British PM Theresa May and Labour MP Rupa Huq engaged in a weird banter on ‘Parliamentary ejaculation’ during a Brexit debate. Yes, this just happened and that too in the House of Commons. Two elected representatives shot back and forth snide remarks which not only didn’t contribute to the Brexit debate in question, but also sounded extremely inappropriate. While we still cannot get over how ludicrous the entire exchange was, what is more amusing is that those around them actually found it funny.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • The weird exchange between British PM Theresa May and MP Rupa Huq has put the existence of female sexism in focus.
  •  It was the time and the place of this exchange that made it bizarre.
  • When it comes to making sexist comments, women are no less than men.
  • No matter the setting or the context, cracking sexist jokes is in bad taste for both men and women.

It all started when Huq took a shot at May by saying, “Nine times the Prime Minister assured us there would be no early General Election, yet still it happened. As recently as this morning her hapless ever-changing band of ministers were out on the airwaves assuring us there would be a meaningful vote tomorrow, before this latest twist – this sort of premature Parliamentary ejaculation – that has put the lie to the claim she sticks to her guns.”

To this, the British Prime Minister retorted, “If she looks carefully, she will see I am not capable of a parliamentary ejaculation.”

Those present during the debate either felt amused or were caught chuckling at this exchange. But if you take a moment to think about it, this was such an improper exchange. Women love to crucify men for mingling casual sexism in their speech ever so often. But they must ask themselves, “don’t we do the same?” Aren’t women prone to making sexist remarks or cracking gender specific jokes too?

This comment is proof that when it comes to making sexist comments, women are no less than men. We have all either shook our heads in disapproval or chuckled like those at House of Commons, on hearing women resort to sexism. It is not uncommon, even for Indian women, to dole out below the belt jokes, which take shots at men. Or to make sexist stereotypical statements about men which paints an entire gender in one colour. So let’s just stop pretending that such things don’t happen.

Perhaps it was the time and the place of this exchange that made it so bizarre.No matter the setting or the context, cracking sexist jokes is in bad taste. Period.

Much as women like to criticise men for engaging in sexist banter, they need to accept how common sexism is in their own speech. Unless we get rid of it, there is no point in telling men to correct theirs. If we want to get rid of it, first we have to deem sexism as unacceptable across genders. It is not easy to switch the collective mindset from finding something funny one instant and regressive the next. But just as we got conditioned into believing that cracking sexist jokes is acceptable, perhaps over the period of time we can swing the other way.

What we have also learned from May and Huq’s exchange is that how easily do we lose sight of the narrative.  The focus point of this entire House of Commons debate was Brexit. This bizarre exchange hijacked the narrative and even diverted the attention of those present on the floor. This is another reason why elected leaders should refrain from using controversial language while making speeches. The agenda is not to make everyone laugh or stun them, it is to get your point across with such strength that it lingers long before you are done talking. Unfortunately, what lingers back here is the bad taste of reverse sexism.

Source: NDTV

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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