Britain, Europe and Wife-swapping December 11, 2011Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite , trackback
A rather off-the-wall post reflecting on some of the imagery used in the last few days as the UK begins its long, hard crash out of the European Union. While little Miss B continues to play with her new rabbit and the family opens another door on their electronic advent calendar, history is being made. For British watchers, indeed, we are in a pivotal Sacking-of-the Monasteries, post Dunkirk, ‘Roll-up-that-map-it-will-not-be-wanted-this-ten-years’ kind of moment.
In the coverage of the EU’s latest crisis conference, the one that has marked Britain’s final isolation, Beach noticed an unusual and objectionable accent on sex. Objectionable not because he is a prude – though he pretty much is. But, rather, because it lays bare power and the exercise of power by individuals who should not be trusted with a lego train never mind the car keys of state.
One French ‘diplomat’, for example, did, yesterday, a snarling j’accuse on the British delegation at the latest EU conference. ‘Cameron [British Prime Minister] seemed to think he could come to a wife-swapping party without bringing his wife!’
This phrase is indefensible for about twelve different reasons. But it has an interesting background in the lexicon of federalist Europe. After all, sexual imagery has often been used in the debate on sovereignty in the European Union. As nation states give up their powers, there has been some discussion about whether this ‘giving up’ is like a girl who surrenders her virginity (i.e. permanent and messy) or whether sovereignty is something that can come and go. Naturally most radical federalists support the virginity interpretation: in other words, the nation state is to be – forgive the necessary crudity – ‘f****d’.
Beachcombing finds such sexual images in bad taste. Yet this particularly imagery has become routine in political discourse. He looked around a room at a recent meeting where a leading Christian Democrat brought up virginity and sovereignty in a painfully lyrical speech and saw only a sprinkling of shocked faces. Most wonks and wonkettes have become inured to it.
In the English-speaking world the only sexual imagery that is routinely used in politics is something akin to ‘he’s buggered’. The closest Beachcombing could find to anything more imaginative – at least on the record – was Sarah Palin calling journalists ‘impotent and limp and gutless’. And she probably wasn’t really conscious of the unfortunate coupling of the first two words…
Any memorable sexual metaphors from politics, past or present: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com
11, 12, 2012: Southern Man writes in recalling how the ancient European peoples and particularly the Celts viewed sovereignty as a woman to be seduced. There are precedents then! Thanks Southern Man
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