these days.

      And did you see Osbourne’s gleeful face during the whole sorry mess? He’s another one…!

        • I’m pretty sure that it has nothing to do with a man’s job, his pay packet or the car he likes to drive. It is no doubt something to do with inheritance in a biological sense rather than who gets the keys to the stately home.

        • Other comments soon but this one: really?! Are you sure. You’ve just outed a large percentage of the male gender! I could have sworn a big car = big willy! Well there you go! 😉

  2. There’s no need for him to avoid being a condescending prick. His votes come from men who assume that the “little woman” has only the opinion provided for her by her father or husband. He garners more votes by putting women down than he does by admitting to a small mistake (something politicians are never allowed to do for some reason) and his business is about winning votes*.

    Why should he even talk to women, gay people, non-whites, the working class, the disabled or any “special interest” group when he has the cream of the 65.1% of people who bother to vote. By cream I mean the stuff that floats to the top. Those who are established (generally over 44), and possessing a reasonable income or personal wealth. The young and poor don’t vote as much. Women don’t vote. Young mothers with part time jobs rarely vote.

    With only 22% of the Commons being made up of women it is no wonder that women have a hard time identifying with their MP or opposition counterpart. With the austerity cabinet having 18 millionaires (out of 22) it is no wonder that the working classes and the less well off have a hard time identifying with them too. He can afford to be rude.

    What’s worse is that speaking up about it will only get you labelled as one of those “feminists” that are now stopping good, working class men from getting jobs. Pointing out his arrogance will just get people to say that the poor dear needs someone to look after her. Honestly, you can’t win. Not in the short term anyway. Keep pointing it out though. Eventually it’ll sink in.

    *Actually it is about running the country in the manner that is in the best interests of the constituents but I don’t think anyone has told him that.

    • Good (and terrifying) point there. And if the polls on Thursday are anything to do by, I’ve got even less faith in the electorate than I had.

      You really can’t win. Women have been completely silenced in this country. And it is not helped AT ALL with the likes of Nadine Dorries and her vehement anti-woman agenda.

  3. You’ve just outed a large percentage of the male gender! I could have sworn a big car = big willy! Well there you go!

    What about all those young roister doisters that I got the train with today? No car at all.

    • HA! Yes, I saw that at the time – that was me told! Dave invokes Samantha a lot, apparently, when he’s being criticised for his treatment of/ views on women. “What do you mean?! My wife is VERY successful! I love successful, independent women!” Doesn’t sound at all like, “I have lots of black/ gay/ poor/ disabled/ [insert other oppressed group] friends”, does it?

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