A cold shoulder?
I think we will always be indebted to Richard Nixon, for it was his attempt to bug and spy on the Democratic National Committee HQ at the Watergate Office Building that led to his downfall, aka quite simply, ‘Watergate’. All one must do is to add the suffix ‘-gate’ to a word, and you know something is not right. For example, Sachsgate refers to the time when Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left a series of obscene voice messages on the answerphone of actor Andrew Sachs.
Equally if not more notorious, was Nipplegate, the moment at the SuperBowl when Justin Timberlake pulled Janet Jackson’s dress away to afford the watching millions a very brief view of her breast, apparently covered with a nipple shield.
And now we have Shouldergate, when, as Labour frontbencher Tracy Brabin recently leaned forward at the despatch box in the Houses of Parliament, her dress slipped off one shoulder, revealing some bare flesh. Let us not forget that Ms Brabin had a broken ankle and was using the despatch box for support, and how she may well have been in some discomfort.
It came as no surprise to any of us that Ms B was immediately accused of not wearing appropriate attire – tweeted by a male Tory back bencher, who else? Like a true dame, Brabin shot back with:
‘Hello. Sorry I don’t have time to reply to all of you
commenting on this but I can confirm I’m not….
About to breastfeed
Just been banged over a wheelie bin.
Who knew people could get so emotional over a shoulder…’
Far more importantly, the reason why she was at the despatch box was because she was making a point of order on Downing Street’s decision to order senior journalists from some of the news organisations to leave before a briefing on Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans. This was a serious attack on the freedom of the press. But of course, why concern yourself with substance if there is a chance for a cheap sexist jibe?
To add insult to injury (well she did have a broken ankle), I gather that Ms Brabin has previously spoken out against sexism in politics; would that we could learn more about that.
And because we dames, like the Beeb, strive to present a balanced view, may I draw your attention to Dame V’s blog published some time ago: Unseemly Displays gives a perspective on appropriate attire in the workplace that is nothing to do with the sexist rants Tracy Brabin received.
I’ve left the best till last. With her dress and shoulder in the limelight, Brabin decided to auction the former online. I am delighted to inform you that she raised over £20,000, which she is donating to Girlguiding UK. A 15-year-old member of Girlguiding’s advocate panel, said: ‘You could say that I’m foolish for wanting to be an MP. As #shouldergate has shown, female MPs are often vilified for their looks, not their actions. This demeans girls and our aspirations to be politicians. But Tracy Brabin – and all the people who supported her and Girlguiding by bidding on the dress – have shown that oppression is never acceptable.
‘Girlguiding helped me persevere against the judgment of my looks. I’m elated that the money raised is going to an organisation that inspires girls and builds our confidence at a time where women’s concerns are dismissed as ‘humbug’. Girlguiding makes the future brighter for girls and young women.’
I would also urge damesnet readers to look back at my blog Guiding Principles.
Rest assured Tracy, we dames stand shoulder to shoulder with you!