Nov 5, 2010

Really, Stephen.

A celebrity (much loved and admired by many, among whom this blogger is happy to count herself) opened his trap in front of a journalist and said something ineffably stupid on a subject of which he has no personal experience whatsoever. So far, so dog bites man.

Where it gets interesting is where said celbrity dedicated the length of a flight to LA and the best part of 3,000 words to explaining how, despite the fact that it was demonstrably his own mouth, operating under no immediate duress, that said this ineffably stupid thing, none of it is his fault at all in any way.

Somebody not a million miles removed from said celebrity once said (in conversation with Nigel Lawson, if memory serves) that self pity is the most unattractive of all personality traits. I've lived my life a little by that maxim ever since, because it seemed like such a good one.

The keenest disappointment I feel about the past week, therefore, is that rather than taking one's foot out of one's mouth, dusting oneself off and thinking of some good jokes about the whole sorry business, we're being treated to justifications, apologia, contextualisation and Twitter twantrums.

I don't believe that Stephen Fry (my adored, admired Stephen Fry, the only man ever to have been granted a - theoretical - pass to my ovaries) holds the ridiculous, unjustifiable, and common opinion as that women are unable enjoy sex.

I do not need to believe, however, that this episode has contributed to shoring up this hateful stereotype - that is a demonstrable fact. The authority of Uncle Stephen will be forever adding its weight to it, whether in common pub banter or in more sinister rape apology and victim blaming scenarios.

The supposedly instrumental nature of women's sexuality - the lie that we only ever "give over" or "put out" in order to get something, like money or commitment, that we withold it as "punishment", "give it away" to another as revenge, dangle it in front of a man in order to manipulate him, "pussy whip" him with it for control - is a central tenet of the most terrifyingly mysoginist attitudes.

It would be reassuring to think that Stephen Fry cared at least a smidgeon as much about that as he does about his outrage at being “misunderstood”. Yet, not much in the way of discussion of this in the whole 3,000 words.

Maybe a blog post on the flight back, eh?

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad to read this. I too love Stephen Fry, and I too was gob smacked and, well, hurt not only that he said these things, but that he went on to defend them. It always hurts just a little more coming from a man who is a minority (homosexual, for instance) and really just OUGHT TO BLOODY KNOW BETTER.