The Misogynoir of Jeremy Clarkson
Whether it was Isabel Oakeshott being given a platform by the BBC to explain how she ‘doesn’t believe in strikes’ or Stephen Kinnock explaining how Labour would support sending in troops to break striking workers, we seem to have entered a new era of vile media complicity with Britain’s unmuzzled populist right.
Haggis_UK 🇬🇧 🇪🇺 on Twitter: “Isabel Oakeshott — “I fundamentally don’t believe in strikes…. you’re entirely entitled to withdraw your labour, but don’t expect a job at the end of it.” #PoliticsLive https://t.co/vZvWZIhSfh" / Twitter
Most of the time the thing to do with Jeremy Clarkson (and you can insert any number of rabid middle-aged arseholes here) is just completely ignore them, but Clarkson’s weekend foray into the land of misogynoir is of notice because it combines media power, constitutional fear and hatred of women in power. Clarkson, like his deranged side-kick Piers Morgan have been humiliating themselves over their faux-outrage and bile towards #MeghanMarkIe for years.
To be clear I am as bored rigid as anyone by the Harry and Meghan pantomime of self-pity, but Clarkson’s latest splenetic outburst is a revelation:
Who enables such shit? Stand up Victoria Newton the editor of The Sun. Stand up Laura Kuenssberg, presenter of the imaginatively-titled ‘Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg’.
Newton was on the show yesterday to be soft-balled questions by Kuenssberg about Harry and Meghan and the tabloids exemplary role in all of this, as outlined in Mic Wright’s media substack ‘The Conquest of the Useless’.
As Wright points out: “…what was most egregious about Newton’s appearance, is that Kuenssberg entirely failed to mention Jeremy Clarkson’s Sun column published the day before which included his lurid fantasy of Meghan being marched naked through the streets and pelted with shit. It is not credible that Kuenssberg, the programme’s editor, and the production team would not be aware of the column or the furious response to it, which has been covered by other newspapers and includes responses from a wide range of prominent figures as well as a huge number of members of the public.”
“It was already a journalistic failure — and a reflection of Sunday’s broken format — that Kuenssberg gave Newton such a softball question and then chummily accepted her assertions but to ignore the Clarkson column was a glaring example of media solidarity.”
But is it not the fault of the Shock Jocks and Middle-Aged Edgelords that cover British public life like Hate Confetti, it is the gate-keepers and editors, the producers and bookers who are responsible.
While we should be focusing on the super-soaraway Sun, let’s not forget the Daily Mail, here with a fantastic scoop that the Queen Consort ‘proves Meghan isn’t the only royal with pulling power’.
Clarkson’s throwing Sturgeon in with Meghan and Rose West is at least consistent. Remember the time he referred to Gordon Brown as a ‘one -eyed Scottish idiot’?
But abuse of Sturgeon and Markle clearly has a different element to it, and if some of Britain’s highest-paid media elite have been called into action, it is perhaps because, even with a populist far-right orthodoxy in play, the accusations by Harry and Meghan, and the departure from the scene of such high-ranking royals does have an impact. The institutions of monarchy are threatened by the accusations of palpable and egregious institutional racism, even in a country where the drowning of people in the English Channel is the subject of political capital and sending people to Rwanda has now become mainstream.
In the janus-faced court of English public opinion, the kind of rabid unhinged views of the likes of Jeremy Clarkson can be platformed and yet a pretence at the same time that a liberal corrective of popular culture is also maintained. Popular culture retains elements of contemporary ‘progressive’ culture while at the same time, in the real world imposing racist policing; a discriminate and violent immigrations policy; relentless misogyny; class war and the surveillance state. You can, for instance, permit a certain level of acceptable homosexuality, diversity or disabled representation on screen, a certain presence of women in sports, while at the same time raining down the most violent and extreme views into the mainstream. The presence of the former does not offset the presence of the latter.
Clarkson’s views were certainly this, a putrid cocktail of racism and sexualised threat, it was what Dr Moya Bailey has dubbed ‘Misogynoir’, Bailey explains:
“So #misogynoir almost cost Meghan Markle her life. She thought of dying by suicide because of the misogynoir she was experiencing. She has all the class and color privilege and still felt this way. Think about the reality for other Black women.”
Bailey also corrects the idea that Meghan Markle somehow isn’t ‘black’ and therefore is immune to racism or misogynoir:
“Identifying as mixed race, or biracial, or as a “woman of color” didn’t protect Meghan from the British press or the living legacy of hypodescent. Additionally, these terms aren’t mutually exclusive from Black identity. Separating people who have historically and currently been read as Black into a distinct racial group because they also have a white parent does not end racism, nor does it mitigate misogynoir. My tweet was a call to consider how much worse the experience of negotiating misogynoir is for Black women with different facial features, darker skin, and less wealth than Meghan Markle.”
We don’t need to identify with minor royals or support the sideshow to condemn the vitriol coming down from Britain’s media elite. The irony is of course the misdirection to think that an institution like the royal family — based on blood lines — could be reformed or revised into a democratic or open one. This is of course a liberal fantasy.
Read Moya Bailey’s book ‘Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance’ here.
Complain to the Independent Press Standards Organisation here.