Thursday, 8 May 2014

It's all relevant

It may have come to your attention via some social media or indeed conventional media that River Island sold an offensive novelty item and then removed it from their stores when the public kicked up a stink.
The novelty item in question was a toy ball gag fashioned out of a plastic football and some elastic. It was sold with the name 'The Domestic Anti Nag Gag' which, to quote the BBC article ''urged men to 'gag' nagging women ... ''. Though clearly a novelty item, the gag wouldn't stand up to any real usage, the message behind it was clear: 'women talk to much, men should make them stop.'.
It additionally built on the stereotypes that women are over talkative harpies who only care about domestic issues ('It's your turn to do the dishes' and 'pick your clothes up off the floor' screeches the woman to be gagged on the packaging) and men are only interested in watching the footy and other such blokish activities. The notion that perhaps men and women might share domestic duties, or engage in a dialogue or even *gasp* watch sports together isn't even considered.

So that is the item that started it all. But this post isn't about the item directly; it is a response to a facebook post that claimed that people were wrong to be offended by this, that it was trivial and should be dismissed as a joke. Not because it wasn't sexist but because it was small fry in comparison to the current kidnappings in Nigeria, world starvation and, child abuse and that we shouldn't be offended by a novelty item whilst these other things going on.

I would offer a counter opinion: we should be offended by a novelty gag because these other terrible things are going on. I would also pose that a sexist novelty ball gag (and my offence) are not a separate issue from Nigerian kidnappings, starvation and child abuse (and my horror). They are linked, and fighting one is part of fighting the whole.