Even someone who writes for the Telegraph thinks it’s bad and revealing that people are saying Tim Hunt did nothing wrong. Cathy Newman is a presenter for Channel 4 News and she thinks the “nothing wrong” claim is full of wrong.
[A] week after the pro-Hunt bandwagon really started to gather speed, broadcaster and writer Jonathan Dimbleby has leapt aboard and resigned his honorary fellowship at University College London in protest at its treatment of the Nobel prize-winning scientist.
He’s in illustrious company. The mayor of London Boris Johnson and fellow scientist Richard Dawkins have already publicly accused Sir Tim’s critics of a gross over-reaction.
So have Brian Cox and Brendan O’Neill.
Notice something? They’re all pale men – they’re all immune from the kind of casual contempt that Hunt expressed at that lunch, whether as a joke or not. They all have that in common with Tim Hunt, and all of them including Hunt do not have in common with their women colleagues the handicap of being subject to constant everyday sexism.
It surprises me how many high-profile and highly intelligent men – and some women – seem to think a sexist joke about women crying and falling in love with their professional colleagues is just a bit of fun.
While Sir Tim did make clear he meant his comments in jest – something which was overlooked in the initial reporting of the incident – he has fessed up to being a “chauvinist pig”, and lest Dimbleby et al forget, he’s also insisted that some of his remarks were meant in all seriousness, while others were ‘misinterpreted’.
“I did mean the part about having trouble with girls,” he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
And either way, joke or not joke, it’s still dismissive and belittling.
Dimbleby, Johnson and Dawkins would surely never dare to weigh-in on behalf of someone who’d cracked a racist gag.
So why is it still OK to be a little bit sexist – and Sir Tim has admitted as such – when society quite rightly has zero tolerance for other forms of discrimination?
Politicians who say something racist are immediately shown the door.
If sexism is their crime on the other hand, a raised eyebrow appears to suffice.
That comparison shouldn’t be pushed too far, because it’s horrifyingly easy to flip it – to cite ways in which racism is ignored while sexism isn’t. But still, when it comes to certain kinds of casual everyday discourse, people who wouldn’t dream of babbling into a microphone about their “troubles with black people” have no such inhibition when it comes to talking about…girls.
while wise-cracking men are tolerated, the women who call out sexism face a torrent of abuse for doing so.
The woman who brought Sir Tim’s remarks to public attention, British academic Connie St Louis, has since faced a right-wing smear campaign about her own CV.
No doubt simply writing this blog will earn me the “feminazi” badge again.
Can’t we take a joke? Yes of course we can. It’s just that what Sir Tim said wasn’t particularly funny.
Well, that plus the fact that it was casually sexist.