John Lewis, Brexit… and Goldilocks!

The ‘row’ (such as it is) about John Lewis’ decision to remove the ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ labels from clothes has been in some ways quite revealing. There’s a lot of anger, a lot of downright rage being shown – at levels that have certainly surprised me. The strange thing is that it has come from many of those people who are equally vehemently fighting to ‘ban the burkha’.

On the one hand, they hate the idea of removing the distinction between genders, on the other hand they hate the idea of excessive distinctions between genders. It’s a bit of Goldilocks thinking: the burkha porridge is too cold, the ‘ungendered’ clothing too hot. Only having the precise level of control that they approve of is just right. Girls need to be put in their place, but not too much in their place.

It has echoes of the way that many Brexiters are also vehemently against Scottish independence. The EU is too big. Scotland is too small. Only the United Kingdom is just right. And again, it seems to be a lot of the same people who make this argument. They want to control everything, because only they know what is right. Everyone else is either too big or too small, too weak or too strong, too liberal or too ‘fundamentalist’.

For me, it’s strange to be so certain – and even stranger to want to impose that certainty on everyone else. Mind you, I always thought Goldilocks was the real villain in the story. I was rooting for the bears.

6 thoughts on “John Lewis, Brexit… and Goldilocks!

  1. With you all the way, about Goldilocks too.
    As a long-serving teacher, most kids of my acquaintance would agree that Goldilocks was a thief and a vandal!

  2. Thank heavens that I am not alone in thinking Goldilocks was the villain of the piece!

    Mind you, I still get a Rupert Bear Annual for Christmas every year so naturally I am inclined towards the ursine …

  3. I agree Goldilocks was a dubious character, trespassing into the three bears’ house and venially scoffing their porridge—so certainly a villainous streak on her part there. Leaving aside the moral rectitude of a fairytale character: The examples you give above are false dilemmas (and being blind to them), rather than “Goldilocks” thinking.

    For instance comparing burkhas and the ‘row’ over children’s clothing, is comparing apples and pears. The contention surrounding burkhas is security issues and oppression of women. Whereas the contention around the JL kids’ clothing decision, is over imposing gender politics on children, and the matter of acknowledging that are still biological differences between boys and girls.

    On a similar vein, being pro-Brexit as well as opposing secession of Scotland from the UK, are not mutably incompatible views: An independent Scotland joining the EU would be obliged to join the Euro, then would have to comply to Greek-style austerity rules (such would be Scotland’s nation debt); plus Scotland would not have the opt outs the UK enjoys in the EU pre-Brexit. Given the Mr Juncker’s plans to accelerate the ‘ever-closer union’, Scotland would have decreasing say over its self-determination; thus an ‘independent’ Scotland would actually be less independent in the EU, than it would be part of a post-Brexit UK (especially as Holyrood has more competencies than the other devolved executives). By the way it is the hierarchy of the EU are true masters of the “they want to control everything, because only they know what is right” mentality.

    Those who are “strange” are those who are insist in reducing everything into fallacious binaries: They render life into total ‘black’ or ‘white’; whereby ‘black’ and white’ are ostensibly absolutely linked, because they are both colours: No recognition that their being colours is an incidental link, and there are shades of grey and other colours of nuance.

    I use the word “strange” advisedly here, because psychologists (notably CBT therapists) proscribe it and have a phrase for this polarising mindset— “all-or-nothing thinking”. The AONT schema has two manifestations:
    1) Z has to be X or Y; no other choices for Z
    (When there are actually other options beyond X and Y).
    2) If A is not in favour B, then A must support C
    (Even though A may be neutral, or support both, or be against both, or have a view different to B and C entirely).

    The reason psychotherapists proscribe this mindset, is because of its destructive and restrictive qualities. All dictators throughout history, with their my-way-or-no-way tropes, have been classic AONTers. It is those who present every political/moral debate in terms of AONT terms, who are the controlling, imposing and absolute ones; those who are a “certain” in framing everything in life as “it’s either raining or it’s Tuesday”, are cetainly “strange”!

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