Robbie Williams was in Dublin on Friday to launch Farrell, his menswear range that will be retailing in upmarket clothes store, BT2 - and, you know, to play a sold-out charity concert in the city's O2 Arena. While in town, he entertained a panel of visitors in BT2's older sister store, Brown Thomas, and chatted with Georgie Gavin, a radio journalist with city radio station, Spin 1038.
When Gavin asked Williams what his favourite thing about Ireland was, Williams, ever the comic and all-round cheeky chappie, replied: "Your breasts! Honestly, I can't stop staring at them." The Spin 1038 team saw the "funny" side and rushed to Twitter to tell the world of Robbie's hilarious quip; the breasts in question were photographed by the surrounding photographers, while the journalist in question thought it was "too funny". But...was it really?
In one fell swoop, Williams had reduced Gavin - an intelligent young woman and successful journalist - to, for want of a better term, the sum of her tits. It didn't matter what she had to say, just as it didn't matter what questions she was asking him. To him, and to everyone in the room, she became little more than a piece of meat (the role women have played, lest we forget, for centuries on end).
Sadly, this is not the first time Ireland has dealt with a tits on the radio type of situation, nor is it the first time it has failed to see the seriousness of the offence caused by this kind of mindless, misogynistic objectification of women. In fact, several other radio stations replayed the clip throughout the day, with many DJs commenting on Williams' "cheek" in a jovial, envious spirit.
Every time a woman - or a man, for that matter - objects to the routine objectification of women by men in positions of authority or celebrity, they are accused of being humourless, in need of a bit of relaxation (and then some) and lacking in some sort of obscure funny bone that allows us to see the hilarity inherent in blatant sexism.
But how would they feel if that were their sister, their daughter, their friend - a young woman trying her hardest to be successful in a patriarchal society, in spite of the fact that the very foundations of that society are geared towards her failure - being humiliated and told, basically, "you're nothing but a pair of tits" in front of a waiting room of fellow journalists? Amused? Doubtful.
Georgie Gavin might think this is "too funny", as may her colleagues in Spin 1038 - but they are all failing to see the damage caused to society as a whole by the consistent humiliation and objectification of women. And until they see that, well, perhaps we're fighting a losing battle.
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