OPINION

The babble that eats up political rhetoric

When New Democracy MP Fotini Pipili accused a Golden Dawn lawmaker of making a threatening gesture (suggestively running his finger across his throat), she didn’t mention anything about sexual harassment. Of course she could have if she had wanted to score sympathy points. When she said that she had received numerous threats while vacationing at her summer home, she wasn’t speaking in the name of all persecuted and oppressed women. She spoke as a lawmaker revealing the illegal actions of people who, though serving in Parliament, were behaving like thugs. She was speaking in political terms and it was on these terms that she was judged.

This is why the issue today is not about whether chauvinism is prevalent in Greek society and politics – the subject of much debate following this weekend’s events at ERT headquarters and the criticism aimed at MPs Zoe Constantopoulou of SYRIZA and Rachil Makri of Independent Greeks – or the percentage of women in Parliament, but rather about the political rhetoric produced by lawmakers, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, race, height, weight, age, social background, wealth, educational level or thickness of hair. The problem is that when you see Makri dressed in sneakers and sitting atop a gate shouting “The junta didn’t fall in 73,” there is clearly nothing of politics in this image. What such an image generates is the kind of public babble that the fathers of the nation were so adept at. If, moreover, you should want to describe the political babble that swallows up proper political rhetoric, much like the retro video game where Pac Man eats everything that lies in his path, a description of Makri on the railings would be one way to do it. Including the sneakers, of course.

When you walk onto the public stage, you are judged in every respect, even for your high-heeled shoes or for the tie that you’re not wearing because – if you’re SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras – you don’t want to be restrained by conformity.

The other day, PASOK MP Theodora Tzakri put on her own one-act play. Though a member of one of the parties in the coalition government, she stood up and voted in favor of the no-confidence motion without even considering that she was, at best, acting in a contradictory manner. At worst, she showed complete ignorance of the laws of reason and the rules of politics. You may execute a pirouette on the stage because you believe it will get you noticed, but what you’re wearing on your feet matters when you’re doing a pirouette. And Christian Louboutin heels – for which Tzakri is also somewhat famous – also have their own significance, especially when you are purportedly defending the beleaguered Greek people.

I remember an article by the late professor, physician and author Giorgos Heimonas asking for the protection of men. It was the age of aggressive feminism, when women eschewed bras and embraced their facial hair. That age is gone, never to return. Today, postmodern post-feminists speak in the name of the female gender and they want it to be feminine. And because I never believed my mother was a virgin, even though she makes a great pastitsio, nor that all other women are whores, when I hear that this mentality is still prevalent today, I wonder what kind of farcial comedy politicians think they’re playing in. You may argue that the Greek Communist Party still believes in the Soviet Union and that history is just taking a detour because of roadworks in central Berlin.

Is there barbarism and violence in Greek society? Of course there is, just as there is relentless bad taste. It’s just that when you limit it to sexism, you lose sight of the landscape.