Peter Rhodes on gender insanity, problematic puppets - and who would Santa vote for?

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.

Beefing about boyfriends

I must be badly out of touch with employment law. I was shocked to the core to hear that the chief executive of McDonald's, Steve Easterbrook had been sacked for "violating company policy". His offence? Dating a McDonald's employee in a "consensual" relationship. How can this be? We live in an age when we celebrate love in all its many forms, regardless of race, religion, age, sexuality or gender. So how can a company possibly order you not to fall in love with someone you happen to work with?

And just supposing Steve Easterbrook had embarked on a consensual relationship with a McDonald's employee who was black, gay, transgender or all three. Would the McDonald's bosses have been quite so quick to sack him?

I am reminded of a newspaper I worked for (long ago and far away, naturally) where the management drew up a new code of conduct which included a total ban, on pain of dismissal, on employees consuming alcohol while on company business. We pointed out this was a bit hard on the bloke who wrote the wine column.

On October 22 the columnist Celia Walden wrote that we had reached "peak gender insanity" with the ruling by South Yorkshire Police that suspected and convicted rapists should be logged in the system as female if that is how they choose to identify themselves. This is madness piled upon madness. Imagine the scene as a woman police officer has to tell a woman recovering from rape that the person who did this to her is officially a woman. But peak gender insanity? Not quite.

Since Celia Walden's column appeared, Center Parcs has faced a demand from a transgender woman who still has all the male bits but says it is her legal right to use the park's female changing rooms. Elsewhere, Lynsey McCarthy-Calvert, a birth coach, has resigned from her professional organisation after being accused of "trans-exclusionary comments." Her crime was to suggest that only women can have babies.

So we may have some way to go before peak gender insanity is reached. Meanwhile, all the other little insanities are bubbling along nicely. Roger Butler, a musician and puppeteer who goes by the stage name of Chucklefoot, has been banned from a school event because two of his puppets have black faces, leading to an accusation of "casual racism." This is a no-win situation. If Chucklefoot keeps his black puppets he's a racist. If he removes them from his stage act, he's guilty of puppet ethnic cleansing.

Meanwhile, I haven't seen much comment on how this pre-Xmas General Election may be influenced by the Christmas spirit. I suppose it depends whether your Christmas spirit is a) peace and goodwill to all, or b) a massive opportunity for self-indulgence and capitalist excess. The burning question of this election is, who would Santa vote for? Over to you.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world


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