Saturday, 17 January 2015

A young boy thinks girls are genetically programmed for housework

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Victor Beltran, a 12 year old boy, has won the Junior Masterchef competition in Spain but become notorious for saying, when contestants were asked to clean their stoves,
“My goodness, I’m surrounded by girls, and girls already know how to clean because of genetics.”
Rocío, a 12-year old girl, immediately warned him,
“Eh, eh, eh, watch what you say.”
He was then ordered to clean the entire kitchen as a punishment but his punishment has continued in the media. His mother was abjectly apologetic, the Spanish media mortified. 

How far things have changed since General Franco's day. The Generalissimo forbade married women to go out to work.

The Guardian, unsurprisingly, felt the story would appeal to its readers and you can read the article here. The comments under the article are fun, the ones that the Guardian moderator did not remove. I wonder what the ones that were removed said.

I liked this informative comment:

He couldn't be further from the truth
Women may enjoy cleaning more, but the average female's kitchen is about 5x more dangerous because they use the same wash cloth on multiple surfaces, generally spreading bacteria around, whereas men rely more on antibacterial products 
Also interesting to note a woman's handbag harbours more bacteria than a toilet 
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2324247/Womens-handbags-contaminated-bacteria-average-toilet.html
And the inevitable immediate response to this comment:
The Daily Mail? Nice choice. 
The comment on the Mail got 47 likes. On the internet, whenever anyone posts a link to or quotes the Daily Mail, the subject immediately changes from whatever was being discussed to the Mail. The Daily Mail is the sin eater of British life.

The Guardian readership inhabit their own time-space continuum, contiguous with but distinct from our world. The legendary editor of the Daily Telegraph (and model for William Boot in ScoopWilliam Deedes used to read the Guardian letters page each day for laughs but it has always frightened me.

Sexual and racial equality and homosexuality have taken the place of the sacred in Catholic Spain as much as everywhere else in Western Europe and the boy has gravely offended against this secular religion's fundamental tenets. Being only 12 mitigates the offence, but only partly.

Still the Guardian writer possibly felt slightly sorry for the boy, despite everything. She ends her story with his poignant words
“Everyone took it as if I were an adult, but I’m just a kid.”

32 comments:

  1. Ugh. Such a story of "our time". I feel like social media is playing reruns of the "The Crucible" on a loop half the time. Lurching from one witch hunt to the next.

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    1. Michelle, you are right. It is not funny, even though it is.

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  2. I do it all — the shopping the cooking the cleaning the gardening. But that's because I crave order and perfection. Can't trust a woman to do it right, your bacteria harboring handbags point that out. You might say I'm OCD, but I prefer to think that I've expanded the Zen tea ceremony to the entire home. Sorry, must be off to vacuum some rugs, as I proceed on my journey to unglimpsable completeness.

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  3. Marks and Sparks are also out of line for thinking dinosaurs interest boys rather than girls. Apparently there is a voluntary code of practice on children's clothes endorsed by the Government in 2011 - after the mainly Conservative government came to power. http://www.letclothesbeclothes.org/the-dinosaur-on-the-high-street-an-open-letter-to-ms-kidswear/

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  4. I think both woman and man can do it, maybe it’s a cultural matter as well. You probably know in Egypt only man are housekeepers, both at home as well as hotels and everything.  I felt really pampered when I was there.

    Have a perfect week.

    M

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    1. Indeed women and men can do it. A friend of mine has a cleaning man instead of a cleaning lady. Personally however poor I was - and I was certainly short of cash at times - I was never so poor that I had to do the housework. As a child I assumed I would have to and it did quite a lot to put me off adulthood.

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  5. My grandson, then about ten years old, who had a 'girlfriend' was asked by his father what it meant to have a girlfriend. He replied 'you get them to do jobs for you'. No comment.

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  6. The handbag 'research', done in America I believe, looked at the handbags that had been put on the floor of the loo. I would NEVER put a bag on the floor of the loo and don't know anyone else who would.

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  7. Very interesting debate! And as usual well written.
    But I have one question: what about the long acclaimed and hot subject of free speech ? A boy (12 years old!!!!) said something (wrong or correct-it doesn’t matter). It was his right to express his naïve opinion, wasn’t it? As much as the French caricaturist had their “right” to mock the Islam. Why is this one punished and the French are heroes?
    Mihaela

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    1. I could not agree more. It was outrageous that they made him clean all the ovens as a punishment. Had he been 19 and at university he would probably have found it hard to get a job though. As this girl did: http://gawker.com/5529322/racist-harvard-law-email-the-cat-fight-that-turned-into-a-national-scandal-updated

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  8. I don't know... I am old-fashioned and I would say that the boy was right... L.

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  9. Hi Paul, I see you are finding more good topics. This is nice. The boy is 12. It's sad that these days one cannot cut him some slack. How it becomes a big story I do not know.
    Age will mellow him and bring wisdom and I am sure that we were all saying silly things when we were 12. At least, I think I was!
    But like you, I do worry about the silence that will now be the order of the day.
    George S.

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    1. He sounds like he has the makings of a social conservative.

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  10. 12 years old! Poor kid, he was just repeating what he'd heard some adult saying. He deserved to be laughed out of it, not punished. I'd have said 'Who told you that? Do you believe all the **** that you hear? Now get on & clean that stove, or you're out of the competition'. The matter ends, & doesn't (& shdn't) get into the papers.
    But as to the comments, it blows my mind how some people, presumably much more than 12 years old, still think it's OK to argue in terms of 'men' & 'women', as if these were separate species each with its own unalterable characteristics that are applicable to every individual member of the species. Does one actually have to point out that, apart from the basic physical difference, this is not the case? Any more than Jews or Christians or Muslims, or Shias or Sunnis, or Oxonians or Cantabridgians, or Celtic or Rangers supporters, or Germans or Russians or Italians or Scots or South Africans, or with skin-colour white or black or yellow or purple, or...or...or....
    Give's a break.
    Janet

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    1. I am sure he did not hear it but thought it up for himself.

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    2. We cd. argue endlessly about whether it's more likely that the lad was repeating someone else's comment or thought it up for himself---on the basis of things he had heard or been taught. We shall never know, that's not a point worth pursuing.
      Of course women & men have been socially/culturally programmed in different ways, which is why you (& I in certain contexts) approach them differently. I (& surely you too) also treat some (categories of) women, & men, differently from others. I don't suggest that in general certain groups/categories/species/sexes don't have characteristics in common, only that when it comes down to it we're all individuals, & each one of us has processed our heredity & our nurture differently.
      My objection was to comments like the ones appearing in your blog implying that ALL women's kitchen's are dirtier than ALL men's, or a male correspondent not trusting [any] woman to do the housework. How can people write such ****?

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    3. My life experience has taught me that it is hard to overestimate how different women and men are. When I have said that in the past to feminists in England they were shocked (not so people in Romania where I have lived for many years). Yet my life experience has also taught me that most people, even if they are feminist, are in practice more aware than I of how different the sexes are.

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  11. I don't think he permitted a "thought crime" - this whole incident is entirely not significant enough to merit such a grandiloquent title. He said something unkind (women are routinely told they "belong in the home" by our patriarchal society, so for him to repeat that tired old maxim is at the very least rude), that is also untrue. It is impossible for any biologically sex to be "genetically better at housework" - for the simple reason that housework is a highly complex, culturally inflected set of tasks: so any link with genetics would doubtless be highly complex in itself, linking with thousands of genes across many different chromosomes. In sum: saying something that is both false, and upsetting for members of a marginalised group is worthy of punishment because it demonstrates a lack of consideration for others.
    Jonathan

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    1. Are women routinely told they "belong in the home" by our patriarchal society? I doubt it very much to judge by the reaction to the poor boy's remark and I do not think our society is in the least patriarchal -it's explicitly feminist - feminism is imposed by law in a very authoritarian manner as I try to suggest. Even in Spain which was once the home of blind reaction.

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    2. It is true our society is becoming increasingly feminist - and a good thing too. But you can't make 4,000 years of patriarchy vanish by making an overly glib young boy clean the kitchen once, and doing so certainly isn't authoritarian - considering that women still do the lion's share of free domestic labour (http://time.com/2895235/men-housework-women/). It will take time, reform, and hard work to instil genuine equality in our society, and - until the men in black boots come from Whitehall to raid the offices of The Sun in order to shut down page 3 - I will be loathed to refer to any of it as "authoritarian".

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    3. http://pvewood.blogspot.ro/2014/01/today-106-years-ago-simone-de-beauvoir.html

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  12. I think it is you who inhabits a different time-space continuum on this occasion. Outside its loyal readers, the Daily Mail is considered a ridiculous paranoid rag that tells people that broccoli causes cancer and warns them about the evils of recycling.

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    1. Outside the Mail's loyal readers, who are perfectly decent men and women, are many people like me who think the paper is sometimes a rare independent voice defying the liberal consensus, though at other times it is part of that consensus. I thought for example that its piece on Ed Miliband's Marxist father was very timely and a very valuable contribution to the political debate.
      When I was in my 20s it was 'The Sun' that right thinking people hated and 'The Sun' was an untrustworthy and malicious though very readable rag. No-one seems to mind the Daily Mirror, for some reason, though its standards are certainly not higher than the Mail's.

      I think the Guardian does the most harm of all the papers. It depends on your point of view, I suppose.

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    2. Oh and it also supported Hitler. Actions speak.

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    3. Yes it did indeed, in 1933 and 1934. I never could stand the paper when I lived in England, found it rancid and class-prejudiced, but after Mr. Blair brought about such a pronounced leftward shift in popular culture the Mail became one of the few voices that occasionally speaks up somewhat hesitantly against the new consensus. It thus performs a great service to democracy, when less and less freedom of speech still exists.

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    4. Anyway, my point is that you can't really accuse Guardian readers that they live in a world of their own just because they disregard the Daily Mail since a lot a lot of other people do to.

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    5. I do not accuse them of living in an unattractive world of their own because they dislike the Mail but because of their other views. For example, their attitude to young boys who say girls are genetically programmed for housework.

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    6. When Robert Maxwell went for a midnight swim he was a hero to Anne Robinson and other media elite people. When the revelation that he stole from the company became known he was a thief and his previous support from acolytes conveniently forgotten.

      Funny also how the Guardian and Mirror had no problems obtaining stories in exactly the same way as News International's News of the World.

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  13. Hi Paul - you not on Facebook any more? Caroline

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    1. I suspended my account but please email me.

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  14. comedy should be always neat and clean. Comedians can make people laugh by clean jokes. They should not use non veg jokes.

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