Laurence Fox’s latest outrage (it’s hard to keep up) is a live on-air outburst on GB News, no stranger itself to controversy (see previous parentheses), in which he verbally attacked Ava Evans, a political reporter for the online news site, Joe. Needless to say, Fox disagrees with her politics, and started his rant by calling her “a little woman”, before descending into a vicious personal attack predicated on his evaluation of her sexual attractiveness.
” … show me a single self-respecting man that would like to climb into bed with that woman ever, ever, who wasn’t an incel [….] We need powerful, strong amazing women who make great points for themselves. We don’t need these sort of feminists 4.0. They’re pathetic and embarrassing. Who’d want to shag that?”
Well. Where to start?
Fox, who sees himself as some kind of political guru, fails to notice he’s holding his hand up as someone incapable of engaging in even basic political discourse, as he resorts, from the off, to personal abuse – not least the type of abuse which holds women as nothing more than sexual objects. Is he saying the views of a woman he ‘wants to shag’ have greater substance, or that physical attraction should trump philosophical debate? Or is he just an out-and-out obnoxious misogynist?
“They’ve [women] been force-fed so much rubbish, like the gender wage gap, told to go out, grab life and make a living for themselves, that it’s turned them bitter.”
Misogyny comes in various forms. In my experience as a woman who’s worked in comedy for nearly 40 years, some of them as a BBC Comedy Producer, I’ve experienced the entire gamut, from the casual passive-aggressive comment in passing, to the vicious verbal assault directed at my sex.
Let me regale you with some of my favourite examples:
“When will I get to meet the producer?” I was asked, in my own BBC office, with my name on the door.
At the helm of my first episode of Week Ending, Radio 4’s now defunct weekly satirical show, one veteran actor argued about every word in every line when we were pre-recording to an already tight deadline. When the end of the session finally arrived, everything safely in the can, he asked me if I had plans for the evening. “Getting drunk,” I replied. “You deserve it!” he said. “I was testing you, and you passed with flying colours!”
Meanwhile, at my inaugural studio recording of The News Quiz, chairman Barry Took waxed lyrical (and at length) to the audience about this being the first time the show had had a female producer, wondering aloud what difference it would make. From the cubicle, I pressed the PA button, and announced I’d been up all night baking cupcakes for everyone. The audience got it, not sure Barry ever did.
Co-presenting a radio phone-in show with a male presenter – that’s a whole other story, watch out for my memoirs – one man called in to ask what I was doing sitting in front of the mic, when I “ought to be on my back, looking up at the ceiling, like all women.”
Come to think of it, when I first joined the BBC in 1990, a lovely woman from the contracts department appeared at my door. She had ‘come to have a look at me’, as there had never before been four female producers out of a total of 19. (Yes, I did feel like a panda). Though to be fair, women hadn’t long been invented.
So entrenched is this attitude in the industry, a well-known female entertainment agent once advised me to remove the ‘i’ from Diane, to make it appear I was a man when submitting scripts. (She herself had adopted the French version of a man’s first name).
Just a couple of weeks ago, someone on X, formerly known as Twitter (excellent truncation of the name, by the way) tweeted at me:
“Women aren’t funny. All you can do is make vagina jokes. You’re a worthless diversity hire.”
I retorted (for I have torted this before, numerous times):
“I’m a political satirist, and have never made a vagina joke in my life. But you’re obviously a c***.” (Hey, my first one!)
Laurence Fox has now been suspended from GB News. Which, let’s face it, takes some doing. His response is as expected:
“It’s called free speech. I realise that the new woke world is low on laughter and high on offence, but it’s still worth trying to find the lighter moments in this joyless new cancel culture which has been created for us”.
Aside from his apparent ignorance on the limits of speech that must exist in a civilised society, and the fact that Fox, a man hitherto not known for his sense of humour, has himself taken offence at an educated woman journalist holding a different opinion from his own, I am unable to make my views known to this bastion of free speech on social media, because he, er, blocked me a couple of years ago.
There are men whose opinions women value and there’s Laurence Fox, but old Lozza’s inability to respect or even listen to others, while being unfortunate, should never have deteriorated into personal abuse, not least towards someone for being of the opposite sex, let alone a person of the opposite sex they deem ‘unshaggable’ or otherwise. (Because of course, Laurence, we’re all lusting for you).
Still, keep digging, as your public platforms dry up. There’s a long line of women behind you with spare shovels.