He said, she said

Peter
Peter Jackson
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Mount Pearl Mayor Randy Simms and St. John's Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary had a little joust about women and politics on VOCM's Open Line last week. It didn't go well. Sheilagh didn't know exactly what Randy had said, and Randy didn't know that Sheilagh didn't know. For the record, here is a full transcript. Warning to the parody-impaired: I may have embellished this just a bit.

Randy Simms: So, Mayor, you have five women and two men on your council? Well, you're going to be in trouble, I think.

Mount Pearl Mayor Randy Simms and St. John's Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary had a little joust about women and politics on VOCM's Open Line last week. It didn't go well. Sheilagh didn't know exactly what Randy had said, and Randy didn't know that Sheilagh didn't know. For the record, here is a full transcript. Warning to the parody-impaired: I may have embellished this just a bit.

Randy Simms: So, Mayor, you have five women and two men on your council? Well, you're going to be in trouble, I think.

Mayor: (laughs)

RS: Women, after all, don't possess the economic faculties to handle even the most basic balance sheet. And their emotional urges prohibit them from making rational decisions.

Mayor: (laughs)

RS: Anyway, we're being very unfair to our lady councillors, aren't we? After all, they are of delicate nature and must be treated with the utmost sensitivity.

Mayor: You got that right, Randy.

RS: Thanks for calling, Mayor. Goodbye. Now, apparently we have St. John's Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary on the line. Congratulations, Sheilagh, on your election to council. It must be a fascinating experience for a woman to venture into the hallowed halls of politics. I hope they've accommodated you well, providing all the womanly amenities you require. Is there a powder room there?

Sheilagh O'Leary: Randy, on behalf of all women everywhere, I have to lodge a protest against your sexist utterings on air today.

RS: Now, Sheilagh, that's not very ladylike of you.

SO: See, there you go again.

RS: But Sheilagh, I grew up in an agrarian society where sexual indentity was primarily predicated on a distinct division of labour. Political affairs were only part of that division, and were only considered to be a societal extension of the family unit.

SO: But the family dynamic has changed, Randy. The liberation of women from child-rearing duties has radically shifted the structure of societal norms. Politics is power, and since women are no longer the dominant force in the homestead, women must have an equal say in exercising that power.

RS: But you're completely ignoring the balance of life that existed in outports and rural communities, where men had to perform the physical labour of farming and fishing, and were thus the natural breadwinners. The one who provides the means for existence must also be the primary decision-maker.

SO: But you forget that men and women are of equal importance in even the most basic living circumstances. The human species cannot survive without both men and women.

RS: And that's why I call the missus my "better half."

SO: But she is not your half. She is a whole unto herself. She did not spring from you as Eve allegorically sprang from Adam's rib. Her attachment to you is as voluntary and spontaneous as yours to her.

RS: So, why am I being sexist?

SO: Because you made a joke. Because you turned centuries of patriarchal oppression of women into a light-hearted barb.

RS: But when I'm with friends - men and women - we make all sorts of jokes about "a woman's place" and "the old ball and chain" and such. And we say it in front of our wives, and they roll their eyes. Because they know it's all a sendup of a time long since past. And besides, Aristotle said friendship is the most noble of relationships.

SO: Don't bring him into this, that sexist bastard.

RS: So, when a fisherman is stuck at home for a few days, and his wife says, "You're driving me to drink," because he's lying on the daybed by the stove all day, and then he gets up and chops a bit of wood and then heads to his buddy's shed where they have a swally or two, and then the wife locks him out because he's too drunk, so he sleeps in the barn and gets pneumonia - is that sexist?

SO: That is a failed society. That is a society that was once patriarchal and the man doesn't realize that the balance of power has shifted and is therefore alienated from both his home life and society at large. The women in that society have been long-suffering and are now reclaiming their rightful position, and the men must learn the error of their old ways.

RS: But he's the one who got pneumonia.

SO: Men should not think of women in politics as women. They should think of them as politicians.

RS: But what if they're dressed nice?

SO: That is not the point. No matter how they dress, they are not women when they are in the council chambers or in the legislature. They are councillors and legislators. They are not women.

RS: It's hard not to notice.

SO: Well, then, perhaps men and women should dress the same. They should all wear their hair short and dress in pink jumpsuits so that there are no differences in appearances.

RS: Why pink? Why not blue?

SO: Why not pink?

RS: Well, pink is sort of gay, isn't it?

SO: Randy, I'm not going to argue with you anymore. Goodbye.

RS: And goodbye to you, you snivelling, left-wing, fringe, militant, women's-rights fanatical, naked-bodies-on-rocks excuse for a photographer! Whew, I've had just about enough of her. Now, who's on the line now? We have a representative of Newfoundland and Labrador Gays and Lesbians for Equality. Go ahead, you're on the air.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram's commentary editor. He can be contacted by e-mail at pjackson@nl.rogers.com.

Geographic location: St. John's, Mount Pearl

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Recent comments

  • Bert
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Peter, is this the actual transcripts of the telephone conversation or is this something you put your slant of how the conversation went? If this is your words you did a great job of making Randy look like an eel. Somehow I feel you more than embellished this a little.

  • Jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    Peter, In the future could you please modify your, ( Warning to the parody-impaired;) label, to also include, ( May also cause fits of laughter;) Thank You Very Much !
    ;-)

  • Taxpayer Joe
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    Sheila is just a little drunk on perceived power. She jumped the gun and is looking silly for doing so. We remember recently when Joan Burke went crazy on Loyola Hearn for telling a joke that she herself was not present to hear.
    Sheila, I don't believe for a minute that anyone took Randy seriously when he made the statement. I feel that when you and others jume on the little things such as this you only serve to minimize your cause and people begin to think of you as a Fringe group.
    Relax for a moment and just listen to the exchange. We all know you were elected so lets wait for the next REAL issue for St. John's and maybe you can jume all over that with the same vigor and determinaton.

  • Marie
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    It's not the inane comments that Randy made, it's the fact that he made them at all. This speaks to the fact that he does still see women in that light and will never see them as equal. He's an old fashioned goat--pity we can't just ignore him.

  • Edmund
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Finally, someone has brought to the surfsce what an a_ _ hole Randy Simms really is, period. Way to go Shelia, keep him accountable.

  • Ron
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    In my opinion, next to reilgion, Political correctness has to be the most devisive form of expression there is. It creates problems where none exist. It seems you have to police everything you say for fear of offending somebody. Randy Simms was speaking in jest, 99% of the population knows this and laughed. The other 1% should grow up.

  • Calvin
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    Has anyone heard a Nickelback song on the radio lately, I dont know the name of it (i DONT REALLY LIKE nICKELBACK), that goes a little something like this. You tease them by sucking on your thumb, so much cooler when you never pull it out, so much cuter with something in your mouth..... The song starts out talking about how his missus has a million dollar body..... AND WE ARE MAKING A BIG DEAL OVER A MILDLY SEXIST JOKE MADE ON NEWFOUNDLAND RADIO?!?!?!?!?! Anything to start a little arguement. As far as I can tell, this whole incident has been a bunch of narrow minded people spewing narrow minded ideas about the plight of women in politics. If Mr. Simms had said Its a good thing you have some women on council because men are stunned no one would have said anything. I hear these types of jokes all the time, and no one ever has anything to say about them. So why the double standard? Is someone afraid that it's going to set gender equality back 100 years? I think it shows a lot of peoples insecurities concerning how we as a society handle sexist issues. Time to move on people, the only people this affected are the ones who were looking to be affected by it.

  • Peggy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    I believe Randy Simms to be a really decent guy who's done a lot of good in our community. I don't think he intended to offend women with his comments.

    But these kind of jokes, especially from high profile, longstanding male politicians are offensive. 'Hey lighten up, it was just a joke' is no longer an effective or reasonable response to offending someone/some group of people with comments or jokes that are demeaning in nature (whether sexist, racist, whatever).

    We are trying hard to encourage more women into political life. But I can say, these kind of old boy attitudes and jokes are the kind of thing contributing to maintaining municipal politics as the old boys network it is.

    Kudos to women who have become involved in political life in spite of this kind of foolishness. And Randy - I'm no 'fringe', just a normal young woman trying to make a go in the world - but those comments were offensive. As a high-profile community leader who I believe to have good intentions - can't you understand why and acknowledge this?

  • BS
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Women and men are not....I repeat not equal. Women and men are different in many ways.

    to list a few;

    *women can bear children, men cannot.

    *women differ physically from men

    *women (in general) are more emotional than men

    etc etc etc

    Let us all be honest and admit that the genders are different, not equal and never shall be.

  • Kim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    I agree with Sheilagh. Randy, you did make sexist comments. I personally feel your comments were ignorant. That's the kind of BS you heard when growing up and we don't need it now. Women and men are equal Randy, it's time you got those knuckles off the ground. How does that feel?

    I wonder if he has daughters?

  • Bert
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Peter, is this the actual transcripts of the telephone conversation or is this something you put your slant of how the conversation went? If this is your words you did a great job of making Randy look like an eel. Somehow I feel you more than embellished this a little.

  • Jim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    Peter, In the future could you please modify your, ( Warning to the parody-impaired;) label, to also include, ( May also cause fits of laughter;) Thank You Very Much !
    ;-)

  • Taxpayer Joe
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Sheila is just a little drunk on perceived power. She jumped the gun and is looking silly for doing so. We remember recently when Joan Burke went crazy on Loyola Hearn for telling a joke that she herself was not present to hear.
    Sheila, I don't believe for a minute that anyone took Randy seriously when he made the statement. I feel that when you and others jume on the little things such as this you only serve to minimize your cause and people begin to think of you as a Fringe group.
    Relax for a moment and just listen to the exchange. We all know you were elected so lets wait for the next REAL issue for St. John's and maybe you can jume all over that with the same vigor and determinaton.

  • Marie
    July 01, 2010 - 20:14

    It's not the inane comments that Randy made, it's the fact that he made them at all. This speaks to the fact that he does still see women in that light and will never see them as equal. He's an old fashioned goat--pity we can't just ignore him.

  • Edmund
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Finally, someone has brought to the surfsce what an a_ _ hole Randy Simms really is, period. Way to go Shelia, keep him accountable.

  • Ron
    July 01, 2010 - 20:10

    In my opinion, next to reilgion, Political correctness has to be the most devisive form of expression there is. It creates problems where none exist. It seems you have to police everything you say for fear of offending somebody. Randy Simms was speaking in jest, 99% of the population knows this and laughed. The other 1% should grow up.

  • Calvin
    July 01, 2010 - 19:59

    Has anyone heard a Nickelback song on the radio lately, I dont know the name of it (i DONT REALLY LIKE nICKELBACK), that goes a little something like this. You tease them by sucking on your thumb, so much cooler when you never pull it out, so much cuter with something in your mouth..... The song starts out talking about how his missus has a million dollar body..... AND WE ARE MAKING A BIG DEAL OVER A MILDLY SEXIST JOKE MADE ON NEWFOUNDLAND RADIO?!?!?!?!?! Anything to start a little arguement. As far as I can tell, this whole incident has been a bunch of narrow minded people spewing narrow minded ideas about the plight of women in politics. If Mr. Simms had said Its a good thing you have some women on council because men are stunned no one would have said anything. I hear these types of jokes all the time, and no one ever has anything to say about them. So why the double standard? Is someone afraid that it's going to set gender equality back 100 years? I think it shows a lot of peoples insecurities concerning how we as a society handle sexist issues. Time to move on people, the only people this affected are the ones who were looking to be affected by it.

  • Peggy
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    I believe Randy Simms to be a really decent guy who's done a lot of good in our community. I don't think he intended to offend women with his comments.

    But these kind of jokes, especially from high profile, longstanding male politicians are offensive. 'Hey lighten up, it was just a joke' is no longer an effective or reasonable response to offending someone/some group of people with comments or jokes that are demeaning in nature (whether sexist, racist, whatever).

    We are trying hard to encourage more women into political life. But I can say, these kind of old boy attitudes and jokes are the kind of thing contributing to maintaining municipal politics as the old boys network it is.

    Kudos to women who have become involved in political life in spite of this kind of foolishness. And Randy - I'm no 'fringe', just a normal young woman trying to make a go in the world - but those comments were offensive. As a high-profile community leader who I believe to have good intentions - can't you understand why and acknowledge this?

  • BS
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Women and men are not....I repeat not equal. Women and men are different in many ways.

    to list a few;

    *women can bear children, men cannot.

    *women differ physically from men

    *women (in general) are more emotional than men

    etc etc etc

    Let us all be honest and admit that the genders are different, not equal and never shall be.

  • Kim
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    I agree with Sheilagh. Randy, you did make sexist comments. I personally feel your comments were ignorant. That's the kind of BS you heard when growing up and we don't need it now. Women and men are equal Randy, it's time you got those knuckles off the ground. How does that feel?

    I wonder if he has daughters?