British actor whom I’ve never heard of, Laurence Fox, has caused quite a stir as a result of an appearance on a TV show “Question Time” last week. Fox apparently didn’t get the memo that all respectable people – and certainly all members of the creative community (I was going to type “fraternity” but that’s clearly sexist and exclusionary) – have to hold identical pre-approved positions on political, economic and social issues as he proceeded to express a series of “controversial” opinions on everything from the Duchess of Sussex to racism in British society. He then compounded his error in a newspaper interview, where he admitted, inter alia, that he does not date “woke” women, having recently dumped a girlfriend who liked the “all men are potential sexual predators” (I’m paraphrasing slightly) Gillette ad, which saw the company’s share price tumble and revenues drop.
There has been an outpouring of righteous (and self-righteous) outrage and indignation directed at Fox, including the now all-too-common calls for a boycott. Perhaps there has recently been a tipping point reached where social media mobs are no longer successful in automatically cancelling people they disapprove of as the actor appears to be alive and well and gainfully employed so far. Time will tell. In the meantime, however, I have been enjoying an article by one Vicki Spratt on the Refinery 29 website:
There’s nothing funny about the things Fox – or Wokey McWokeface as he now wants to be known – is saying. It’s also not particularly sad. It’s dangerous. He is just one very privileged man, and as a result of said privilege, has been given a platform. And he has used that platform to legitimise a bigger backlash against diversity and progress which is unfolding every single day in less public corners of the internet.
Not wanting to date “woke” women, far from being laughable, is actually one of the more insidious aspects of it. Spend an afternoon on any major dating app and you’ll come across (generally white) men saying openly sexist and misogynistic things. They might say “no psychos” or that they “fucking hate big eyebrows” in their bios. And, by and large, they also tend to hold extremely right-wing views and see themselves as victims of liberal thinking.
In fact, as I was writing this, a dear friend sent me a screenshot of a guy she’s just matched with who describes Jordan B Peterson as his “dream dinner guest”. Yes, the same Jordan B Peterson who thinks that white privilege is a “Marxist lie” and wants millennials to drop their obsession with “social justice”.
The article, in fact, is the perfect example why Fox is right.
The question that first springs to mind is why women like Spratt are so upset that someone like Fox wouldn’t want to date them – or, why would they want to go out with a Nazi? But it’s a wrong question; the Spratts of this world don’t want the Foxes of this world to date, they want them to die out.
Which leads to another question: what kind of a man would want to date a woman like Vicki Spratt? In other words, what sort of a pathetic, masochistic, boneless male would you have to be to enjoy a relationship where you have to constantly apologise for having testicles and (most likely) white skin pigmentation? I can’t imagine anything worse than being stuck in the same room as Vicki for even a few minutes, much less potentially a lifetime, and judging from the few hundred comments her article has now generated, neither can most others.
Politics, of course is a spectrum. And people are more than just their political beliefs; character, temperament and personality matter very much.
I know that because I have always had a lot of very dear friends who share little or nothing with me politically but we manage to have great inter-personal relationships nevertheless. This is because we recognise that politics is not the be-all-end-all in life and that two people can have different views on issues without one of them being an evil monster. This used to be a relatively common attitude a few decades ago but is now very much endangered in our hyper-polarised times.
In fact most of the women I’ve went out with in my life have been broadly on the left. Many remain good friends. Of those that are not, none as far as I’m aware have walked out of my life because of politics. But there is the left and then there is the woke, and here I increasingly agree with Fox. Life’s too short (particularly as you get older when it literally gets shorter and shorter) to try to convince a woman that you are not a devil incarnate and thus teach her a valuable lesson about humanity and tolerance. It was fun and a challenge a few years ago with an anarchist academic, but I suspect I would not have the patience any more. When I recently heard on the first date that my match wouldn’t be visiting Great Britain as long as Boris Johnson was the Prime Minister, my eyes rolled back for a fraction of a second. She was otherwise lovely, but what if I want to go and visit my friends in the next year or two?
I don’t know whether the opposites attract or not. I do believe that successful relationships across political lines are possible if both parties are mature adults. But relationships at the best of time require a lot of work, and strong differences on everything from the same-sex marriage through climate change to immigration policy (or all of the above and more) add one more potential point of friction and conflict. Choose wisely, people. And when the potential partner thinks you are a Nazi, remember: death rather than unconditional surrender.