Ramsay’s attack was many things, but it wasn’t sexist
Here’s an oldie but a goody: Why do women wear makeup and perfume? Because they are ugly and they stink.
Some would say that joke, like Gordon Ramsay’s behaviour in recent days, is pretty offensive. But that personal favourite differs from the celebrity chef on two important fronts.
The first difference is arguably it’s funny. The second is obviously it’s sexist.
While Ramsay’s behaviour over the weekend in which he insulted Tracy Grimshaw by likening her to a pig - both of the real and Muppet variety - was offensive, uncalled for and perhaps worst of all unfunny it wasn’t sexist.
It was rude, crude and smutty. In other words, it was his usual schtick. It was just the sort of behaviour that anyone who has stuck a microphone under his nose in recent years, including those from Channel Nine, has hoped to bring forth.
Just 12 short months ago Grimshaw’s stablemates Karl Stefanovic and Lisa Wilkinson on the Today Show laughed their way through an interview with Ramsay during which he swore and joked about waking up to Wilkinson on TV with a “6am riser’’.
Hell, Stefanovic even got in on the act imploring Ramsay not to show the viewers his “Yorkshire pudding’’ when the Scot lifted his shirt to display his stomach. This week they tut-tutted away in earnest and completely understandable support of Grimshaw who I have no doubt was deeply upset by the weird sledging by Ramsay.
It would be mortifying for any woman to be compared with a pig and made the butt of vicious jokes in front of 3000 people. But it doesn’t make it sexist. It would be mortifying for any man too.
If anything Ramsay is an equal opportunity abuser. He appears to draw no gender distinction when he offends.
His seven-minute guest spot on Rove McManus was spent trading insults, with Ramsay focussing on the host’s diminutive stature and suggesting that he therefore must have a tiny penis.
He called Jamie Oliver fat and was even more disparaging about the surviving Fat Lady Clarissa Wright. Not an eyelid was bat.
Yet after Ramsay’s efforts on Saturday at the Melbourne Good Food and Wine Show, Women’s Forum Australia’s Melinda Tankard Reist categorised his remarks as sexist and demeaning, remarks I’m assuming she didn’t hear first hand, and offensive to every Australian woman.
“He shouldn’t be making money through the verbal abuse of women,’’ she said. He makes money through the verbal abuse of everyone.
Far more sexist was the comment by David Jones’s boss Mark McInnes when Australia somehow avoided slipping in to a recession that “women can only stop shopping for so long’’.
Yes it was delivered tongue-in-cheek and therefore no harm done. But when you get down to it he essentially stereotyped all women as ditsy shopaholics who still need a new handbag and shoes no matter what that silly old economy thingo is doing.
All Ramsay needed was more secure tongue placement then perhaps he could have avoided Prime Minister Kevin Rudd labeling him a “lowlife’. It is a credit to the busy beaver PM that despite more pressing issues like recession, realised or not, cabinet reshuffles and international claims of racism, he still managed to get suitably across what is essentially a celebrity slanging match to deliver such insightful insights.
At least deputy PM Julia Gillard had the decency to be funny in her criticism of Ramsay suggesting he should get back in the kitchen where he belongs. Humour is another thing Ramsay could have done with. You can get away with almost anything if you’re funny. Just ask those Chaser boys.
If publicly deriding a woman’s looks is sexist then what do we make of the way everyone has treated Susan Boyle. The hook of her story was how a never-been kissed spinster so unattractive - sorry make that frumpy/dowdy/down-to-earth - had such a beautiful voice she captured the heart of a nation. Even A Current Affair described Boyle as a woman “a long way from glamourous … with eyebrows to scare small children’’. No claims of sexism there.
Ramsay could also be forgiven for thinking his antics acceptable at Nine given this is the network that employs Sam Newman and still can’t work out what to do with Matthew Johns.
He deserves most of the criticism that has come his way in recent days but labelling Ramsay’s comments sexist seem like a desperate grab for relevance from the hairy armpit brigade which thankfully has less and less to whinge about these days.
His comments were about as sexist as farewelling outgoing Telstra boss Sol Trujillo with an “adios’’ was racist.
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