Calm Down, Dear – and Why I Won’t


DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 29JAN10 - David Cameron, Le...

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This isn’t really a social work specific lesson although it helps, it’s something that comes in handy in all professions.

You give respect, you receive respect. Sometimes it can be a bit more complex and sometimes you work with people from whom you can never be expected to get that respect back from – because of underlying attitudes or because of personalities but it doesn’t matter too much – water off the back and you continue to treat those whom you come into contact with with respect.

It doesn’t hurt and you have to have a bit of a thick skin.

There are many of these reciprocal ‘lessons’. Never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself is one that draws me back to my work, pre-qualification, as a care assistant. Don’t place someone in a care home you wouldn’t be happy to place your parent/child in. That can be more problematic because the supply and demand are not equivalent and sometimes geography limits the choice of residential care settings but I do think it is the best point to start from at the very least.

Provide services that you would want for yourself or your (insert close family/friend) would want. It’s fairly basic stuff.

So I think it indicates some of my discomfort about Cameron’s ‘calm down, dear’ moment in the House of Commons yesterday but more broadly, the level of banter and conviviality in Parliament that seems to replicate an  poor debating society for under 16s in a private school.

Sexist? Probably but did we ever think he was anything but? Intentionally so? No, I don’t think so. It’s the kind of talk and ‘rebuttal’ that comes naturally.

Disrespectful? Absolutely. It was a put down intended to diminish the speaker to whom it was addressed. That is more of my objection. Whether the person he was talking to was male or female, it is the kind of patronising tosh I don’t want to hear from a Prime Minister, although  I do think there is an agenda to diminish the sexist aspect and write off women who may be offended as ‘not being able to take a joke’ which  even further demeans those who might be offended by his comments or worse, use the feminist label to somehow make itself equivalent to having ‘no sense of humour’.

Honestly, if that is the level of humour that I should be chortling about, I’m very happy to be labelled as just ‘not getting it’ in favour of being a very proud feminist.

And how would you react if your manager said that to you? Well, not very positively. I know I wouldn’t.

Perhaps it is the ‘cut and thrust’ of the House of Commons? Lame response. As one of the people who doesn’t necessarily ‘enjoy’ the adversarial and frankly, childish response of our politicians waving and cheering like sheep in a  herd, I find it hard to understand the appeal of this rambunctiousness.  Oh, it’s tradition? Well, change it.

It is an indication that behaviour in the House of Commons follows a clear path from their schooldays. It is an attitude that automatically appeals to a certain type, and yes, a certain ‘class’ of person who feels comfortable in an environment where respect is a far distant imagination.

It is a work environment that encourages pieces like this in the Daily Telegraph. Seriously. Oh, what? I was supposed to find this ignorant and childish ‘blog’ by a major ‘quality’ newspaper which puts a little red ring around the breasts of a female MP and asks readers to ‘guess whose boobs these are?’ funny? Smacks of harassment to me. It actually sickens me.

Yes, sure, say I have ‘no sense of humour’ if that is your recourse but what kind of society condones this as humour? Not one I feel comfortable in and is ‘having a sense of humour’ so important that it can bypass respect, well, I’m happy to lack one.

Cameron talks of jokes and throw-away remarks but what he and the Daily Telegraph display is a lack of respect that he has probably never been party to by virtue of his position. The view of George Osborne laughing heartily at David Cameron’s intensely patronising ‘joke’ makes me realise how detached these politicians are from the reality of life in the UK at the moment.

We get the politicians we deserve though. That’s the tragedy. I just think we can do a whole lot better than these who seem to make a mockery of the political class of which they are members.

8 thoughts on “Calm Down, Dear – and Why I Won’t

  1. I would wish that some of your fellow social workers in my area of the country would read and learn from your excellent post because they t heir clients in the same way as the prime minister treated his colleague

  2. OMG, I am always (and still) amazed at the depths to which politicians (and how I wish I could claim ours were so much better, but…) will sink just to make a point. Which is a stupid point anyway. I have no idea to what Mr. Cameron was responding to with his “calm down, dear” comment but it does fill me with the desire to slap him upside the head. Repeatedly. (And I’m typically non-violent!)

  3. I’m fairly sure I remember Random Advice (apologies, but I’ve decided to rename David Cameron!) spouting before the last General Election about the way he would ensure that debate in the House of Commons was uplifted to a higher level! Well, if that’s what he considers to be uplifting – I’m sure it’s only indicative of yet another one of his broken promises.

    The language that has emanated from the Conservative part of the Coalition has been disgusting over recent months, with descriptions of people in need accompanied by words that should not come from the mouths of our so-called elected representatives. He and Osborne and others have targeted the weak, the young, the elderly, the poor, and the vulnerable with all their cuts. Now he’s about to abuse women as well???!!! Just because a woman had the balls to correct his mistake.

    For him to have shown such disregard and disrespect for a colleague (regardless of gender) is beyond belief. It was a bully boy tactic that just demonstrated his total arrogance. If only Angela Eagle’s colleagues had all stood up and left the chamber, en masse – that would have made a great spectacle, and shown the contempt that I now have for the Prime Minister.

    He should be ashamed of himself. I hope he gets what he deserves – a thrashing behind the bikesheds, which is about his level. I’ll be first in the queue with a hefty bike chain …. …

    Did anybody notice the way Nick Clegg’s left arm sank to the floor almost, in utter disbelief and amazement at the cheap jibe that Random Advice uttered? Clegg was more than poker-faced afterwards.

    We do get what we deserve, I agree, but we didn’t elect this bunch!

  4. Good article that sums up what I’ve been thinking. Plus you have pinpointed why feminism gets (unfairly) a bad reputation. Societal attitudes need to change and this includes politicians who are not exempt just because of the posiiton they hold.

  5. Thanks for all the comments 🙂

    Sue – I agree
    Carolyn – it was a female economics spokesman from the opposition party.
    Care in the UK – I did notice the Clegg reaction and the Osbourne chortling
    RC – exactly (and thanks for dropping by :))
    wiggyhug – I so agree!

  6. It drives me crazy when people bring up the “sense of humor” argument. Aside from the fact that those type of jokes demean us all as people–they’re not funny. They’re lazy. “Make me a sandwich.” Oh my, you’ve certainly put me in my place with that witty social commentary.

    They only thing that angers me more than sexism, is un-funny people who think they’re hilarious.

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