Sometimes, it's just a cigar

This is our truth, tell us yours

It’s just a handjob joke

The debate enshrined both within this article, and below the line, cries out for someone to say the obvious.

Sometimes, a cigar is just a  cigar, and sometimes a young woman making a handjob joke is just a young woman making a handjob joke. There’s something very British, and very banal, about making a joke out of a sexual experience that doesn’t turn out quite the way it was intended. Smuttiness often goes hand in hand with salaciousness to defuse difficult moments.

One serious issue did come to mind though, as I ploughed my way through an article that seemed to take itself way too seriously.

Storme Toolis, the young woman in the handjob ad, is a skilled and clever actor with mainstream TV experience. It’s not as if the Grauniad doesn’t know something about her history.  Having a journo for a mum has certainly been good for Toolis in terms of explaining the challenges involved in her chosen career.

Toolis has got form, if you’ll pardon the expression, for roles in which she challenges the beliefs of viewers; some tabloids proclaimed a scene in New Tricks as the first time the issue of a disabled person having sex was treated as unexceptional. Or to put it another way, viewers were invited to look past the wheelchair and just imagine the challenges every family faces when a young adult brings someone home for fun.

The Guardian, and its columnist didn’t ask Storme Toolis what she thought. None of the actors in the adverts referred to are allowed a voice in the Guardian article. It’s as if they have no agency. Did they take the job on because of what it meant, or because it paid the rent? Either answer would be unexceptional; it is, after all, only an advert. Neither answer, not any other, gets heard.

The Guardian didn’t seem to want to grant agency to the actors, to give them the right to talk about what it meant to them. It’s not as if there isn’t plenty of comment and material out there, including Toolis’s own reactions – so why are the people at the hearto this process,the performers, silent?

That silence is confusing and worrying. Especially as Toolis is a skilled and capable advocate for an inclusive style of drama and performance.  Did no-one at the Guardian think it might be appropriate to phone her up and ask her what she thought?

It’s an odd intersection of privileges, when membership or acquaintance with the commentariat allows one disabled person to ignore another in order to make a point. An intersectional approach has to include listening to others who may beon the same  road as yourself, but who have a different point of view.

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This entry was posted on November 1, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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