This is why The Queen, Margaret Thatcher and Germaine Greer never changed their hair styles.
It’s just not worth the media attention, and with Twitter all a flutter, ready to respond at less than a moment’s notice, things can only get worse.
I have long been a fan of Jeremy Paxman.
There hasn’t been a newscaster as serious as he is, in my mind, at least, since Robin Day graced our screens.
Paxman is a proper journalist, a man who knows what he thinks and why, and who is fearless in the face of... well... just about anything. He cut his teeth reporting on the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the early/mid 1970s, and there wasn’t a much sharper sharp end than that, not then, and not since, in domestic journalism. Just to prove it wasn’t some sort of fluke, he also reported from Beirut and Uganda.
It’s not hard to see why the likes of Michael Howard and George Galloway among a whole raft of politicians found him a tough interviewer. He’s well known for taking no prisoners.
Why then should the condition of Mr Paxman’s facial hair be of any interest to anyone? It’s a nonsense, isn’t it?
|a bearded Jeremy Paxman|
The Twitterverse was all agog, last night, when Jeremy Paxman read the news with a beard, one that we haven’t seen before. Predictably, some people liked it and others didn’t. Some thought it distinguished, others compared Paxman to Santa Claus or a castaway.
Personally, I never met a man I didn’t like more with face furniture, if all I cared about was the way a man looked. That isn’t all I care about, though.
I do wonder, however, whether this doesn’t represent the leveling of that old playing field, the one us women have been banging on about since... well, since forever for most of us, and certainly since the advent of the women’s liberation movement and the move towards what we believed would become a more equal society.
Women have, forever been judged by their appearance. We don’t like it, but at least we can claim we’re somewhat used to it.
Something else that was trending on Twitter yesterday was a panel discussion by the young things that put together the YouTube channel Becoming YouTube. I watched Episode 7 of Becoming YouTube, which posed the question ‘Why are there more Boy YouTubers than Girls’. The answer went like this, and I’m paraphrasing:
Telling a bloke he’s funny is roughly the same as telling a girl she’s hot, and If you’re a girl and you’re ugly you can fuck off, and if you’re hot, you don’t need to be talented... You will, of course, be abused regardless.
These are kids, young people working in a young, hip medium, and I honestly believed that things had changed, that the horrendously sexist double standards that women have put up with for generations, simply didn’t apply any more, that we’d got over all that nonsense.
It turns out, sadly, that I was wrong.
Worse than that, it would appear that we’re now treating middle-aged men pretty much the same way that we’ve always treated young women, and if we’re treating Jeremy Paxman that way, surely we’re well on the way to treating anyone and everyone that way.
Some women might argue that it’s about time, that men should get a taste of their own medicine, that it’s time they learned what it is to be objectified.
I couldn’t agree less.
Why would we lower ourselves to a standard that we have been fighting for decades? What do we have to gain by objectifying anyone? By demeaning Jeremy Paxman, we only demean ourselves. Trust me, the man rises well above being affected by a flurry of nonsense of this sort on Twitter. He’s not going to dash off to the loo for a good cry.
Another slew of women will claim it was all just a bit of fun. Well, for them, maybe, but objectification wasn’t funny when men were doing it to us, so why should it be fun the other way around? And for those who were negative about the beard, well they were basically just being insulting, and since when was that fun?
As women, we don’t help ourselves and we don’t help each other. Men want us to look good, but they lose nothing if we’re not clever or funny, and they gain plenty if we choose not to compete with them where there’s money to be made, and that includes new media outlets for our creativity like YouTube.
It seems to me that women don’t encourage each other to be clever or funny, either. They don’t encourage each other to take risks, to participate, to be controversial or to compete. They don’t seem to me to take pride in each other’s efforts, whether they succeed or not.
It’s past time we girded our loins and put our best feet forward. It’s past time we cheered for what is good and clever, and creative and funny, whoever it’s produced by. If someone’s pretty, well, I guess it’s OK to celebrate that, too, for a moment, but can we please move on and applaud clever, creative, engaged boys and girls, and men and women, and put aside all that pointless harmful negativity? Can we please move past the idea that girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice, and that everything else belongs to the male of the species?
Can girls start to believe that, please?
Jeremy Paxman has since had this to say about his beard, sensible man,