fightingthecage: (WW - Leo or Gerald?)
[personal profile] fightingthecage

I read a tweet this morning that made me blink - no, not the one I already posted about. This one was a bit more serious, and I made a fairly cool reply. I expected to forget about it, but twelve hours later it's still annoying me.

The author of said tweet was someone called Lisa Bloom, who I'm not really familiar with. I followed her because she wrote an excellent article on raising little girls with the focus on their intelligence, rather than their looks. Most of her tweets are intelligent and positive, and I've no problem with her.

Then this morning, this:

"Hard to get excited about new gender equality for UK royal succession
since they'll still all be white, rich and NOT ELECTED by anyone."


...um?

OK. Well. As I replied to her; the royal family - recent revelations about Charles notwithstanding - do not, or are not supposed to, shape government policy. So how is their 'unelected' status relevant to anything? They're figureheads. Sure, the Queen gives permission for a government to be formed, and dissolved, and technically has the power to stop any bill becoming law. But it's all done by convention. The Queen would no more veto a bill than she'd grow another head. She would never stop an elected Prime Minister forming a government, because that's not how things are done.

A lot of our 'constitution' is made up of conventions, rules that we treat as laws, even though they're officially not. That's what comes of having a Parliament that's around eight hundred years old, though admittedly the monarch was more involved for the first four hundred years or so. Yes, we have an unelected Head of State. Does that Head of State  do anything that directly controls the lives of her citizens? No. More people complain about the unelected nature of the House of Lords, than the Queen. That's understandable, as the Lords are involved with shaping our laws (should also point out, that while they have to pass our laws, they can also be bypassed. So it's not like these unelected people have the very final word, if the government wants to get something through badly enough).

I would also point out that in the UK, after any given general election, we generally end up with a government that more than fifty per cent of the people in the country did not vote for. Tony Blair ruled with, I believe, 39% of the vote. Gordon Brown, 36% (stats from memory, so not 100% accurate).  I have never voted Labour in my life. They still got to run the country. And some American is mouthing off about the Queen being unelected? Please.

As for rich, and white - last I heard, that wasn't a crime, dude. Again, look to government. The majority of politicians in power - rich and white. And yes, that's sad, and wrong. But they have influence. Government should definitely be more diverse. But the royals = not Government. They're a family. There are many, many families in Britain - mine included - that are entirely white. We're not rich, but we're not poor either. Should we be getting slagged off on Twitter, because none of us have, yet, married a person of colour?

I like to think that if Prince Harry wanted to marry a black woman, or an Asian woman, or anyone non-white, that it'd be fine. There would undoubtedly be comment on it, and we'd never know what conversations went on behind closed doors. But in this day and age, guess what? The royals are not the archaic, blind institution they once were. No matter what private thoughts on the matter were, they would never be able to stop Harry marrying someone of colour, because of the PR angle. It's bound to happen eventually, and when it does, I hope that no one gets on Twitter and starts sighing with relief about how the royals have finally stopped being a racist, outmoded organisation, with some kind of agenda. They're people. OK, there are expectations of them, but that's as much the media as actual knowledge about them themselves. If Harry married a black girl, you can bet your bottom dollar it'd be all the talking heads, and satire merchants, and spin doctors that would get all up in arms about it.

I don't know. Stuff like this bugs the hell out of me. And much as I don't like what it says about me, I have to admit - the majority of my ire, I think, comes from this comment coming from an American. Given Lisa Bloom's background as a Yale-educated lawyer, and an author, I would have expected better. You know what, Lisa Bloom? Your country elected its first black President three years ago. Three. Not three hundred. Three. Every single other President before that? Rich and white. We've had monarchs in this country for thousands of years, and the current lady that sits on the throne can trace her line back to William the Conqueror, in 1066. This lady was not brought up to sit on the throne, but had it forced upon her. And she didn't bitch and moan, or run away because it didn't suit, like her uncle did. She took responsibility, and has given her life to what she sees as her duty. As of next February, she'll have been doing the job for sixty years. And you know what? Any Prime Minister, any President in the world, would give their right arm for the kind of approval ratings she's had during that time. Including yours. So bag on your own Head of State, and STFU about ours.



...right. OK. I feel better now. /royalist rant

Date: 2011-11-01 11:33 pm (UTC)
ashen_key: (I want to be a hunter again)
From: [personal profile] ashen_key
I think the main thing that annoys me about the "oh, they are just white and rich" comment is...because they are white and rich, this means they should just suck up the sexism as well? I really, really, REALLY don't get that attitude, at all.

(and my thoughts re: monarchy are complicated! but that's more colonial issues than a problem with the monarchy as an institution, so, not the place for it)

You know what, Lisa Bloom? Your country elected its first black President three years ago. Three. Not three hundred. Three. Every single other President before that? Rich and white.

Yeah, THIS. So very, very, very much this.

Date: 2011-11-01 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fightingthecage.livejournal.com
I...there are some many things about the statement that just make my jaw drop. Maybe it's not fair to judge on it, given that it's 140 characters or less, but if she had deeper thoughts on it, trying to summarise on Twitter was probably not the way to go.

And yes. So. We shouldn't care that royal women can now succeed directly, seing as they're just this unelected, rich white family that is clearly all wrong. Perhaps we should immediately get rid of them, and adopt a different system? Like, the American one, perhaps? Because that would be perfect for absolutely every other nation on Earth, right? No sexism, or rich white people running things in America. *FURY*

(Colonial issues with monarchy - understandable, in this day and age. Eventually, they'll ask Australia if they still want the Queen as HoS, and you'll all say 'no, thanks'. And then she'll go away. But that day isn't here yet, I think.)

I think I was wrong, you know. It wasn't just that it was an American making the statement. It was the arrogance of it - sterotypical American arrogance. And not all Americans are like that at all, but if you took this Tweet as an example, then you could certainly imagine they were.

Date: 2011-11-01 11:49 pm (UTC)
lady_bols: (s1 cracking (CID))
From: [personal profile] lady_bols
Americans do not understand the entire phenomenon of royalty. It is anathema to the whole American consciousness. In America, there is supposedly no such thing as "class" as it exists in Britain. (Horse shit, I know, but there you are.) Much of the "American dream" is that we are an upwardly mobile society, and that anyone, anyone at all, can be richer than God.

Personally, as someone who spent the first twenty years of her working life doing that dance, paying the taxes, competing with the Jones's to get ahead, I know now how much of a rip that really is. The American Dream is something the Rich sell to the Middle Class, along with a healthy dose of Fear of the Poor, to keep their heads down and working so they don't notice how little ahead they're actually getting.

So while your twitter acquaintance is ranting about how white, rich and unelected the Queen is, notice how little people are ranting about how white, rich and unelected Big Oil and Big Pharma are over here, or how few people know that there are something like 26 lobbyists per Congressmen and 217 lobbyists per Senator as of 2010.

And that's why there are people camping in Zucotti Park, and other areas around the world. /minirant

Date: 2011-11-02 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fightingthecage.livejournal.com
Having no understanding of royalty, I can understand. What I can't understand, then, is thinking it's OK to make comments like the one above. If royalty isn't something you understand, then keep your mouth closed about it. Everything about that tweet says to me that this woman is seeing us through 'EVERYTHING MUST BE DEMOCRATIC (and American)' goggles - and that's just wrong. And as I said to Ashie, arrogant. Hence, my back being firmly up.

Word to your take on The American Dream. We bought it over here in the late eighties, with Thatcher, and it's been becoming more prevalent ever since. I think the difference with us is that we came from years and years of the class structure (still firmly in place, depsite everything), and the mad rush of consumerism came later - and the backlash against it started not long after that, so it's only entrenched with certain sub-sects of society. The middle class here are, I personally believe, far less likely to buy into The Dream once they get to a certain age, and there are active movements against it, in some quarters (just as in America).

So while it does dominate with some, it also lives alongside the class system, and the traditional ways of royalty and the basic fact that, as a people, we're just not that...I can't find the word. We're far less likely to push ourselves forward. There's like an ingrained 'know your place' for most of us. It feels almost like it's part of the British DNA. It's weird.

And WORD to everything about the influence of Big Oil et al. And lobbyists. I can't even. I've written so many essays, and taken exams, on the difference between Presidential and Prime Ministerial power and the power of lobbyists never fails to make my jaw drop. It's like the US government is basically not in control of itself (not exactly news, to a degree), but it's scary how little exposure that gets over here. America is billed as Leader of the Free World, with it's hands tied behind it's back by it's own top companies.

Of course, now I'm making generalised statements on a country not my own. Also, business interests wield power here too, of course, but not to the degree of in the US. But yeah. I just...the mind boggles with some of this stuff, seriously.
Edited Date: 2011-11-02 12:10 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-11-02 12:38 am (UTC)
lady_bols: (s1 cracking (CID))
From: [personal profile] lady_bols
"keep your mouth closed" -- Ahahaha, have you met Americans before? We're the greatest country in the world! (TONGUE PLANTED FIRMLY IN CHEEK) Didn't you hear? Everyone else wants to be just like us! (EYEROLL)

I think Americans would be much more happy if we knew you didn't have to be stinking rich to be "happy" as it's sold to us. The idea that you don't need more than you can afford is also anathema now. The idea that a sustainable low impact footprint of a life is still one that is quite good is just strange and foreign to most of the consumer populace. And until we pass the point where we're chasing the impossible reality tv lifestyle, we're going to be stuck being unhappy. And there's profit in that. There's a whole way of life built around making profit off of people being unhappy. So if you know your place, then, how can you possibly seek to move beyond that comfortable happy life? Please. (MORE EYEROLLING)

I think one of the greatest crimes we are committing against our children today is the lack of critical thinking being taught in schools, which would allow an educated populace to question the influence of Big Oil and Big Pharma. I think one of the reasons you're seeing such a violent backlash against the Occupy movement is that we're scaring the shit out of the people who think they can go on this way in perpetuity.

Also, I'm drinking at the pub, so the rant may be a bit unfocused. But I seriously miss our discussions like this. :P <3

ETA: Wow, that was far more coherent than I'd feared. Go tipsy me!
Edited Date: 2011-11-02 05:28 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-11-02 11:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rowanberries.livejournal.com
<3

Also, America can talk when they've had as many women Presidents as we've had Queens.

Even as many Queens as were actual rulers!

(I won't say I'm not still ambivalent about the monarchy - but dammit, they're ours!)

Date: 2011-11-02 11:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fightingthecage.livejournal.com
THIS. Man, I didn't even think about the lack of female Presidents. Probably a good thing, as I would have exploded further.

But, yes. Ours. Back off, everyone else.

Date: 2011-11-02 08:27 pm (UTC)
winding_path: (Alex -- Oh Dear)
From: [personal profile] winding_path
Oh, good Lord.

(Though the notion that there should somehow be a way to elect people into a family -- ooh, maybe through a reality show? -- is just kind of ridiculous.)

But, yeah. Setting aside Obama and Kennedy, our Presidents have all been white, male, Protestant, and not exactly wondering where the next meal was going to come from. (And our ratios don't get that much better when you expand to the rest of national or state government.) Furthermore, if you wanna get really technical about it, they're elected by a VERY SMALL group of people, since we don't have direct election of the President. (Which, you know, to me as an American, is kind of a more pressing thing to be concerned about.)

Date: 2011-11-02 09:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fightingthecage.livejournal.com
That was a far more polite initial reaction to it than I had, believe me. :D

(HAHAHA. That would take reality TV to an all-new low. But I think she wasn't suggeting that Royal Family members get elected to the institution - because omg, what? - but that the Queen sits as Head of State, while being unelected by anyone.)

And dude, we don't have direct election of the Prime Minister either - even less control than you have over the election of the President, in fact. And you're right, that is far more important than bemoaning the unelected status of our Royal Family. In fact, this is the first time I've heard someone complain that the Queen is unelected. It's totally bizarre to me.
Edited Date: 2011-11-02 09:39 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-11-02 10:01 pm (UTC)
winding_path: (Alex -- Oh Dear)
From: [personal profile] winding_path
(Well, no, I don't think she was suggesting that, either, but since she lacked the space to elaborate . . . she did kind of suggest that y'all needed to be electing poor, non-Caucasians into the line of succession.)

I'm not really aware of any place outside Star Wars a Queen is elected. And then the next thing you know, you've got Jar-Jar running around. So that's best avoided.

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