Monday 24 October 2016

As if the bus strikes weren't enough - now union wants to spoil Christmas

Published 20/09/2016 | 02:30

Ryan Tubridy on RTE's The Late Late Toy Show Picture: Andres Poveda
Ryan Tubridy on RTE's The Late Late Toy Show Picture: Andres Poveda

It has been a busy time for unions in this country of late. The strikes were seen by many observers as just the first blow of a newly militant union approach towards industrial relations.

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They were, in many ways, an expeditionary force sent out to see just how far they could push management and the Government - their customers, as is usually the case, were an afterthought to be mentioned only in terms of platitudes and vague expressions of regret.

We can now see the fruits of that particular tree with the bus strikes, which are simply repeating the same sabre rattling and the same blithe indifference to the trouble they are causing people who need the bus to go to work, school or shopping.

So it's nice to see that while some of our unions seem determined to cause as much disruption as possible in order to get a larger slice of the pie, at least Impact has its eye on more important matters - such as the 'Late Late Toy Show'.

If the 'Late Late' was ever cancelled, the show would still have to bring back its Christmas special. It's a national institution at this stage and remains the most highly watched programme of the year, consistently pulling in more than a million viewers at a time when figures are falling off the cliff for terrestrial broadcasters.

But apparently, anyone who enjoys the programme is unaware of the fact that they are colluding in rampant sexism and the indoctrination of young girls.

Yes, while some unions seem determined to shut the capital city down for days at a time, the brains trust at Impact have published a report called 'Workplace Sexism? It's Child's Play' and say that they are deeply concerned that: "Toys convey a society's ideology. The ideology... is, for the most part, a profoundly conservative narrative about traditional gender roles based on normative ideas about how heterosexual western men and women ought to interact."

Honestly, it's like wading through a cliche salad.

The essential thrust of their argument comes from the already discredited 'Let Toys be Toys' campaign, which argues that children are forced into particular gender roles by the dark forces of Big Toy.

In other words, boys are encouraged to be boys and girls are encouraged to be girls and, the report's authors conclude, this is all part of some grand, secret plan to produce another generation of gender-compliant workers who only know their place because they were never exposed to an alternative.

They argue, for example, that: "The boys' toys shown often tend to foster technical knowledge and competence that prepares them for a career in the industrial economy.

The presence of toys depicting careers in the military bespeaks toy manufacturers' views of masculinity as aggressive or domineering."

No it doesn't.

The presence of toy soldiers simply bespeaks the manufacturers' understanding that lots of young boys like things that go bang.

There are several problems with the report, not least that some people will take it seriously.

On a purely factual level, the kids who appear on the 'Toy Show' are given a variety of toys to play with in advance and they get to pick their favourites to play with on the programme.

Are we to believe that young children of both genders are colluding with Big Toy when a boy picks a space ship and a girl picks a pretty doll?

The argument that kids are being conditioned by the toys they play with, and are somehow going to find a career as a result of their playtime habits fails the common sense test - if it were the case, most grown men would now be either professional footballers or astronauts.

We have reached the genuinely absurd situation where even the most basic biology is seen by some people as sexist.

But biology doesn't care about the passing whims and fads of social justice activists.

For instance, an experiment conducted a few years ago into the behaviour of juvenile rhesus monkeys introduced male and female primates to a variety of toys. The young males were attracted to the dumper trucks and the females were more interested in the softer, 'plush' toys.

That proves nothing more than that there are some general rules of thumb about gender which, while not immutable, tend to be replicated across the species.

Nobody in their right mind thinks that boys should only ever play with one particular type of toy or that girls should only ever be interested in Barbie.

As a child, one of my favourite toys was a kitchen set which even had a little oven with a light you could turn on when you pretended to cook.

I had no idea if that was meant to be a girl's toy and I didn't care then - just as I don't care now.

Kids are blissfully immune to the nonsense of gender politics and if we can learn one thing from this Toy Show trouble, it's that children are smarter than some union leaders.

But we could have guessed that for ourselves.

Irish Independent

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