Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

Anyone For an M&S boycott? May 31, 2009

Filed under: gender,jobs — Jender @ 1:05 pm

Update: The commenters have convinced me that the word ‘boycott’ above should be replaced with ‘rant’. I guess all the marking put me in a bad and intolerant mood. (That and the sense of betrayal: they *do* have lovely fair trade T-shirts.)

Marks and Spencer Chair Stuart Rose:

He said: “Apart from the fact that you’ve got more equality than you ever can deal with, the fact of the matter is that you’ve got real democracy and there are really no glass ceilings, despite the fact that some of you moan about it all the time….He told the newspaper: “I mean, what else do you want to do, for God’s sake? Women astronauts. Women miners. Women dentists. Women doctors. Women managing directors. What is it you haven’t got?…He rejected the suggestion that working mothers face greater challenges in the workplace.
“Well, childbirth is a biological fact. Women have children; I can’t help that,” he said.
“But I know lots of women who’ve got two or three kids – Nicola Horlick is a good example – there are many girls in here who’ve got two kids who come to work.”

For more, see here. Thanks, Nicola!

I mean, is a recession REALLY a good time to insult half of your customer base?

 

9 Responses to “Anyone For an M&S boycott?”

  1. Seagull Says:

    Oh dear, this is a major dilemma for me, as someone who has subsisted on M&S batchelor meals for many years. This outrageous behaviour clearly calls for a boycott of M&S, but that means I’ll either have to starve, or learn to cook! I don’t know which is worse!

  2. jj Says:

    That’s a terrible dilemma, Seagull. It strikes me that there’s a more benign way of reading it. Here are two things one could say in its favor:
    (1) MAYBE in part he’s drawing on his own behavior and falsely generalizing from it. He does have girls (sic) with children in very high level positions.
    (2) Even though his statement about no glass ceilings is false, we might be getting to a point where such statements start to act like imperative, as opposed to descriptions. (I can certainly imagine it could be very useful to have someone saying some of these things in a department that is reluctant to hire women. “Of course, women can be leaders in physics.”)

    Well, that’s the best I can do. Unfortunately, in my experience what happens next is that some explanation is offered for why, nonetheless, there are many fewer or no women, and the explanation is invariably based on a view that holds women back.

  3. Jender Says:

    I kind of think the whole “moan about it” thing counts out any favourable reading. Sorry, Seagull. Waitrose has very nice ready-meals too…

  4. jj Says:

    Jender, yes, I agree, on the one hand. But the tone struck me as one that one might hear from a father who really wants his daughter to get to the top and not concentrate on the obstacles. I think that’s not especially good advice, but I don’t think it’s malign or bigoted.

    Mind you, on the same page over to the right there’s a report on the glass ceiling effect. And of course, Rose is probably culpably ignorant of the real world.

  5. jj Says:

    And, of course, one should add: if he’s trying to sound like the tough father encouraging his daughter, that might be considered by definition paternalitic.

  6. dana Says:

    Or perhaps he really just doesn’t understand. He gives clear examples for why he doesn’t get it–examples that are, after all, truthful. A boycott isn’t going to help here. Perhaps patient explanation would work better.

    I know it’s frustrating, but outrage isn’t always called for, and in some cases is counterproductive.

    I’m sure this will be a terribly unpopular opinion, but it needs to be said.

  7. Jender Says:

    As noted above, I freely concede that a bad mood due to marking may have led me to extremism. However, I am kind of startled by the *extent* to which people seem willing to be forgiving of Rose. I mean, most people who say awful things genuinely don’t understand the truth. And Rose seems very contemptuously unwilling to listen to those trying to make him aware of the truth. Isn’t that pretty darned culpable?

  8. extendedlp Says:

    when one’s fortune depends on the sales of a clothing item that’s totally superfluous, culturally-driven yet mostly unseen by others, one ought to be more deferential to one’s sales base. it just seems like bad business to be a caveman.

  9. jj Says:

    Jender, I think I was caught up in an excess of good feeling. I did keep coming back eventually to the negative things about it, or trying to. I am starting a long sabbatical and a lot of things are looking better than they might.

    More seriously, I think that I hear and deal with so much worse. He does revoltingly seem to suppose that of course he and his kind would never discriminate, but others go on to conclude that either woman can’t succeed at all OR that woman don’t succeed because they make all the wrong choices about, e.g., having children. As though the only right choices suitable for success are ones that make one’s life look like a 1950’2 man. I think that’s really worse, though of course his view – it’s down to you girls – is itself an obstacle to the change we need.

    I didn’t think you were too negative.


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