The BBC capitulates after outrage over 'sexist' Jacinda Ardern headline
We are living in the age of insanity.
On any given day for any given issue, there are outrage, disgust, paranoia, and so much more.
Social media amplify the frenzy with algorithms programmed to expose users to content that causes maximum outrage.
It begins with the first user discovering a pretext to outrage. The second user might claim that the idea was inoffensive. The third, fourth, and fifth users pounce upon the second, calling him a bigot for not being outraged. The second capitulates and joins the mob, leading to an avalanche of outrage.
This increases engagement and in turn advertising for the social media platform.
The outrage could also be a business model.
The backlash over the death of George Floyd was driven by social media, perhaps even by bots. It caused #BlackLivesMatter to trend. Celebrities and corporations donated millions to BLM to appear as though they were the 'good ones. In the end, BLM founders ended up with luxurious mansions.
The latest outrage is over a headline of a BBC article by Tessa Wong about the resignation of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern that read, "Jacinda Ardern resigns: Can women really have it all?"
Wong begins her piece by lavishing blandishments on Ardern.
For millions around the world, Jacinda Ardern's resignation comes as a shock — but especially for women. With her charm and leadership philosophy rooted in kindness, the New Zealand Prime Minister has earned widespread popularity. Many of her fans are women, who have avidly followed her journey from newbie PM to working mother and have looked up to her as a role model.
The following are more excerpts from Wong's piece:
But not many mothers have had to also grapple with steering their country through an unprecedented global pandemic, a horrific domestic terror attack, and a volcanic eruption.
Motherhood and the expectations society places on mothers — as well as the expectations mums place on themselves — are difficult enough.
A true millennial mum, she was also happy to share her parenting travails on social media, from the struggle to bake the perfect birthday cake for her daughter, to find a diaper cream stain on her jacket after spending the day in meetings. But in the end, it was too much for her to bear.
Wong concedes that Ardern's government struggled to navigate post-pandemic economic challenges that raised the cost of living and social inequality.
Wong also mentions Ardern's record-low approval rating and accepts that Ardern's resignation was probably meant to avoid an ignominious defeat in the upcoming election, despite being the incumbent P.M.
Yet Wong insists that Ardern's resignation speech, which included the conclusion "I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice. It is that simple," would resound with the many exhausted mothers around the world, such as herself, struggling with mum guilt.
Wong was saying that working women endure such hardships while balancing their personal and professional life that the challenges become insurmountable. Hence, they are left with no choice but to quit.
Wong's piece was a hagiography for Jacinda, with a sprinkling of facts about her unpopularity and misgovernance. Even the heading was meant to justify Ardern's resignation by blaming society for preventing women from "having it all."
The BBC is among the flag-bearers of faux political correctness and was never going to attack the likes of Ardern, who is also a prominent member of the same club of superficial virtue-signaling that they are.
A perfect illustration of Ardern's mindset came following a mass shooting at a mosque.
The best way to comfort the bereaved is to do it privately. But Ardern knew that demonstrating compassion in public earns more political points than being really compassionate. So Ardern donned the headscarf that Muslim women wear and comforted victims' families before the press of the world.
It earned her plaudits.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Adern wearing a hijab met the vctims of yesterday's attack. Plus she told Donald Trump: Send love to Muslims after mosque shooting. It really show how peaceful and welcoming country New Zealand is.#NewzealandMosqueAttack pic.twitter.com/ZKOG3c6gD2— Hanzla Ali (@iamhanzla1) March 16, 2019
Last year, when Ardern met with Finland's prime minister, Sanna Marin, then aged 37 and a social democrat, a reporter asked the following:
A lot of people will be wondering, are you two meeting just because you're similar in age and, you know, got a lot of common stuff there. Can Kiwis actually expect to see more deals down the line between the two countries?
This was poor articulation, but the point of the question was to find out whether their personal friendship owing to the similarities in their career paths and ages would lead to more ties between New Zealand and Finland.
Well, Ardern either misunderstood the question or purposefully used it to create an excuse to claim victimhood.
The question had no mention of either prime minister's gender, yet Ardern attempted to claim that the reporter was being sexist.
My first question is I wonder whether or not anyone ever asked Obama and [former New Zealand Prime Minister] John Key and if they met because they were of a similar age.
We of course have a higher proportion of men in politics. It's reality. But because two women meet, it's not simply because of their gender.
The ploy worked. It generated headlines and compliments.
Myriad such maneuvers caused "Jacinda-mania," a term probably coined by her P.R. team.
But on the governance front, her record was abominable. Her resignation was most likely meant to salvage her reputation and revitalize her brand.
In the future, expect Ardern to enter into lucrative book deals, speech-making engagements, etc. She may even set up a think-tank in D.C.
Back to the BBC piece.
The outrage mob was either too lazy to read the article or too daft to comprehend the contents. Perhaps they purposefully misinterpreted the heading to mount an outrage campaign merely for attention on social media and to prove their goodness.
The BBC's tweet about the article was deemed sexist, misogynistic, and anachronistic.
Saddened to see such a reductive, sexist and inaccurate headline from the BBC World. It should read “Jacinda Ardern resigns: a world leader showing courage by breaking the taboo of discussing emotional and mental wellbeing” https://t.co/yjeM8RJ4pV— Sangita Myska (@SangitaMyska) January 19, 2023
The 1950s came by and picked up their headline. pic.twitter.com/qlI6qZLBfa— Heather Barr (@heatherbarr1) January 19, 2023
Staggeringly tone deaf (and, frankly, ‘21st century deaf’) headline (now “updated”, with accompanying tweet deleted). All very well to correct the error of judgement, but what kind of culture produces such a headline in the first place? 🤔 https://t.co/t98XrsfE3H— Dr. Julie Posetti (@julieposetti) January 19, 2023
Wow. This is simply not an acceptable headline. This is sexist, belittling, insulting. What next, BBC? “You’d look prettier if you smiled”? Urgh. pic.twitter.com/1rYZGfGOhv— Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC (@caoilfhionnanna) January 19, 2023
Absurd misogyny from @BBCWorld— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@QasimRashid) January 20, 2023
Boris Johnson was ousted in a whirlwind of scandal & failure—BBC humanizes him for the pain he feels🤔
Jacinda Ardern gracefully led New Zealand through historic upheavals & leaves on her terms—BBC repeatedly dismisses her as a failure & quitter🤦🏽♂️ pic.twitter.com/XtbHcHaTeT
I don’t recall this question being asked of multiple family daddy Boris Johnson.— India Willoughby (@IndiaWilloughby) January 20, 2023
Jacinda Arden has been an absolute star. Strong. Decisive. Loved. To imply she couldn’t hack it because she’s a woman…wow. pic.twitter.com/jsq6LTUG94
Some claimed that the 1970s- and 1980s-style trope about women "having it all" is, at its basic level, a dated catch-all that portrays female success as pitting successful careers against raising families.
Instead of standing its ground and urging the virtual mob to read the article first before hysterically beating the drums of outrage, the BBC chose to capitulate before the mob.
The headline now reads, "Jacinda Ardern resigns: Departure reveals unique pressures on PM." The original tweet was deleted.
The outrage mob, despite having no reason for its fury, once again won.
The fact remains that civilized democracies simply cannot survive with continuous hoax outrages.
First, if everything is outrageous, nothing actually is. The situation is reminiscent of the boy who cried "wolf." Acts or content that actually merits outrage evades attention because of this continuous churn.
Second, this quest for purity — i.e., to be inoffensive — is an impossible pursuit. Even the purest of purists, such as the BBC, which must have multiple stages of review of its content to ensure that nothing "offensive" is published, will somehow fail the purity test. The outrage is used as an excuse to censor speech.
Third, this constant bombardment conditions society to conflate virtue-signaling, victimhood, and hoax outrage with ability. It goes beyond social media behavior and dictates voting choices. Empathy stunts fool some voters all of the time, and all of the voters some of the time. The end result is misgovernance and hardship for the people, such as the citizens of New Zealand.
It is imperative to stand up against the tyranny of a few compulsive contrarians and a largely invisible mob.
Image: Screen shot from Today video via shareable YouTube.