Citizens Advice and hypocrisy

Yesterday I wrote a post directed to a woman in Australia who’s been appointed by the AFL, at football patrons’ expense, to stop discrimination among footballers.

In her article, she goes on about “the alpha male” using terms like having to “engineer” change and regurgitating virtually the whole feminist lexicon.

It’s a post about hypocrisy, like man-excluding, women-only sites in these days of supposed non-discrimination and it’s about the prosecution of non-favoured groups by the State on behalf of the favoured but utter impunity on the part of the favoured groups – they can discriminate all they like and not be held accountable for it.

It’s about hypocrisy, as has just been said. It’s also about misinterpretation – about me supposedly ascribing this hypocrisy to an individual or about me actually being the alpha male referred to in the piece. If it’s read carefully, it actually mocks the alpha male in the nicest possible way. It is annoyed about a site which excludes men and yet which pretends to be all nice and civilized. And above all, it is directed to Pippa Grange and her “ridiculous article“.

To underline this hypocrisy, which rankles with me something awful – I don’t mind the discrimination as much as the hypocrisy – I had to go, last year, down to my local Citizens Advice Bureau, on a matter concerning my utilities bill. Par for the course. When I walked in, there was a barrage of non-discriminatory warnings on a large poster, right in our faces. That didn’t go down well for a start.

The CAB has been around since the 40s and was womanned by volunteers from its inception. It does a fine job, most usually for people at the end of their tether who can’t deal with the monolithic State and what it’s doing to them. There are many relationship issues handled, employment issues etc. By the way, if you have any troubles that way, I’d recommend Advice Guide – it can give you instant feedback on the state of things in the UK at any time.

If you visit that site, you’re hit by a young black man, a white woman and a mixed baby as the graphic. Pardon me but isn’t the majority in this country white and lower or middle class? So there’s immediate hypocrisy there, before we even get started. Why does the graphic not reflect the demographics of the country?

Anyway, I got to speak with the head-honcho [a woman but as the CAB has always been women, there’s no issue in that]. I asked her what if an employer came in and needed advice on employees who were not doing the right thing, said employees giving him GBH of the earhole?

Sorry, she said, he can go and get legal redress. The CAB has always been for the employee.

Why? Surely it is an advice organization which does not discriminate – in fact, on the wall is just such a statement. It’s free, they don’t “tell”, it’s confidential and they are strongly anti-discrimination. So, on that basis, they have to hear the employer too, he being just as much a citizen?

The answer was that their resources were stretched. To an extent, that’s right and they have to start somewhere, means-tested probably.

I then asked what about the discrimination against men in the workplace today – surely she must have seen many men coming in, unemployed, at the end of their tether and facing this discrimination?

Her face went sour and she moved to close the conversation. However, as I had on my nicest possible, expectant look, she had to answer.

“This does not come under social policy,” she replied.

“Pardon?” I asked and she knew exactly where this was going. “Are you telling me that if men feel they have just grounds for unfair discrimination against them on the basis of age and gender, that you won’t listen to them?”

“On age, yes, it’s covered by social policy.”

“But not on gender. Well, that’s fair enough. So if any woman comes in and says she feels she was not given a job on the basis of her gender, you’d politely dismiss her and wait for her to go away?”

She couldn’t directly answer, naturally, so she went oblique and said they could only advise on what was currently government policy.

That was fair enough so I asked if the CAB ever made representations to government on any issue they felt needed rectification? In other words, if there was a glaring issue of injustice, the CAB would provide feedback to government and even lobby them on behalf of the discriminated-against?

Again, she didn’t want to be drawn and wanted this thing to end – quickly. As I’d been super-polite though and the conversation had only been two or three minutes at this point, she had a hard time ending it abruptly and I knew it and she knew I knew it.

It was when I asked, “Don’t you think this is all a bit hypocritical?” that she felt she had grounds to say goodbye to me, as I’d had my own issue addressed and there seemed to be nothing more they needed to do, as the CAB. Plus they’re not allowed to offer personal opinion – only point to the law at the time.

That was fair enough. I did notice though that she had personally taken umbrage at a series of questions in which I was obviously gunning for the government and CAB policy but not specifically gunning for her or calling her personally hypocritical. Ditto with my post yesterday – it was directed at this Pippa Grange, as someone who’d been caught up in something insidious and it’s that something insidious I’m gunning for.

We have to stop all this discriminatory rubbish against large sections of our own population and start supporting our population as a whole, being inclusive for sure and not differentiating between groups, not favouring one group but oppressing the other.

In exactly the same way in the family, if there’s to be any support, it should be for the couple as a unit, plus their children, not specifically for her to rip off the man via the CSA or for the man to rip her off via … well, I can’t think of an example off the top of the head.

Surely that should be obvious?

Apparently not.

9 comments for “Citizens Advice and hypocrisy

  1. Chick
    May 7, 2012 at 9:50 am

    CAB is a government data collection agency
    helping people is only a by product

  2. May 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Bloody Sheilas… Oh shit, out loud again? I’m going native. šŸ˜³

    Seriously though, some thought needs to go into this. As far as the CAB goes either all are equal or all are not, and if it’s the latter then fine as long as they drop the pretence. Okay, so they’d need to change the headed stationery to WAB or something (the acronym for Minorities Only Advice Bureau might cause confusion with the type of ordnance some might like dropped on them and is probably best avoided). And these self-righteous hand wringers flapping about attractive girls posing for tee shirt designs should consider that most of us would probably never have heard about it if they hadn’t made such a fuss about Buddy Franklin’s link to the company who makes them (whatever it is – I haven’t troubled myself to find out). Streisand’s Effect strikes again.

    Perhaps they’d do better to point to a positive example, say that of goal umpire Chelsea Roffey who’s been umpiring AFL matches regularly for a few years, and who rarely makes a mistake and as far as I can tell accepts it when she does get it wrong. Asking why there aren’t more Chelsea Roffeys might be pertinent. Making a scene over some raunchy tee shirt designs isn’t and just exposes them to questions about why they’re happy for almost every other product to be advertised on TV in such a way as to make a man look like an abject moron who couldn’t hold his own dick the right way round without his wife’s help. Well, it ought to, but not enough people seem to be asking.

  3. May 7, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Can’t disagree with either of those.

  4. stab11
    May 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    My sister works for the CAB as an advisor. Well actually she has been on a temp contract for 3 years as have most of the office apart from the manager. They are covering for the 50% upwards of the “proper” staff who are permanently either on sick leave for depression or on maternity leave. Sometimes the formerly pregnant return for a couple of weeks before vanishing with depression. Its my sisters first time the public sector and its all come as a bit of a shock to her.

    • Tattyfalarr
      May 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      Sounds familair.

      I’ve a fair few relatives who entered various jobs in the Public Sector bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and imagining they could change The System.

      The System, of course, changed them.

      Will we ever learn ? Can we ever really DO anything about it beyond questioning it ?

      • May 8, 2012 at 8:43 am

        For ref: I’ve only glanced through the accounts so I haven’t got an informed opinion on whether the CAB should be regarded as a fake or real charity. It’s difficult to tell. Here, for example, there is no question that James asked for help with his utility bill and received it, so clearly it does provide a service for citizens on demand. Presumably Sta11’s sister regards herself as doing proper work providing information and advice to citizens.

        The umbrella charity no. is 279057 and the local associations are constructed as individual charities and function that way. For example, although they all post their job vacancies to the national website, they operate independently as employers and volunteer recruiters.

        For a look at the current paid positions and a reasonable idea of the wages (seem to run from Ā£10k pro rata jobs up to Ā£60k central London central management jobs) see:

        http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/index/jobopportunities.htm

        Depending on funding, this could be described as disguised public sector (its constitution is to provide a public good) but the terms and conditions of employment are with an employer who happens to be a charity. This is common; many charities have employees. You local hospice, for example.

        Whether you regard this one as a fake or real charity will depend on how you classify their funding and your view of their work and whether it occupies enough of their money to qualify as a real charity rather than an organization with an agenda which does a little bit of charitable work on the side.

        The Charities Commission carries a series of audited accounts and the Association of CABs will usually provide statements or clarification if approached directly.

        • Tattyfalarr
          May 8, 2012 at 9:18 am

          Whether you regard this one as a fake or real charity will depend on how you classify their funding

          Regardless of where funding is sourced I think personal opinion depends on how much they pay their staff and what and how any excess…if any…is spent.

          There’s a fine line between selfless and selfish that money tends to obliterate, unfortunately.

  5. Ken from Kuwinjeburra
    May 8, 2012 at 4:58 am

    I see that Pippa writes for The Age “newspaper”.Says it all although I must admit to buying the Sunday version,but only for the T.V.pages,honest !
    Having said that,James,perhaps you should get on to the Age and ask why they have a complete magazine in the Sunday edition which deals only with women and their issues,no equivelant blokes issue though..Now that is hypocritical for a “newspaper” which prides itself on equalities.

  6. May 8, 2012 at 6:04 am

    Stab, Tatty and Ken – interesting, those. Didn’t know that about The Age. I’m waiting for some lady, any lady, to come in here now and explain to me and to all readers how and why I’ve got it completely wrong, that there is no hypocrisy, that there is no discrimination.

    Once that argument is put up here, I’ll then apologize to women in general for having it wrong, that they haven’t been guilty of blatant discrimination in the least, backed up by government. I want to be wrong. Ladies, please come in and show me I have been.

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