The Blog

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But 'Posh' Is Starting to Hurt Me

In the media recently there has been, as their always is, people brandishing the 'public school' iron, tarnishing those of us who went to public school. The media is turning our education into a negative.

I went to public school. There, I said it. It's out in the open. My parents sent me there when I was pretty young (12) and I stayed until I was 18. My parents loved me. They loved me so much in fact, that they sacrificed their lives, putting aside huge quantities of their incomes, to allow me to have a really quite phenomenal education. And it paid off. I got a good degree, some would argue two, and I have a great job. I was very fortunate, as many public school children are (we're not all aristocracy I can assure you) and I whole-heartedly believe it was the best thing for me. I will, if I can afford it, be sending my children to public school and not for any reason other than the fact that the benefits i've personally experienced far outweigh the negative perception society has of it.

My education only plays a minor role in who I am as a person. It does not define me. Let's not get into a debate about nature vs. nurture here. Arguably I was nurtured in a boarding school environment but I was very much brought up on the values held by my parents. I am a product of both of them, cultivated within a privileged environment, surrounded by a 100 acre arboretum and a tuck-shop (sweet shop) that housed an Assyrian frieze valued at £7.7milllion. But do you care? Because you shouldn't. Where I went to school is part of my past, it is not my present. Well, until someone makes it that way. Yes, I was fortunate. Yes, I was given a different start in life. Yes, the people I met have perhaps given me certain 'head starts'. But just because privilege comes with automatic rewards doesn't mean it should come with automatic condemnation.

In the media recently there has been, as their always is, people brandishing the 'public school' iron, tarnishing those of us who went to public school. The media is turning our education into a negative. Last week the London School of Economics decided to shut down its student union over a booklet that had been created by the university's men's rugby club after it caused understandable outrage. It not only described women as "mingers", "trollops" and "slags" (among other things), it condemned "outright homosexual debauchery" and pervaded an outright snobbery against other universities. In short, it was misguided misogynistic "bigotry masked as banter".

There have been numerous articles written about the leaflet and, in turn, the rugby team who is to blame for it and almost every piece of press has hurled a barrage of abuse at public schools. Vice published an article that outright called for the rugby team to 'stop tying their public school ties in tight knots around each others' dicks'. Where does this assumption that these boys are from Public School come from? Many people have expressed a belief that because these men play rugby, they must be from public school and because they went to public school, they should know better. What flawed logic. Many people who didn't go to public school play rugby you know. Many people who didn't go to public school go to LSE you know. Many people who didn't go to public school are also twats you know.

Oh wait, is it because the general populace sees public school figureheads like Boris Johnson and David Cameron acting unfavourably every now again and naively think that because they went to public school they don't 'get' the rest of the population? What's wrong with us all? In the instance of those in government who people believe don't understand the poor because they've never been so, Polly Toynbee was right when she said, "what matters is less where politicians come from than whose side they are on". Those who agree with their policies don't care about where they went to school but for those who don't, 'public school' is an easy slur.

Let's look at Dapper Laughs who has been in the media recently for his misogynistic and outright disgraceful view of the world/women. ITV2's new Clapham 'geezer' revolves around being a self-styled 'pulling magnet' whose comedy is cruel without any sort of conscience. Sound familiar? Both Dapper Laughs and the rugby team of LSE seem to treat women like nothing more than holes that need filling - but why are people discussing ones upbringing and not the other?

You don't hear anyone shouting 'yeah he's a dickhead because he went to the local comprehensive'. You don't have people excusing his behaviour because he probably got 1 A-level in Design Technology and therefore his ignorance is, well, understandable. Just because Dapper Laughs didn't go to public school, doesn't make him any less of a moron than someone who did but if The Independent were correct when they wrote "...his appearance on television might at least offer something different from the dominant strain of middle-class comedy forged in the JCRs of Oxbridge" you're a cunt either way.


Imagine how you would react if Alan Carr turned round and made a derogatory comment about, say, how those on benefits don't deserve handouts unless they're actively seeking work. What would happen if people turned around and said 'Ignore him- he's gay'. There would be pandemonium and why? Because his sexuality has nothing to do with his opinions. Have we all not the right to be judged on our merits rather than members of some or other 'box'? Sexual orientation defines a person no more than affluence. Gay doesn't define Alan Carr any more than education defines the LSE rugby boys.

Going to public school or being defined as 'posh' has become a sweeping generalisation-based insult and, as someone in the line of fire, I wont stand for it. Chloe Jasmine, the X-Factor contestant adorning most of the tabloids at the moment, is too subject to the baying masses who are frothing at the mouth at the fact she is 'other'. Half the column inches spent discussing her, discuss that she went to public school and how 'posh' she is. As it happens, Chloe and I went to the same school and do you know what the real shame is? That people aren't discussing her incredible talent. At Judge's Houses, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini commented that Chloe would be deemed 'unsuitable' as an X Factor contestant due to her poshness. To this, Chloe quite rightly replied that she was "just a normal girl". Luckily the media were on hand to show us all how 'different' she is from the rest of the masses because she apparently likes to attend 'posh' orgies. Posh orgies? What's posh about an orgy? Do they give out chlamydia in bottles of Goût de Diamants? Sign, me, up, darHling.

Over the weekend, Yahoo published an article asking 'But can posh people be underdogs? Can someone who went to an elite private school, with no known tale of tragedy, lure enough public support to win the X-Factor?' Where has this perception that privately educated people haven't experienced tragedy come from? I know for a fact that Chloe has gone through her fair share of tragedy and I applaud her for not bringing any of it up in some long winded monologue to the tune of Christina Aguilera's Beautiful on Saturday night TV. Chloe knows, as I do, that merit ultimately wins. Is the X-Factor not ultimately built upon that premise? I don't think One Direction didn't win the X-Factor in 2010 because they were 'un-liked'. On the contrary, I think they're the most liked 5people on the planet.

If the X-Factor is only about class, why are there no articles siting Ben Haenow as low-class scum? Oh, he's not? But I thought he drove a white-van for a living? But that doesn't make him poor and sans education? Oh, that's social prejudice... I get it now. So we don't condemn Ben for being what, poor-ish- but it's okay to condemn Chloe for being perceived as rich? Hating posh people just because they're posh is every bit as supercilious as hating poor people just because they're poor. What the journalists are ultimately saying is that Ben has more of a chance of winning because he isn't touching the class-ceiling. He's less of an uncomfortable vote for the nation. This country disgusts me sometimes.

In the same way that the BBC described 'chav' as 'the most divisive word in Britain' in 2011, 'posh' or 'public school' is now its contemporary counterpart. 'Posh' should not be used as a smokescreen for class hatred in the same way that 'chav' shouldn't. If we are taught not to mock the poor, neither should we attack the wealthy or educated (not oft cut from the same cloth). I don't want to outlaw the word 'posh'- this is not George Orwell's 1984- but I will fight for it to not stand for something negative. It's a descriptor, not a stigma.

There seems to be such a heavy distain for 'other' in Britain at present but in the same way that we fight for feminism, the abolition of racism etc., I ask that we fight for Egalitarianism too. In the pseudo-egalitarian society that is Britain, the rich seem to be suffering from 'poshism' and the poor are derided as 'chavs' and I think its all-superfluous nonsense. 'Poshism' cannot become a thing; I do not want to fight for the right to be treated as an equal based on the fact I was afforded a better education than most. By all means, let's recognise that privilege exists and fight to eradicate unfair privilege from our culture, but let's stop using it as an insult. Aren't we all brighter than this? Or do you need to go to private school to see that?