Monday, 14 August 2017

Shoe fetish

A widely reported shoe story is bound to catch the cynical eye.

Clarks has been accused of "everyday sexism" for a calling a girls' school shoe "Dolly Babe", while the boys' equivalent is called "Leader".

The girls' shoes carry a heart-patterned insole, while the boys' insoles are decorated with footballs.

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, said the situation was unacceptable and "almost beyond belief" in 2017.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, also criticised Clarks. "To call a pair of shoes for a girl Dolly Babe is dreadful. It's wrong in all sorts of ways ... this is just really silly," he told the BBC.

Carolyn Harris, shadow minister for women and equalities, described the situation as "blatant discrimination", while Sarah Ludford, a Liberal Democrat peer and shadow Brexit minister, called the name choices "depressing

So much madness. A blogger could easily post on nothing else - there is so much of it out there. One might respond more rationally in any number of ways. The obvious one is to suggest that if boys, girls or parents don’t want politically incorrect shoes then they can take their custom elsewhere. Clarks sales figures may then lead it to correct the situation because that’s what markets do.

This of course is part of the problem, the chattering classes do not approve of markets, they think they should be policed by people who think as they do. Of course markets are already policed with respect to standards, but as ever there are those who think they should be policed politically too. Hence our increasingly shambolic energy market.

What about the madness itself, the source of so many crazy stories? It is not the madness of insanity, but the madness of a civilisation that chooses not to recognise certain realities it cannot change but for political reasons must pretend to be changing. That is one for the future, one of the chapters in our ultimate collapse or a problem we learn to deal with in the wider story of our ultimate survival.

For the present we have a minor skirmish in the war against diversity which pretends to be promoting diversity. It also seems to my cynical eye that this battle over kids’ shoes is a reminder of where those stereotyped shoes came from, a reminder that gender stereotypes are popular, particularly with the young. They evolved because they work. Yet we are supposed to believe or at least accept relentless public harangues telling us that gender stereotyping is repressive, out of date, harmful, immoral, itchy or whatever epithet is fashionable, even though almost everyone knows it is not so.

Gender stereotyping is clearly popular out there in the real world. It can be observed over and over again, especially among the young. I recently saw a group of about a dozen young girls and every one of them had fashionably long hair, at least shoulder-length. That was only one of their ways to stereotype themselves.

To my low mind, one should not avoid the basics. Females tend to seek alpha males and in doing that they do not usually depend on gender-neutral footwear. This is the way of the world, one of the biological basics we should not avoid. I don’t know what drives the faux outrage apart from the obvious Pavlovian explanation, but if we neglect the basics we neglect what we know. 


Sam Vega said...

I only buy shoes that look nice and comfy and hard-wearing. But I've just had a peep inside my latest pair, and there's a little label that says "Sad Grumpy Old Bastard", and the insole has a pattern of little cups of tea with a biscuit.

Clacket said...

…I am sensing the increasing exasperation of Our Dear Blog Leader. No wonder he is commending the joys of retro holidays in bubble cars and the virtues of silence! Quite so! Just how did we, so unworthily advantaged beyond all previous generations, manage to get to be quite so dumb, so incapable of independent thought, so ungrateful, cowed and defensive; and most of all lacking all confidence? Was Yeats dismally right, the miserable old git? It may indeed be dawning on us that the pass is sold, the barbarians are at or beyond the gates and we are not actually that sure about the pusillanimous numpties that we are, at least nominally, shoulder to shoulder with behind those totteringly threatened defences of wit and discrimination. Maybe it is really one of those dreary five hundred year (plus) struggles, which will not be deflected or defeated by re-statement of the blindingly bleeding obvious or worldly observation, and moreover one in which we will not live to see encouragement? Maybe there won’t be the right kind of victors to write the history?

Gawd ‘elp us, but regretfully we are compelled to admit that we don’t actually think there’s one to assist. In other news, it has actually been quite a nice day. Given that it’s stinking August, anyway…

Quite seriously, I do think those of us a semi scientific, historically aware, sort of rational, ‘rightie’ by virtue of compassionate experience persuasion types are a little on the back foot at the moment given the impressive and duplicitous post Trump and Brexit kickback. It’s always good to know the enemy. Shame (but on who?) when they live down to your lowest expectations, though.

Said Eeyore, munching on thistles…

Anonymous said...

Just the new growth industry - professional whining - doing its job. What a shoe is called is of no interest to anyone other than the shoe maker and the customer. But sad semioticists and people who sniff shoes and bicycle saddles, their view must also be heard because there is a market for ludicrous twaddle.

In the silly season journalists can have some fun asking the opinion of the great and good on any daft topic. In their turn the G&G may well think 'how tedious, can't be arsed to think about it' but also think 'how can I get an acceptable headline out of this'. So answer comes there 'silly, depressing, discrimination', suitably anodyne messages to feed the whiners. All frightfully useful productive work I am sure.

wiggiatlarge said...

Faux outrage has become an industry in itself, Jess Philips the Labour MP is accusing left wing men of being the "worst" re inequality because Corbyn has chosen mainly men for the top shadow posts.
Of course the gene pool Corbyn has to choose from is limited to put it mildly but it could just be the evil "men" were the best choice and that would never do.
Not long now before Barbie and Ken become gender neutral and all that candy pink and camouflage is confined to the dustbin and rainbow boiler suits become the norm.

Demetrius said...

Put a sock in it.

A K Haart said...

Sam - yes I believe Clarks do those too. The eco-warrior version has pictures of a boot stamping on a butterfly. Not sure they have the concept right though.

Clacket - crikey you should start a blog.

Roger - yes there is a market for ludicrous twaddle and to give them their due, professional media types know how to keep it on the boil.

Wiggia - Jess Philips ought to have known that long before she became an MP. Not much she can do about it now.

Demetrius - but not a pink sock with a little frill round the top.

Clacket said...

The reasons not to start a blog are manifest:

First, you (the blogger, whoever you, generically, may be) might not be right. Second, who decides what right is anyway, Then, third, what is the point of acquiring a load of pointy-headed acolytes from around the globe, with whom on matters of substance you might heatedly disagree, and in significant respects actively dislike.

Next, it’s a broad brush lacking the sophistication, body language and nuance of actual discussion and humane regard that (admittedly not always!) prevails face to face.

Next and next, you will surely contradict yourself and have to consider and justify yourself (in and of itself a bit of an affront) to your audience. Who needs that at our time in life? It’s like teaching algebra to three year olds. Fact is most people are justifiably bewildered by life. Truth likely is everyone (bloggers included) should be. Get used to it.

Next etc., it’s a vanity project. Who actually gives a toss about people who just sort of might know what they are talking about? The track record of human history is not encouraging. The awful truth is that, astonishingly, people can be seriously but, intriguingly and mundanely, ‘evil’ and sleep quite easily. And do pretty much OK. Like, just say, Blair. Thing is he thinks he is genuinely great. We have what your ancient Greeks might term an unresolved dichotomy thingy going on right there…

By the way, I, and hopefully many others, hugely enjoy and appreciate your thoughtful blog; as if you didn’t know that…

A K Haart said...

Clacket - thanks, I'm pleased you enjoy the blog. Blogging isn't that bad if you don't take your own blog too seriously. As you suggest, it is difficult to be right and blogging does hammer this message home, although I think the internet is doing that too.

A big attraction is when people leave comments, partly because it makes blogging much more worthwhile and partly because it reinforces the message that there are always different aspects to non-trivial issues.

It still surprises me that there are so many smart and experienced people out there because that isn't the impression we get from the mainstream media.