Finding offence where it simply isn’t intended is becoming an inherent problem in today’s society. As one news reporter put it, “people seem to be tuned into ‘Offence FM’, constantly looking for offence in meaningless comments”
Four weeks ago, David Moyes, the manager of Sunderland F.C, was accused of sexism after making a joke to a news reporter in an interview after a football match (which ended with a 0-0 draw). In the interview in question, Moyes was asked by the female reporter if the presence of the club’s owner Ellis Short had put extra pressure on him. He said it hadn’t but, after the interview, added that the interviewer “might get a slap even though you’re a woman” and told her to be “careful” next time she visited (link to the video at the bottom). Both the reporter and the manager laughed to each other and no offence was taken at the time. Later on, Moyes felt that what he said was wrong, and contacted the BBC to apologise to the journalist for his comments.
Four weeks later, Moyes’ comments are appearing in the papers and on TV, alongside headlines screaming that his words had ‘undertones of domestic violence’ and that he should lose his job.
I have no words. (except for the ones im writing here. obviously.)
I still can’t understand how the public and the media has managed to make a huge scandal out of a bit of banter between a manager and a journalist, Moyes apologised before the media even picked up the story. My biggest problem with this is that the reporter herself had no problems with the comment, and was laughing with the manager at the time. Also, in what way was the comment even offensive?
“you might get a slap even though you’re a woman”
Isn’t he saying that he would slap anyone, regardless of their gender? In that case, isn’t that the opposite of sexist, since he wouldn’t differentiate between a male and female reporter?
To be honest, I think that making big headlines out of the tiniest comments is doing injustice to actual sexist comments and actual threats of violence towards women, people are wasting time and money making stories about throw-away comments made by high profile people and are turning a blind eye to instances of real domestic violence.
Clearly, there are instances where comments are unacceptable (eg. “Grab ‘em by the p***y”, we all know who said that one), and in these cases it’s only right that the public and media speaks up against those people. And clearly, sexism is a problem in the workplace for many women, and I’m not denying that. But its not fair that men must feel like they’re walking on eggshells every time they say something in the vicinity of a woman.
Would the media have had the same reaction if the manager said something similar to a young, male reporter?
Another clear example of this is the 2014 John Lewis Christmas ad, titled ‘Monty the Penguin’. (There’s a link at the bottom for those of you who haven’t seen it before) The adorable ad featured a young boy who’s best friend was his little penguin. One day, whilst sitting watching tv together, the penguin sees a couple holding hands and becomes obsessed with the idea of being in love. The commercial ends with the boy buying his penguin a female counterpart, so that they could be happy together. The advert was a hit (as is always the case with the John Lewis X-mas advert), and yet social media lit up with people saying that the ad taught children that women exist to make men happy.
I mean… Really? Since when were kids so good at inferring non existent messages from TV adverts?
Going back to the quote from the beginning of this post (said by a female news reporter) – “people seem to be tuned into ‘Offence FM’, constantly looking for offence,” – I think that’s probably the best way I’ve heard someone describe the situation we’re in. People are actively seeking out offence in every little comment, advert and song, and if you go out seeking offence like that, you are bound to find it. The ability of some people to stretch and contort events so out of shape all for the purpose of a social media uproar or another headline is having a damaging effect on our society, and is something I think needs to change. Less people need to tune into‘Offence FM’, and more people need to tune into ‘Just get on with life FM’.
Moyes interview – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODq51JZ2eRg