Why I’m not laughing at Godfrey Bloom

That Godfrey Bloom, he’s such a card, isn’t he? Yet another ever-reliable rent-a-bigot, always on hand to say the unsayable, PC zealots be damned. Honest to a fault (except when he’s joking — why can’t this hostile press tell when he’s joking?), he’s a breath of fresh air. A less successful Boris Johnson, he’s put the 1970s sitcom back into UK politics. Hurrah! And now UKIP’s loss will no doubt be I’m A Celebrity and The Wright Stuff’s gain.

I ought not to be bothered about the likes of Godfrey Bloom and their pathetic non-jokes, designed to offend the Guardian-reading PC elite, and yet I am. Partly this is because I’m part of said elite, obviously, but I’m not totally deluded about how these things work. I know when someone’s just trying to get attention — I live with a four-year-old, after all. But this, I find, is the most annoying thing about it all. There’s such a pressure to be wise to the Blooms of this world, to raise an eyebrow and say with practised resignation “oh look, the bongo bongo bloke’s at it again”.

Bloom tells us that “all the women laughed” when he made his wannabe-infamous “slut” comment.  Well, yes. That’s what they would do, not just because those who are willing to be in the same room as Godfrey Bloom are a special type of women. Laughing at bigoted crap is what the targets of bigots often do. It’s part of how discriminatory power structures work. The “joke” itself is a statement that you don’t matter. God forbid the likes of you then risk causing social embarrassment or appearing humourless by not responding in the way the joker would like.  

This might sound as though I’m over-analysing a dull sexist quip, but believe me, it’s only because I’m at home with the time and space to do so. If I’d been in the room with Bloom I’d have done one of those half-laugh/half-grimace expressions too. You see these a lot on Mock The Week, when they close in torturously on the token female comedian’s face after the men have made yet another rampantly offensive comment. I think of it as the will-she-won’t-she laugh moment, where the viewer gets to decide whether said comedian is really welcome in the boys’ club or is just another uptight bitch (the camera then pans to Dara O’Briain, chuckling in a moderate “gotta admit it’s funny but let’s be reasonable, chaps” way and you can once again forget the woman’s there at all).

This is the double bind the likes of Bloom and Boris Johnson and every other cuddly bigot creates. Responding in a mature, non-angry, bless-him, I’m-laughing-at-him-not-with-him way is just another crappy pressure placed on the targets of their non-humour. It’s just not fair. It dilutes the impact of what’s really being said. Laughing at Godfrey Bloom doesn’t give you power over him. Treating him with the contempt he deserves just might.

23 thoughts on “Why I’m not laughing at Godfrey Bloom

  1. I’ve witnessed that word being used my many, many people in the South East, men AND women, to mean slack, slovenly, unkempt, not tidy…

    His behaviour afterwards was unacceptable, but his ‘slut’ comment, to those who know that word is still in use with its old meaning, was light hearted. Let’s focus on why he’s wrong politically – rather than this rubbish.

    1. I can’t believe he would not be aware of both meanings – that is how his whole “joke” functions. And I think casual sexism IS a part of real politics and has a massive effect on political representation and who gets to influence all other decisions.

    2. Have you witnessed it being used for men? I’ve heard people of my grandma’s generation use it to mean bad at housework, but that’s hardly a defence that it’s not sexist!

      1. I haven’t (my father in law uses it to mean bad at housework – but I don’t think he expects men to do housework so it’s never applied to them!).
        I’m now thinking of slut walk becoming a march to defend the right to be crap at housework. I’d be totally up for taking part!

        1. Katharine Whitehorn wrote an article called ‘Sluts’ in 1963 – the women she describes affectionately are just disorganised; always late, with laddered tights… I used to have a lovely co-worker exactly like that!

          PS Totally ridiculous to suggest we should take the denoted meaning of a word, and forget its connotations

        2. I think it’s also a bit disingenuous because traditionally there usually was an implied link between not doing the housework and misbehaving sexually – the women who have too many lovers are always portrayed as neglecting the home. “She’s no better than she ought to be, but her steps are always beautifully scrubbed and she keeps the lace curtains lovely and white” is not a cliche for a reason.

  2. Any ‘rampantly offensive’ comments on Mock The Week that you’re referring to in particular, or are you stereotyping every single thing said on the show, as if it were a gender…?

    1. Do you normally have this trouble distinguishing between “yet another” and “every single … making up the entire programme”? Honestly, it’s not hard!
      If you are interested in my fave Mock The Week lows, I’d say the Josef Fritz jokes and the quips about how saggy the vaginas of older women must be. That’s just me, though. Ask other women and I’m sure they’ll have their own special MTW shit moments.

      1. Yes, I do, when you haven’t actually identified any of the comments in the first place. It just comes over as lazy generalisation to try to make an unfair point.

        Thanks for giving a ‘ball park’ hint at the particular comments that you mean about Josef Fritz, though I am guessing the butt of the jokes were him, not the ‘other women’. But please do provide specific examples.

        As for quips about saggy vaginas, are you claiming that vaginas don’t ever get saggy? Obviously, making fun of what is just a natural process is a bit of a cheap shot, but ultimately the joke(s?) that I think you are referring to (again, please be clearer), was/were about specific people in the public eye, not the entire female race. Also, the one particular line that springs to mind (about the Queen), was made about five years ago – strange to refer to that now, after all that time?

        1. Jokes about rape are at the expense of “other women” – especially in situations where the identity of the victim is known. I’m sorry you can’t see that.
          As for how old these particular instances are – I’m sorry, should I keep watching things that offend me indefinitely just to make sure they still offend me? (Can’t help thinking the standard “shit joke apologist” response to that would be “just switch over”)

        2. No, sorry, you are wrong. Jokes about someone who raped others, are not necessarily at the expense of those who were raped in that instance, or anyone who has ever been raped (women or men). To be fair, it entirely depends on the nature of the joke(s), so it would be very helpful if you could actually identify (i.e. quote) what it is that apparently offends you so much, so I and others reading this can assess/compare it fairly. Making joke(s) about a rapist is NOT the same as making jokes about a group of/all women.

          If one or two jokes made on a recurring TV show by one (or two?) people have offended you, then going out of your way to avoid literally tens of thousands of jokes made on the show by them and others that in the vast majority of cases are unlikely to offend you, does seem going hugely overboard, yes. Everyone gets offended in some way or another, at some time or other. Mature people, put it in to context, and remember what they were taught as children… ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me’.

          In any case, writing a blog post about something that just happened with a politician, and comparing it to something you remember seeing done by a comedian on a TV show five or so years before that, is a very odd and unfair comparason to make. What you wrote was “you see these a lot…” – you used the present tense, not the past.

          Everything is about context – like you say how the targets of bigots can react differently to the bigotry when they are in the room with/working for the bigot. If you’re claiming that they might not have laughed in a different situation, then you ought to appreciate that the situation of a topical stand up comedy panel show on TV is very different to a UKIP politician’s speech to colleagues and media.

        3. Every single time I’ve tried to watch it, I’ve ended up switching off when there’s been some tedious joke about how shit women are or how great having sex with kids is or whatever. Can’t say I’ve ever found any of them funny enough to learn off by heart to quote back to randoms on the internet.

        4. >>As for quips about saggy vaginas, are you claiming that vaginas don’t ever get saggy?

          Are you claiming that they do?!! Since you’re asking @glosswitch to be more specific, could you also be more specific? Are you claiming that vaginas just generally get “saggy” (!!), or are you referring specifically to prolapse? Cos, like, if it’s the first, it’s bollocks, and if it’s the second, then it’s pretty mean and childish to mock anyone for a medical condition, and even more mean and hcildish to mock anyone for a medical condition which is usually a result of giving birth.

          Perhaps you won’t have time to answer, though – I’m guessing you spend a lot of time watching literally everything on TV, if not watching something is “going out of your way to avoid it!”

        5. Jokes about “how shit women are”? Huh? Sorry, I think you have the wrong show/medium/decade/country. And “how great having sex with kids is”?! WTF?!

          The show is about mocking what’s in the news, not about mocking ‘women’ or promoting the behaviour of paedophiles. If either of your claims were true, the show would have been taken off the BBC years ago. You’re just making stuff up, clearly (if you disagree, again, please quote specific examples). And there’s a thing called YouTube, and also Wikiquote, as well as various other sites, if you need to look something up (as opposed to learning it off by heart, or just making it up to suit your purposes).

          I’m not claiming anything about vaginas… I’m not the one with the complaint about ‘saggy vagina’ jokes made on Mock The Week. I don’t even remember the word/term ‘saggy vagina’ ever being used. The single joke that I think is being referred to, the same one that the Daily Mail took issue with (yes, you’re in the same league as them…), was when Frankie Boyle said “the Queen is so old that her pussy is haunted”, which was specifically about one particular incredibly famous old woman who, given her inherited wealth and lifestyle, is fair game for any making fun of (and if you disagree, you don’t really get the point of comedy at all – to make *FUN* of things). I also remember, on different occasions, references to “a collapsed mine shaft” and “a wizard’s sleeve”, but in any case, “saggy” is the word of ‘glosswitch’, not of Mock The Week, and I already agreed that making fun of what is just a natural process is a bit of a cheap shot (which you seem to have completely ignored).

          I do watch a lot of TV (compared to the average person), but my point was, again, that to specifically choose to stop watching a show that you have previously regularly watched, because of two comments out of tens of thousands, is behaving very over-sensitively and essentially like a child. As I say, kids are repeatedly told “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me”, yet as adults you seem to be forgetting it.

  3. God davenatts get over yourself. People don’t have to conduct a scientific study of an entire tv series classifying and noting the frequency of every kind of joke to form a general impression.

    1. No, but having an (apparently false) impression about something from (five?) years ago, does not give you the right to make false claims about or comparasons to it.

      Generalising things based on single isolated incidents, that you can’t even quote and just have an old memory about, never helps anything.

  4. you say it’s apparently false, but you strike me as the kind of guy who can’t recognize sexism even when it’s slapping you in the face.

    Seeing as you can’t even see the parallels between ‘saggy vagina’ and ‘haunted pussy’ ‘wizard’s sleeve’ and ‘collapsed mine shaft’ I have my doubts you are competent to judge in this arena. These are clearly all jokes about how gross old women’s vagina’s are, which was exactly the kind of thing Glosswitch was talking about. So despite your attempts to rectify this ghastly misrepresentation with your encyclopaedic knowledge of mock the week quotes, you’ve actually just ended up supporting her case. Congrats.

    1. Sexism, noun: prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

      The joke in question (as far as I can tell, again because it’s not actually been quoted or even just pinpointed), was that “the Queen is so old that her pussy is haunted”.

      Is that prejudiced? No, it wasn’t a serious statement (as who could possibly say if it were true or not, apart from Prince Philip!), so there is no judgement being made without evidence, which is what prejudice is.

      Is it stereotyping? No, it’s about one old and incredibly privileged person, not all women.

      Is it discrimination? Well, it is targetting one person, but not on the basis of her sex, but the basis of her status (the monarch of the country) and her age.

      So no, that joke was not sexism/sexist. Equivalent jokes could be made about an old king, if we had one. But we don’t. Yet.

      In fact, no joke (i.e. something that is not meant to be taken seriously), is sexist. It would have to be serious to be sexism. A joke is a joke. And in this case, we know it was a joke, because the majority of a studio audience full of mixed genders, ages and races laughed at it. If it were a serious comment (and thus some kind of prejudice), it would have been met with a wall of silence, and most likely never broadcast.

      The joke is clearly not about all old women’s genitals, or even about any women’s genitals, it just about one particular old person’s, who is well established as a fair target for a joke given their status.

      Like I’ve always said, it’s hardly the most sophisticated of humour, but people laughed, and until the Daily Mail made a fuss about it, long after it was first broadcast, there were almost zero complaints made.

      Anyway, back to my objection with the original post, which was the claim that this kind of things happens “a lot” on Mock The Week, “yet another rampantly offensive comment” etc. I’m sorry, but based on actual evidence, that’s just not true.

      1. How many jokes do you hear about old men’s wrinkly dicks? Saggy balls? Jokes at the expense of old men are usually based on who they are, something they’ve done. Jokes at the expense of old women are frequently about how they are now sexually gross. Because everything about women is always about how fuckable they are. Or are not. This is sexism. And you are a pedantic idiot who clearly knows very little about what they are talking about. Reading me a dictionary definition of sexism, for crying out loud.

        1. So what exactly has the Queen actually done, then? She’s had such a tough life… right? All those servants waiting on her, events dedicated to her, and to never have to worry about how she’s going to pay her energy bills. How dare she be the butt of a joke on a comedy show! How truly awful…

          Look, I know exactly what I’m talking about, and I’ve even quoted from the dictionary and the TV show to prove it. You can both make up as many false quotes and definitions as like, but it won’t help your arguments, and frankly you won’t be hearing from me again as there’s no point trying to reason with people who invent their own truths.

        2. Wow you really told me. And there I was thinking I knew something about sexism after two social science degrees and years of independent study on the subject.

          So glad a dude with a dictionary and an ability to quote from Mock the Week was able to prove me wrong. I do hope this victory inspires you to start a new life as a women’s study professor – I’m sure you’ll go far.

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