Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Going Nuts

The previous post went on a bit. (If you want a snappier list of good reasons to suspect Gove's true intentions, read Chris at S&M here). Sadly, there wasn't room to address Gove's second train of thought, if you'll forgive the expression, on protecting the family.

(Yes, the family. The strongest, most vital social unit known to man, set fair to be the salvation of our nation's ills yet also an institution all but overwhelmed by hostile liberal forces, able to survive only through tax-breaks, free nannies and the strong protecting hand of government.)

Anyhow, families are under threat (again!) this time from weekly lad's mags.

That's why I believe we need to ask tough questions about the instant-hit hedonism celebrated by the modern men's magazines targeted at younger males. Titles such as Nuts and Zoo paint a picture of women as permanently, lasciviously, uncomplicatedly available. The images they use and project reinforce a very narrow conception of beauty and a shallow approach towards women. They celebrate thrill-seeking and instant gratification without ever allowing any thought of responsibility towards others, or commitment, to intrude.
This is just bizarre. Young men fantasising about no-strings-attached sex with oiled-up bimbos? Truly, these are strange and troubling times indeed. Gove doesn't give us any actual evidence that Nuts and Zoo readers are more likely to a) become fathers or b) do their women wrong. Nor does he suggest that he'll actually do anything about it. "Asking tough questions" is easy: can we expect a Tory government to ban or censor lad's mags? Maybe each photospread should be accompanied by a couple of paragraphs on how the model is a real person who deserves the reader's respect. Will we perhaps see a new boob-tax on pictures of naked women, with money ring-fenced to support* single mothers?

Of course not - this isn't anything to do with policy. The key paragraphs in the speech came earlier:
I think that the right was wrong to get hung up on homosexuality. I think we
indulged prejudice in the 80s and missed the point. It's not gay men who are abusing women and abandoning children – it's straight men. And the demand for civil partnerships, proper inheritance rights and equality in adoption rights from gay couples is not a rejection of commitment but a desire to see commitment celebrated and publicly embraced. It is right and moral. I also think the right was wrong in its rhetoric about single mothers. We need to recognise that it's those fathers who've abandoned their responsibilities, not mothers left holding the baby, who should be challenged about their behaviour.

Gove has just "detoxified" the Tories by announcing they're now officially OK with single mothers and gays - he's got to give the troops something they can blame for the hideous, savage mess they want to believe the country's in. And maybe feckless seed-scattering 21-year olds deserve it. But I don't think he's thought this through. If pictures of naked women are warping the moral fabric of the nation's youth, surely he's missed a trick. Nuts and Zoo have a weekly circulation of 0.5 million: why on earth isn't Gove attacking the multi-million circulation, politically influential, Murdoch-owned Sun?

*Yes, yes: and uplift


Tom Freeman said...

"I think we indulged prejudice in the 80s"

No, not "indulged" - "had". Or maybe "believed in", "felt deeply", "championed" or "enjoyed". And not just in the 80s.

Andrew R said...

Yes. Also, "the right was wrong in it's rhetoric on single mothers". Policies were ok, though, eh?

Tom Freeman said...

Yep. I particularly like the whole "Conservative means to achieve progressive ends" thing. In other words, they're going to do much the same thing they've always done, but this time it's going to reduce poverty rather than increase it.