Monday, 2 March 2009

oh go on then...

I'll make a mention of Gail Trimble. But only a short one, mind.

Firstly I'd like to point out that I haven't watched the show, I am working from short clips I've seen and comments from other people. With this in mind, I shall begin:

However much it might pain the feminists, I have a feeling that the antagonism towards this smart lady might not be so COMPLETELY about her being female.

Is it, perhaps, more about her accent and demeanour? A lot of the mean things people have said are, yes, geared towards her appearance. I don't agree with this and I see how it relates to valuing women only for their looks. I also know that it is the kind of throwaway comment many (men) make when criticising a multitude of things, along the vein of '...and she's a munter too'

Regardless of what she looks like,

**please note here that I am not expressing an opinion on her looks and do not intend to make comment on it, too many other people have done so already**

her accent is *rather* plummy. She is smart and she has the diction to prove it. It riles people. It could well be a class/regional thing.

Hey, I even has a source right here to cite: Swann, J. (2002) Yes, but is it gender?
(I'm not being totally geeky, honest, it's on my dissertation plan sitting next to me)

People get so worked up about issues when there is a hint about sexism that they ignore the other possibilities. I concede that there is probably a hint of gender involved, especially in the comments on her appearance, but we mustn't neglect the class aspect. Look at the examples pulled on the f word website. Many pertain to her 'smug'-ness, her 'know-it-all'-ness, if that's not judging her by her accent then I quit linguistics!

Getting personal for a moment, (yes, how un-academic) if I had watched it, I feel that I would have disliked 'smugness' from either a male or female team captain. It is not that I have been conditioned to think that women should be modest and men be bold, I have decided from my experience that I dislike smugness on anyone. You could probably say that I have been conditioned to dislike a particular style of accent, having grown up in the phonologically-rich Midlands in probably a low-middle income household. But you could hardly call me anti-woman...thus if I were to find fault with her, I would be offended to be told it was because she was a smart woman!

Anyway, that's all I really have to say on the issue. I'm quite sad that they got disqualified, they should have been allowed to play with the team they started the competition with, regardless of the fact a member might have finished his course in the middle of the series.

Apologies for the rambling nature, just a collection of thoughts here really, goodnight.


  1. Hi Liz! I saw your blog connection one fb - where else? and having a very slow morning at work, have had a read. I like your linguistic/mothering mix!

    This is the best account of 'why Gail Trimble is actually annoying' that I have read so far. Most people are keen to criticise the criticizers for making fun of her gestures and her accent and her downright smugness, but heck, I find it annoying, I would find anyone who did that annoying, whether they were the most intelligent person I'd met or the stupidest, whether male or female, and whether lower, middle, upper or whatever class.

    She'd have made for a great dissertation topic!

  2. Hi Jill, cheers! Are you following on networked blogs? You better be, haha ;)

    Definitely about the dissertation topic, might mention it to good ol' Bethan!

  3. I feel more could have been said on how unfair it is to pick on someone for their accent, though I realise this is primarily a blog dealing with discrimination against women as such. Accents are hardly the fault of the person who has it, so it seems a shame to form a judgement on them based on something so involuntary.
    (Ps blame Blath for my sticking my nose in - you come very highly recommended Liz!)

  4. Hi Michelle,

    You're welcome to follow along, it's great to get more people involved. The blog is just as much about language as it is about women's issues, so your comment is entirely justified.

    I agree with your point, but I think what I was mostly trying to get across was that it *was* about accent and attitude, not gender. I wasn't really intending to make an analysis of whether it was right or wrong to judge someone under such circumstances.

    From her BBC interview she seems quite a likeable person and no, she can't help the way she speaks, but it's very hard to suppress conditioned attitudes! Of course, I'm not defending those attitudes, it is obviously wrong to discriminate against someone due to any feature about their person.

    However, like Jill says, smugness can come across in any accent, a contestant from Birmingham/Scotland/Newcastle with a smug attitude would be just as grating to the public. I suppose it depends on your personal definition of 'smug'!