Unless you have been thoroughly cut off from any news source for the past 24 hours, you will no doubt have seen that at a select committee inquiry, Rupert Murdoch narrowly escaped a pie to the face, defended by his wife’s quick reflexes. There has been the usual lefty squabbling over the pie, and I will not go into it. For what it’s worth, I think it was bloody hilarious, although Jonnie Marbles’s timing could have been somewhat better, but really, we shouldn’t spend too long arguing over pie when the government sneaked in privatisation of a chunk of the NHS. These two articles by Laurie Penny and Tim Hardy sum up how I feel about the matter rather beautifully.
In his deconstruction of the pie, Tim says:
The role of the clown is to show the ridiculousness of power.
This was pulled off beautifully in the pie-stunt for the most part, but of course some nasty stuff crawled out of the woodwork with it.
The reaction to Wendi Deng’s pie-defence has a strong whiff of sexism to it. The Telegraph saw fit to run a series of pictures of the woman in question, for no real reason other than it had an excuse to run pictures of a woman, the Torygraph being one of those newspapers which pretends to be above frantic masturbation over the female form. The Guardian ran a piece about how Wendi Deng’s action had lifted the image of Chinese women.
Then there is this blogpost, “TROPHY WOMEN ALWAYS PROTECT THEIR MAN“. In six short lines, it manages to convey a range of stereotypes about women who marry rich men. That is all Deng is, apparently. A trophy wife.
The stench of racism also clings to the reaction, with numerous tweets referring to ninja skills and karate moves, explicitly referencing Deng’s ethnicity. It is a pity that something as gleefully silly as a pie can draw out such unpleasant opinions. Perhaps they would be less jarringly offensive if they mentioned the pie, highlighting the ridiculousness of such opinions.
On the other hand, patriarchal constructions have been somewhat harmful to Murdoch. Our media is, ultimately, steeped in the beliefs of the oppressive system that spawned it. For a powerful man to be defended by “his” woman ultimately reflects badly on the powerful man: it shows his weakness.
It is ridiculous that this sort of thing could in any way damage Murdoch, but such is power and such is patriarchy.
It started with a pie. What will come out next?