Saturday, April 05, 2008

17 years is not an excuse.

Today's soundtrack:
In Rainbows by Radiohead.

Interesting few days on the Prairies. This video has been making the rounds. Current Tory MP Tom Ludiwski and SaskParty Premier Brad Wall have both apologised for the homophobic and ethnic slurs - although they attempt to contextualise the film by saying that it's almost 17 years old and that, somehow, intolerance was more acceptable almost 17 years ago.

17 years ago was 1991. In 1993, Philadelphia came out. It's not like homophobia and heterosexism wasn't on the radar. 1991 marked the end of the Soviet Union. The Eastern Bloc had collapsed and there was near universal understanding of the dire economic and social issues facing Ukraine. I was knee-high to a grasshopper, but I still remember the sense of desperation implicit in the images broadcast on the news. While during the 1960s Ukrainians in Saskatchewan were still viewed as inferior, Archie Bunker managed to blow apart the ethnic stereotyping facing Eastern European immigrants during the 1970s on All in the Family. Point is, 17 years ago wasn't that long ago. 17 years is not an excuse.

But what has bothered me most about this video is the sexism that runs throughout. From the cameraman asking why the two women working on the computer weren't sitting in each other's laps, to telling a woman she was "missing something" (breasts) on her chest and asking another woman to undo one of her buttons (as she was wearing a sweatshirt, this proved impossible). The reactions of the women are interesting. Either a) they agree with their objectification or b) they are used to the sexual innuendo and harassment and find it easier to put up and shut up rather than draw attention to the asinine behaviour of the future MP and Saskatchewan Premier. Either way, the shocking aspect for me is the acceptance of this sexist behaviour. Last time I checked, 1991 was after the Second Wave movement of the 1970s.

I get the fact they were drunk. I get the fact they were celebrating a debate that hadn't happened yet. I get the fact that they were probably all friends as well as fellow campaigners. What bothers me is the lack of respect shown not only to the LBGT and Ukrainian communities, but also to women.

And for some reason, that's the one aspect that the media refuses to talk about.

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