Lady Golfer Columnist: Madeleine Winnett

Courses & Travel

Never mind being an ist, the worst crime possible is to be politically correct

Ho, ho, ho! Well, that’s my approach to the time of jingle bells, Rudolph and unflattering paper hats, but I feel some people won’t be getting into the festive spirit in quite the same way this year.     

Take Ted Bishop for instance. I know I am often a lone voice, but am I really the only person who feels a tiny bit sorry for the man? He made one teensy weensy gaffe, and now not only has he lost his job as president of the PGA of America, but he is to be expunged from the record books as well. Seriously? The man didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t go around mugging old people or drowning cats. He got one word wrong in a sentence. 

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, as Ian Poulter saw fit to cast aspersions on Sir Nick Faldo and Tom Watson’s Ryder Cup captaincy merits, Ted Bishop responded by putting on social media that Poulter sounded ‘like a little schoolgirl squealing during recess.’ 

I think that history will show that Poulter has hardly been immune from making a few inopportune remarks himself over the years! 

In essence, I think what Bishop said was right – they were juvenile comments but his fatal mistake was to use the word ‘girl’ instead of ‘child.’ And that oversight has been very costly indeed. Soon, we won’t be able to read anything in the papers that anyone has said because no- one will dare to make a comment. 
Golf is crying out for characters. Of course, he could have stuck to the tried-and-tested formula of ’staying in the moment and playing one shot at a time’ which I’m bored to death of hearing, but which we will inevitably hear more of because it is safe. Anything outside of that may be misinterpreted by someone who wants to be offended. 

Golf is crying out for characters but as soon as someone says something from the ever-increasing censorship sheet, heaven help them! Yes, in hindsight it was a silly thing to say, but did I immediately perceive it to be the ’insensitive gender- based statement’ the baying hordes have turned it into? No! 

I took it to be that he was implying that Poulter was behaving like a school kid. Does he wish he had phrased it differently now? I am sure he does. 

So, why is the term ‘girl’ so offensive? Is it because it was used by a man? Would it have been OK if it had been used by a woman? Only this week I called someone a big girl’s blouse. Am I being sizeist, sexist and fashionist all in one statement there? Technically, I don’t even know what it really means. I called myself the exact same phrase a day later, but can I get away with it because I am a girl? I have no idea. 

My niece is forever telling me to ’Man up’. Now I am wondering if I can sue her. I can foresee a couple of problems with that if I do go ahead – namely the atmosphere around the table may be a little frosty as we are all tucking into the turkey and, as the giving of presents doesn’t take place until after lunch, I may be a little light on things to open! As she is a student, she also doesn’t have any money, so on reflection I think I’ll let it pass.


My point is, we all say things that we don’t really mean and that were never intended by the way others perceive them. For instance, when I read that Rio Ferdinand had received a three-match ban for using a term that I had never heard of, but which was supposedly sexist, I thought that was karma after all his indignation about racist comments. I immediately thought it was a case of the pot calling the kettle…and then I stopped. 


I couldn’t finish the sentence. 


I meant the analogy in its purest form to mean that a person is guilty of the same thing of which they accuse someone else, but I immediately realised that because of the person I was referring to, anybody out there with a penchant for looking to trip people up could twist it to imply I was being racist. And that is truly alarming.


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Who would you prefer to see coming down your chimney?


To me, far worse than being sexist, racist, heightist, gingerist, or any kind of ist is being politically correct, because that is the most offensive and damaging camp in society today. I defy anybody not to be an ’ist’ of some sort. If I had monitored every one of your conversations in the last year and broadcast what you had passed off as an innocuous phrase or joke, somebody somewhere with a sensitive disposition would have taken offence and labelled you an ’ist’ of some description.  


So, with fear and trepidation at the prospect of offending some people, I am now going to boldly use the ’c’ word, and wish everyone a very Happy Christmas – and may I wish Ted Bishop one too. 


Rest assured that in a world where the media are increasingly jumping on the PC bandwagon, not all of us think that your punishment fitted your crime. 


Who would you prefer to see coming down your chimney – an overweight, myopic, bearded bloke, bellowing phrases like, “Ho, ho, ho, have I got a surprise for you little girl?”, or a sanitised stick insect with a sack of non-gender-specific toys in one hand and a human rights handbook in the other, lest he scrapes his elbows on his way down to eschew the glass of sherry and mince pie in favour of mineral water and a cereal bar? Old beardie gets my vote!



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