Update on my struggles with big corporate….
Four weeks ticked over last Thursday and still waiting for Vodafone. In the meantime, they have admitted to me that lots of other people are waiting too. The problem is a queue! This is evidently a profit thing – poor customer service and too few staff reduce costs. Disgraceful. Last message from customer service was that I have been treated very badly by them. Go figure.
Stop Press. I have just received the phone call from Vodafone. They are coming next Friday (5 weeks and 2 days). I guess I should be thankful for small mercies. I am looking forward to a discussion about compensation (don’t get mad, get even).
Racism and the women’s magazine
I have never been a fan of women’s magazines. I am a book-lover and my trusty Kindle accompanies me everywhere. However, the other day in an airport lounge I picked up a free copy of the Women’s Day out of curiosity. And this blog was born…
Apart from Meghan Markle, who is portrayed not as a black woman but a naughty and haughty anti-royalist who cannot get on with the Royal Family, there was not a person of colour in sight. The racism that Meghan Markle is faced with comes generally in a reasonably subtle form – perhaps it even fits the definition of unconscious bias? But it is defined by the three big discourses – gender, race and class. It reminded me of the power of the British elite which is so prominently on show at the cricket ground Lord’s, where the members prance around in their orange and yellow ties and blazers, mainly old and plump and so sure of themselves. I did spot a few younger members there this time – boys with upper class haircuts (you know that Eton look with the fringe falling over the tall smooth forehead). Jolly Boris J etc.
In the WWD the world is white and rich/famous and dressed in designer clothes. Women want to get married and get a ‘baby bump’. People have babymoons, FFS. They spend all their time on the beach to show off their miraculous bodies, still so firm after all these years! Except when they have a bump to display, of course. Not a wrinkle in sight.
I picked up three noxious themes out of this one issue. The first, not surprisingly, is a prurient interest in (white except Meghan) people who are completely unknown to most of us. Poor old Meghan Markle gets the worst of this. She is portrayed as highly demanding, creating rifts (especially between the brother Princes and/ or Kate). The issue I read used ‘body language experts’ to demonstrate that Kate and Meghan just don’t get on, and what a scandal that is! They are apparently supposed to spend every second together making good eye contact and laughing at little jokes.
Their past lives, different personalities, massively different experiences and so on must apparently be shed at the door and the women must be close for the sake of… I dunno – the WWD readers, or their husbands, or the institution of the Royal Family? Apparently, things have got to such a pass that the Queen Will Have to Step In to quell the bad factional behaviour of her grandsons. OMG pass the puke bag.
Then there is the focus on so-called celebrities, including actors, reality TV people and women whose fame is in being famous. And it is all about their looks and their relationships, especially with a man (I can’t remember any LBGTQ persons in this issue, so perhaps can add heterosexual-except-for-Ellen to the list of participants).
The second theme can be summarised as: ‘Good Women Stand By their Man’. This also includes the sub-themes that ‘good women have to look their best at all times’ and ‘good women should spend a fortune on hair and face products’. Good women are white and have blonde hair (usually) (except Kate and Meghan) (but Saint Diana was definitely blonde), slip out babies while having their nails done, can probably cook up a storm and knows a designer dress at 20 paces.
There is not much talk about their work. They are true forces of nature, and so old-fashioned in their devoted love for their men. Who are these paragons?
Then there is the third category. They cheat or are cheated upon, or are oppressed as a result of man trouble, or, and this is shocking, they may have got fat or thrown out a wrinkle. See diet recipes on p. 98 or health tips thereafter. Oh thou fallen women!
The perfect woman in the WWD is tiny, blonde, dressed in latest designer gear and married harmoniously to a decorative and rich husband, preferably with a royal title. She may have a ‘cause’ but this is sick children or homeless pets, not the unseemly side of inequality, poverty and race politics. She loves everyone and everyone loves her. It is like a fairy tale. And it is a fairy tale, quite a damaging and destructive one. Do not read this magazine.
Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society. She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.