Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Respect - and the battle of the sexists...

I’ve been thinking hard about the whole News of the World debacle this week.  It’s hard to avoid!  Everyone’s up in arms, shocked, horrified, disgusted, appalled etc etc.  But,

Q:  What made it such a huge successful paper in the first place? 
A:  The public’s enjoyment at reading about the antics of people in the public eye – with no respect for their private lives.  Relishing their humiliation.

It’s a supply and demand thing.  If the public hadn’t demanded it, they wouldn’t have supplied it.  We may not personally have hacked into people’s phones and e-mail, but the people didn’t stop reading, did they? 

And in the midst of all this, I read a post on ThinkingFox entitled “Lacking Respect”.  It outlines the writers’ concerns about his son’s behaviour and respectfulness to his mother.  It’s worth a read – it’s on my blog list.

All I can think is: what’s wrong with society today, where’s the respect?

Can’t we all just stop for a minute?  Stop the fighting, bitching and criticism.

Men and women; children and parents; employees and employers should all respect each other.  It’s a two-way street.

But they don’t do they?  It’s all gone horribly, horribly wrong.  And whilst we are all so busy fighting about what we want and promoting our views, society is crumbling around our ears.

Speaking from the perspective of a woman (because I am one!) I want to know why people assume that if a man has good manners (gives up his seat on the tube, holds doors open etc), that he is automatically a male chauvinist pig?  How does having good manners translate into regarding women as second class citizens?

I hold doors open for people and have given up my seat on the tube.  I think it’s just good manners.  Treating others as we would like to be treated.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had encounters with two very different types of men.  Firstly, a young man sat staring at my eight months pregnant bump, purposely making eye contact whilst I struggled to stay standing on a tube train.  Eventually, I couldn’t help snapping at him and pointed out that he was sitting in a seat with a sign above it, which said it was reserved for people with a greater need to sit down!  As he left the train his parting shot was “good luck finding the father”.  What a misogynistic, nasty little shit. 

My other encounter was with a man who was standing at the far end of the carriage from me.  Seeing I was pregnant, but not having a seat to give me himself, his voice rang down the carriage: “Excuse me Madam, would you like someone to give you their seat?”.  Half a dozen embarrassed people then stood up.  It made my day! What a lovely man. 

What type of person would you rather encounter, or be?

We need to stop jumping to conclusions and taking offence at other people’s good behaviour.  And wouldn’t it be better for everyone if we didn’t just accept that we’re all different, but embraced it – “Vive la difference”, as the French would say! 

You don’t have to agree with everyone’s views, you don’t even have to like them.   But for goodness sake, have some respect.


  1. natalie barratt13 July 2011 at 10:26

    The total lack of RESPECT in our society is the reason raising children has become the biggest battle ground since Gettysberg. If we cant respect the Police, we have a big problem trying to make our kids respect people in positions of authoirity...Manners seem not to matter a jot anymore - if we are fastidious about them, we are mocked for taking things too seriously. Love your blog!

  2. This is why it is so important to teach our children such things, and why maths and other intellectual pursuits often pushed early these days are better left to later. One of the things that bugs me to no end is when a child gets in trouble at school, parents these days reflexively side with the child. If only for this issue of respect for authority, parents should support the teacher unless there is significant evidence to the contrary. Also, modern moms in particular are often very controlling of their children--not trusting babysitters, teachers, even dads to discipline the children. As a result the children learn that mom is the boss, but no one else is. We have to support others in positions of authority so that our children will learn that bosses come in other shapes than Mom.
    Of course, more, non child examples abound, but it is the last day of school so I have that on the brain.

  3. "I want to know why people assume that if a man has good manners, that he is automatically a male chauvinist pig?"

    A good question, that one. Seems we so often get the treatment we deserve, when thought of on a societal level: society now teaches men that treating women well is a bad thing that won't reap any meaningful reward.

    So what would we expect, a buncha Rhett Butlers?



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