The difference between banter and prejudice

by Big Fidge

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

I was going to ask the missus what she thought about the Sky Sports sexism row – but I didn’t want to distract her from the ironing.
A decidedly sexist opening gambit, but one that I am confident will not see me barred from Dexy’s Den.
The reason being, this is a joke based on an old stereotyped image of a women’s role in family life and conjured up specifically for this post. It is not – and never has been – my personally held belief.
Herein lies the difference between banter and not just sexism, but prejudice as a whole.
I do not believe my wife should stay at home cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing, while I go out and earn a crust.
In fact, we both work, we share the cooking and cleaning, I do most of the washing and, to be honest, very little gets ironed these days. In our house, we’re equal.
As an employer, my company has a pretty equal percentage of women and men throughout its structure.
My joke – if you can even call it that – is potentially offensive to one person – my wife – and I for a fact she will not be offended by it.

Let’s compare that to Richard Keys and Andy Gray. Having listened several times to the recording, it is clear that there comments are not made in jest.
They believe that Sian Massey should not be officiating the match for the sole reason that she is a woman, and no woman, not just Ms Massey, should be allowed to do the job.
There is anger and disdain in their voices, not jest or humour. They believe she should not be there. They believe she will make a mistake. They believe that Kenny Dalglish will ‘go potty’ when he finds out.
Howard Webb, Mike Dean, Mike Riley, Mark Halsey and their refereeing cohorts in the Premier League have been criticised by hundreds of fans and pundits alike this season (and many previous). Not once has anyone said ‘he got that wrong because he’s a man’.
Massey was accused of not being up to the job because she was a woman – and before the game had even kicked off. Thankfully, not only did she not make an error in the match, she did make a top drawer onside decision that so-called experts questioned before seeing a replay.
That’s not banter, that’s prejudice based on gender.
Not only that, it was offensive to her and other women in the game.
Ron Atkinson describing Marcel Desailly as an ‘f****** lazy thick n*****’ was not banter, it was prejudice based on race.
All were rightly disciplined for airing their personal prejudices in public (making their views audible to others makes it public, not being broadcast on television).
Gray’s comment to his colleague Charlotte Jackson was not banter, it was – by definition – harassment, based on gender. It’s seems that is why he lost his job.

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