Feminist Philosophers

News feminist philosophers can use

WOOW! February 8, 2011

Filed under: ageing,appearance,bias,comedy,funny business,gender — jj @ 5:23 pm

Watch Out for Old Women:

 

25 Responses to “WOOW!”

  1. hippocampa Says:

    I love how those three punks take no chances and run away from all that fury!

  2. ravi dutta Says:

    the face of that brave lady has been hidden.for whom 2 clap?

  3. jj Says:

    I was surprised, ravi. Apparently they do not have her permission to show her face. Maybe she does not want to be a celebrity. Hey, WOOW!

    Hippocampa, clearly the idea is to avoid any altercations. You know, just a quiet snatch and go.

  4. j Says:

    Atta girl!!! Show ‘em not to mess with us old ladies!!!! We got nothing to lose, and we’re pissed off already!

  5. j Says:

    And who is the wimp that stood there taking video and didn’t lift a finger to help the “old lady”? Some man, no doubt…..grumble grumble

  6. emeritus Says:

    The “wimp” is probably her son….
    Incidentally, on US TV they used the Benny Hill theme for the background music.

  7. emeritus Says:

    Remembering the heroic school board handbag-wielding lady and seeing this, women should be advised to choose their handbags (and contents) carefully (Jender and j?)

  8. This is great.

    What really bothers me, however, is the seemingly belittling/sensationalistic/cartoonish manner of the accompanying music and narrative/voice-over with which many people, places, organizations, etc. are presenting this clip; part of this complaint is the use of the Benny Hill theme for background music that emeritus points out in comment number 6. The version here contains music from the 1970′s television series “Wonder Woman”. Does music from television series such as the 1970′s “The Six Million Dollar Man” usually accompany similar clips involving a man instead of a woman?

    My memory does not recall comparable belittling music and such accompanying display of cartoonish/unrealistic elements in many or most similar clips of courage and protection performed by men. Another stupid double standard, it seems to me. When a female performs such as an act, many people depict it as some sort of circus act (or cartoon or unrealistic television show). When a male performs such an act, many people depict it for the courage and protection that it contains/exhibits.

    Awesome act/clip, but is anyone with me in wishing for a different narrative/presentation along the lines sketched above?

  9. Tina Says:

    I agree David.

    She is risking her life for goodness sake.

    The TV editors shallowly think ‘young men running away from old woman, how funny’ without realiy engaging with the reality of the situation, and her heroism. Very sad.

    Also sad, is that you only see people (including the camera person) running to her aid when the robbers run off, not when she is in the middle of confronting them.

    As for reports of some channels using the Benny Hill theme – I’m disgusted.

    Still, let us focus on her wonderful character, not on stupid TV editors

  10. Yes, indeed, Tina. Let us focus primarily and much more on her wonderful character (though I think some consciousness raising about the horrible sexism and double standards could be importantly worthy of note/some thought too – additional news reports I have seen turn the story into a comedy sketch as opposed to an act of heroism, strength, and bravery, for instance).

  11. Tina Says:

    Agreed. Let’s have a moan about the news coverage, and then make sure it is her who we learn from, and who lingers in the memory… :-)

  12. Ben A Says:

    NB: I am not an academic, nor am I well educated on the mechanism of sexism in our society. The following questions are sincere, but founded in my surprise at the commentary here.

    QUESTION ONE
    Should we condemn or celebrate the bigotry of the thieves?

    If it had been a hero or heroine the same age and dress as the thieves, would they have put up more fight? Could it be the ageism/sexism of the thieves made her defense of the shop successful? Or even class-ism based on voice or dress? Could this woman be using her status intentionally to foil the robbery?

    It seems to me that either the thieves had decided in advance how to respond to any resistance (poorly executed! but without bigotry) or they failed to plan on resistance and reacted impulsively and prejudice must be considered.

    QUESTION TWO
    How does our reaction speak to our own prejudices?

    (comment 8) implies that the media would use more heroic gravitas if the defender were male. I think it equally likely that one of the following presentation styles would be used:
    1) using a masculine TV series theme song like Superman, The A-Team, or The Greatest American Hero would have sounded just as cartoonish to my ears, especially if the defender was similarly aged. Could it be ageism in play here, not sexism?
    2) A grave tone, with warnings from official sources that such activity is dangerous, and ought not be attempted. “Leave the police work to the police!” It might be good advice, but certainly takes away from the heroic celebration of the clip.
    3) It would have been ignored. The clip is only on this blog, after all, because it *is* a female defender. (That may be unfair in the case of this blog, given its focus – but the point may be valid for other media outlets) It seems very likely that if the clip had not challenged expectations (i.e. stereotypes) in some way, it would not have been edited for TV, or it would not have been posted to youtube, or it would not have gone viral. In this, we all share some blame. What expectations would be challenged if the defender had been male? That people are basically spineless and fearful? Or, as ‘j’ points out in comment 5, that probably it’s men that are basically spineless and fearful.

    My personal prejudice is that most media are not interested in raising the consciousness of their audience, rather their interest is in exploiting the audience perspective (including positive or negative biases) for profit. Video clips are edited in sexist, ageist, or class-ist ways because of the prejudices of the *audience* as well as the producers.

    I look forward to any responses, which I will read with an open mind.

    -Ben

  13. Jender Says:

    Ben, interesting questions! I think it does seem right that the robbers’ prejudices were v. likely the reason that they ran away. I also agree played a big role in the reporting. It’s true that with an old man (if he looked frail enough) it would similarly have been played for laughs. But, as you say, the way that they’d do that would be somewhat different– age stereotypes and sex stereotypes are interacting here.

  14. elp Says:

    ben a, i think your concerns are reasonable ones. i’m not sure i see how their bigotry would’ve contributed to their response to her, but i do think we might worry how our response to it reflects as such. but i also think there are probably multiple stories to be told about our reaction to it, the media’s reaction and portrayal, and so on. for example, we might both be exhibiting bias in reacting the way we do, and at the same time be celebrating gender-norm transgression. (the benny hill thing it just ick. but that’s because benny hill is patently misogynist–unabashedly so.)

  15. j Says:

    I hope that all the surrounding publicity and media flap etc will serve to shame others into reacting to situations such as this and the gunman firing on the school board in the US. Do we old (and middle age) ladies have to do everything??!! Enough posturing already, fellas.

  16. jj Says:

    j, your reaction forms part of my sense too. But it is also a familiar idea that the older members of a population are doing a lot of ‘civilization control,’ especially the women.

    Yesterday was my heavy teaching day, so I haven’t had a chance to respond before now. And I’m restricted in time now, but let me try to make a few points.

    I tried to find a video without the music, but I don’t think one was on youtube then. In any case, this one is and it is in someways quite different:

    even though the words are the same.

    I think the thing that really struck me the most is the contrast between calling her a pensioner, which is standard British plain speak, and the repetitions of “lady.” It’s puzzling to me that a culture that calls a toilet a toilet still refers to women as ladies.

    Is the narrative sexist and demeaning or instead that irritating, distancing, whiny English irony? It did strike me in my last visit to Oxford that there was much less of the facade. I could comment on the cheese in the market without someone saying, “O course, madame, you can’t find cheese in the US, can you.?” Even so, this a culture that often looks not to be extremely warm and sympathetic. I asked my UK expert this morning if he thought the video was sexist and demeaning, and he said “No, it’s just british.”

    So that’s one set of interpretations. I couldn’t tell what wonder woman was doing. But she was one of the first TV depictions of really strong women.

    Anyway, I could say a lot more, but have to go to get to schedule my surgery, groan, groan. Torn menicus which has become an increasing source of pain. I can’t count on the leg to hold me up, which adds adds an unwelcome adventurousness to crossing a room.

  17. Jender Says:

    Oh no! Hope the surgery goes smoothly.

  18. jj Says:

    Thanj you Jender. I spent an incrediby long time on the pros and con with the doctor and the nurse. It turns that that while it is offocially no big deal, in fact recoery could take s weeks. That is not good for the middle of a semester. So we’re looking at how to delay it.

  19. jj Says:

    I want to add that while I tended to reguard it as an instance of run of the mill nastiness, and not sexist, I don’t thinkthere ‘s an obvious case here. I have gotten a lot from considering other approaches. I think I most agreed with elp.

    I am puzzled by the idea that the robbers or we ourselves are bringing biggotry to our understanding. I woulf like yo hear some more.

  20. Jender Says:

    I think the idea with the robbers is that they were so freaked out by a woman defying expectations that they couldn’t cope, and so ran. Which they wouldn’t have done with e.g. a young man.

  21. j Says:

    I agree with Jender (comment 21). I see no bigotry in the presentation – just the rather unique British humor that JJ’s colleague referred to!

    Good luck with the surgery. Although it is “minor” in that it “only” involves a knee, mobility-wise you will be a bit hampered. Don’t slack off on the physical therapy afterwards! We need you in good shape to help the rest of us weak ladies chase down would-be robbers and gunmen!

  22. Ben A Says:

    @jj. Jender has spoken the exact thought I had when I mentioned the robbers’ biases. Later I thought that it might have been the age or class (with dress or accent as the determiner) of the defending woman which played a bigger role in the yobs running off. I could imagine a very different outcome if she had been dressed in jeans and a hoodie or been yelling with the same accent as the thieves. (Of course, I don’t know what language difference actually existed – I’m just theorizing).

    Given that the thieves had blacked out the license plate of their scooter and they were using sledgehammers (which I’m guessing isn’t typical walking kit in Northampton!) I assume this was a planned theft attempt rather than some kind of impulsive decision. Is it too much to expect the thieves had a plan for interruptions?

    I also suggested that the woman may have had her own biases, and used her age/gender/class status as part of her strategy to stop the theft. I mean to say some of her anger may have been driven by her biases against “those typical good-for-nothing thugs that are ruining Britain!” If this had been a different group of thieves perhaps she would have been much less inclined to run down the street to intervene. She wasn’t just happening by, after all, but she thrust herself into a confrontation, which could have ended very, very, badly for her, even if the thieves did nothing more malicious than pushing her down onto the sidewalk!

    As for our own biases, as elp put it, there are several stories to tell! The video editing displays some biases, by deciding to play this for laughs, not as heroism on the front lines. I tried to be snarky at the expense of being clear: that editing decision is a judgement of the target audience. I don’t know what TV show first presented this; I dearly hope it wasn’t a news program that added a soundtrack. That just seems like a journalistic travesty! So was it some kind of daytime TV show? Oprah or Jerry Springer?

    But I wasn’t part of the target audience. I saw it on Facebook, because a friend posted a link to this blog. The video has gone viral – which means that I can’t blame the video editing on misogynistic video editors (not entirely). Even if they were misogynistic, even if they were trying to pander to their audience, they were successful – they were right about what grabs our attention! What does that say about us.

    What does it say about me? When I watched the video, I didn’t get offended at all by the Wonder Woman music (I didn’t even notice), nor by comically melodramatic narration. I thought the thieves reaction was bizarre – I worried in the moment that someone was going to get seriously hurt – even though the title of the link told me how the story ends. If one of the thieves had pulled a knife and hospitalized this woman, it would be major news that the crime had been captured on camera, during daylight, on the high street, and the title would have reflected that. Prepped as I was for a typical internet viral video, my standards of critical analysis (never high) were modulated down to oblivion. Why weren’t yours? Are you just over sensitive, or am I just oblivious?

  23. jj Says:

    Here’s some background. It looks as though she and the thieves may be fairly close in class; they could be related to neighbors of hers, I expect. And there were beating up a young lad, which is why she sprung into action.

    So why didn’t they hit her? I bet it was because she looks like their gran. You have to be very low life to hit your gran or someone like her. Besides, the thing was getting problematic. It was taking too long; the window/door covers were closing down, even the coppers were going to finish tea and show up.

  24. jj Says:

    J, I cannot see you as weak at all, but I think standing together against the barricades is a wonderful idea.

    The final problem with the operation now is that I would have to miss Foot’s memorial. Both knee operations and transatlantic flights have a small risk of blood clots, etc. Etc.

    My son has bravely volunteered to come with me to help. Not, of course, that he would otherwise be interested in a trip to England during his spring break. He can stay in college AND meet up with lots of my old friends who knew him as a baby. What’s not to like about that? :)


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