Thursday, 11 February 2016

Thin skinned

I'm all in favour of giving people the respect they deserve, whether they be men, women, black, white, gay, straight, British, non-British, or whatever. Why should anyone be insulted or ignored or seen as inferior? We're all human beings and we should all be treated decently.

At the same time, I do think a lot of people are getting absurdly thin-skinned to real or imagined slights, permanently irate at this or that supposed verbal outrage, unable to shrug their shoulders, wonder at the speaker's clumsiness or cluelessness and move on.

Maybe it's because I'm pretty impervious to insults myself that I see others as over-sensitive, but even so, I'm amazed at what seems to be one storm in a teacup after another.

Northern Ireland politician is alleged to have said he was "scared out of his wits" when compared to First Minister Arlene Foster. He's also alleged to have said "I'm brilliant with women under the age of eight and great with those over the age of 80 - it's the ones in between I can't cope with."

This has caused a huge row, with two official complaints by other parties, another politician saying he showed contempt for women, and a flurry of abusive comments on social media.

But someone else defended him, saying "He was not offensive to anybody, he was having a go at himself."

Precisely. To my mind, he's simply saying he has problems relating to women. Hardly outrageous, and hardly rampant misogyny. It's not exactly unusual for men to have problems relating to women. It's also not unusual for women to have problems relating to men. So why such a ridiculous fuss?

I'm all for appropriate censure over genuine, clear-cut insults. But on many occasions somewhat ambiguous comments are taken out of context, given unintended meanings, and treated with self-righteous grandiosity, when the most sensible response would be "Who cares? What does it matter?"

Surely we're all grown up enough to take a few iffy remarks on the chin, not get our nappies in a knot but just get on with our lives?

31 comments:

Wisewebwoman said...

Disagree with you. Of course. I agree that the man needs help, I mean seriously he can't get on with 50% of the human race? Massive defect in anyone, major defect in a pol.

This gendrification of humans must stop. My worn out soapbox.

/rant.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: If anyone said he needed psychiatric help, there'd be a complaint about that as well! But you're right, he could probably do with some appropriate therapy. It seems to me he's admitting his personal failings rather than insulting women. After all, he's not saying it's women's fault he can't relate to them.

Nick said...

In a Belfast Telegraph poll, 59% say the remarks were offensive, 41% say they weren't.

Dave Martin said...

No idea about who this fella is or the situation you refer to, but I know one thing - people need to get over themselves and stop being offended at the slightest little thing. Sticks and stones and all that.....

Nick said...

Dave: He's a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Re sticks and stones, I think words can hurt as well, but it seems to me the words in this case are pretty trivial. He's simply saying he doesn't get on with women - like many other gender-bound males. Hardly a hanging offence.

Bijoux said...

I've been coming across many articles on this topic. Apparently, many American comedians (Jerry Seinfeld is one) refuse to perform on college campuses anymore because everything is considered offensive to college kids. How crazy is that? I wish I could say I don't believe it, but I have noticed that my own son thinks things are 'offensive' when in reality, it's fact.

Nick said...

Bijoux: There's a lot of controversy over supposedly "offensive" activities on British campuses as well. Offensive guest speakers, offensive statues, offensive novels even. It's getting quite surreal. As you say, what's considered offensive may be just a fact of life.

Keith Smith said...

It's laughable when you try to talk about things you don't understand.
I bet you feel offended now, eh?

Helen Devries said...

Gives people a chance to get on their pet soapbox and bore the rest of us to tears.

carolyn said...

The fact that he is a public figure and thinks it's cute that he has trouble with the little ladies says a lot about him. The old wink, wink, nudge, nudge. It was a slam. I join WWW on the soapbox. But what do I know, in the US we have a real joker in Donald Trump.

Carolyn

CheerfulMonk said...

I'm not offended, but I wouldn't vote for someone who was that incompetent.

Nick said...

Keith: How dare you. I'm putting in an official complaint, and I demand that you withdraw your defamatory remarks and apologise.

Helen: The other parties are on their soapbox all right, trying to make out they're whiter than white.

Nick said...

Carolyn: If he was saying that women nowadays are demanding and self-confident and he finds that hard to deal with, well, that's something he needs to work on. But I still don't see that it calls for such a pompous furore.

I'm watching the rise and rise of Donald Trump with stunned bewilderment.

Jean: It's certainly an issue if his problems with women mean he can't do his job properly, but as far as I know there's no sign of that. Apart from his hard-line religious views of course.

Nick said...

Carolyn: I take your point that he thinks he's being cute. But I don't think attempted cuteness is a hanging offence either.

Keith Smith said...

Me? Apologize? I'll see you in "The Dirty Onion" first before I do anything like that!! So there!

Nick said...

Keith: The Dirty Onion, huh? I assume you don't mean the Belfast restaurant. Just watch your language, young man.

Keith Smith said...

I do mean the restaurant in Belfast. Whenever I visit my cousin there we always go to the Onion. Her treat!

tammy j said...

love your last two lines! LOL
and I'd never heard what bijoux said about jerry seinfeld.
good grief!
is everybody walking around with a colossal chip on their shoulder?
although we DO seem to be living in an era when half the people feel free to say anything they want... whether hurtful or untrue...
and the other half are right there ready to take offense at the slightest ridiculous comment!
wow...
where then does that leave you and me and all the rest of your esteemed commenters? LOLOL. we don't make the percentages.
it's like the pendulum swings too far in both ways.
and would I ever love to sit in a booth or at a table nearby at the dirty onion and hear you and keith. :)

Nick said...

Keith: I didn't know you had a cousin in Belfast. In that case, we'll have to meet up some day.

Tammy: I think there are a lot of people with chips on their shoulders. People with long-standing grudges and victim complexes. They need to wake up and smell the coffee. You're right about the loose-talkers versus the delicate flowers, with people like us in the middle, scratching our heads in puzzlement.

Keith Smith said...

Like you, she and her husband were disillusioned with living in England.
I'll contact you the next time I go to see them, probably in the Summer; if we have one this year!

Nick said...

Keith: Okay!

kylie said...

well i haven't heard the comment and admittedly I'm unsure of context but it sounds to me like one of those mildly derogatory comments, along the lines of "women are confusing and i couldnt possibly try to understand because they are just women"
It's not offensive but it would reduce my view of the guy

Nick said...

Kylie: That's roughly what I thought. I can't see that it's seriously offensive. His remarks say more about him than they do about women - if he has problems relating to women, that's a reflection on his own lack of sensitivity and empathy.

Liz Hinds said...

I would have taken that comment as a joke. The trouble is that for people in the public eye especially it seems that they have to be ultra careful. I say things all the time that I would be lambasted for if I were anyone 'important'.

Nick said...

Liz: Very true. If you're a public figure, people jump on you at the slightest opportunity, and you have to be super-cautious over what you say. And always check if the microphone's still on!

kylie said...

He probably meant it as a joke but it minimises half the population so, not. really. funny.

Nick said...

Kylie: I still think it says more about him than it does about women. Clearly women are beyond the poor chap's comprehension.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I think its impossible to tell just from that statement whether he was taking a shot at women or himself (or both). But if he "can't deal" with half his constituents, he ought to step down.

Nick said...

Agent: Yes, it's hard to judge his target when he hasn't amplified his statements in any way. But presumably his constituents think he deals with their problems okay, even if they happen to be women. He's been a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for 33 years, so I guess he must be doing something right!

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

I'm sure that sometimes it's justified Nick but there is much sensitivity nowadays. XXXX

Nick said...

Jacqueline: Sensitivity has become over-sensitivity and people blow a fuse over the oddest things. And they often read the worst possible meaning into ambiguous remarks.