A quick explanation

…or “Why Jacques is right – and wrong”.
…or “Why I wrote what I wrote”.
…or “Meh, whatevs”.

I really don’t want to add to this molehill in my teacup, but I feel that I – and maybe others – might want some explanation (and need some clarification) on my rationale behind the women24 post I wrote on Friday, just for when we fondly look back on these halcyon days. My twitter, email and blog have since been alight with misquotes, unfounded allegations, hyperbolic extrapolation and general hatred.

It’s been such fun. Really.

Jacques Rousseau wrote about that post here and set out – as always – a compelling and sagacious case on why he feels that I was incorrect to have used the term “mixed messages” when calling women24 out on their coverage of the distasteful and bizarre spectacle that is ‘The Red Carpet’ at the annual State of the Nation Address (SONA). That said, and despite the absence of the ‘challenging vocabulary’ for which he are famed, I still don’t agree with him.

The argument against my stance presented by Jacques and others seems to rest upon the fact that the hate-filled, vitriol-spewing (LOLz) gallery I used as an example was from last year’s SONA and that women24.com’s editorial policies have changed since then.
Jacques and others suggest that this invalidates my message. And, if one works from that foundation, and uses simple logic, Jacques and others are absolutely correct.

But here’s my issue. Jacques hints (and others have triumphantly asserted) that I was unaware that the gallery in question was from 2013. Not so. No, I state that very clearly in my blog post.
For me, the date of the pictures and the comments is irrelevant, because if anyone searches on women24.com for SONA fashion, they’ll find that vindictive 2013 gallery right next to this year’s wonderfully positive one. You don’t have to be a regular reader of women24.com to do a search; you don’t have to have the context that Ms Radloff et al are only nice about the fashion choices of politicians these days.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m delighted that at some point between February 2013 and last Thursday evening, women24.com came to the conclusion that shaming politicians over what they choose to wear to an annual ceremonial event wasn’t a nice thing to do (actors are evidently still fair game though) (unless there’s been another sea change in editorial policy since January 13th).

Anyway: well done, welcome to the 21st century.

But there’s nothing on that 2013 gallery that says “Actually, we’ve realised since we published this that it was a bit of shit thing to do and so we’ve stopped doing it now”. There’s nothing in that faux holier than thou “OMG, How Could You?” post from Friday that says “Although, in fairness, we were also still doing this until very recently too”.
Moreover, and perhaps more realistically, as far as I’m aware (and I’m quite sure that someone from that band of merry women would have pointed it out to me if it existed), there’s nothing on women24.com telling us about what – let’s face it – is quite a big shift in editorial policy for a women’s “lifestyle site” and one which they should surely be proud of.
This is something that Jacques eludes to as well.

So, yes. If any one of those things was clear, then yes, the foundation of Jacques’ argument would be solid and maybe I’d look a bit foolish (Hell, it’s happened before…). But their asking “since when do we expect members of parliament to look and dress like A-List celebrities? And why do we care?” and “can’t we at least let them wear what they want?”, just because they changed their minds on how they choose to report that, and while still having that 2013 gallery readily accessible on their site, well yes, that for me clearly amounts to sending out “mixed messages”.

This really isn’t meant to reignite any flames of argument. As I stated a few hundred words ago, it’s merely an explanation and clarification of why I said what I said and why I’m happy to stand by that position.
The difference between that position and Jacques’ comes down simply to a difference in opinion, and as far as I know, there are no set rules about that sort of thing, other than “it’s fine to have them”.

And on that note, let’s just remind ourselves of Jacques’ final paragraph:

When we get around to engaging each other – on these and other issues – let’s try not to assume the worst, though. It’s getting more and more difficult to talk about issues without presumptions of guilt or virtue, and we all play a part in creating – but if we care to be more careful, undermining – a culture in which blaming, judging, and shouting are valued more than understanding is.

Preach, brother…

  • Tara

    Editorial policy. Ah. Now we know. By the way, there’s a new link to the worst dressed at the BAFTA’s that you can include as well, because you know, those female celebrities just can’t wear what they want. And while I’m not an ordinary reader of W24, I’ve just learnt from a brief perusal over there, besides the BAFTA thing, that ordinary women who apparently should wear what they want, should know how to banish fat days forever and how to dress if they have big boobs. But you know, no judgement there.

    But then, while everyone is caught up in this whole dress scandal (which must have our politicians absolutely ecstatic), I’m still left wondering why in gods name we have a red carpet affair, and everything that goes with it, for the state of the nation address in the first place.

  • Tara > Yes. That last point is an interesting one. And if they are going to have a red carpet event, which MPs willingly take part in, does that not make those MPs celebrities for that moment and therefore open to ridicule over their fashion choices? (By other w24 standards, I mean).

  • Tara

    Well…you would think. The issue here seems to be that she was pregnant though. If she were simply a larger lady wearing that dress, and I say larger lady because apparently her figure was a big part of what made the dress bad from what I understand, would she be eligible for the worst dressed list then? Would there have been a worst dressed list again this year?

  • Tara > We’re on thin ice here (quite dangerous if you’re a bit weighty). I have no time for anyone criticising Ms Sunduza because of her weight (pregnant or not). But then… does her shape (pregnant or not) influence how she looks in any given outfit and would/should a fashion designer take that into consideration when dressing her for the occasion? I’d say yes, which potentially brings body shape into contention for praise/criticism when praising or criticising an outfit.
    And then, as I said in the earlier comment, does the fact that they are choosing to “do” the red carpet thing not mean that they are asking to be looked at and commented on, a la celebrities?
    Can of worms alert.