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Ruminations on sexist statement in Parliament

September 14th, 2013

Commenting on a crude statement made by a Fidesz State Secretary, left-wing pundits accuse the right-wing politician of fomenting male chauvinism and sexism. A pro-government columnist also criticizes the vulgar tone used by MP Illés, but finds the left-wing outcry over the impolite words somewhat hypocritical and overblown, nonetheless.

In an angry reply to Bernadett Szél (LMP) in Parliament on Monday, State Secretary for Environmental Protection Zoltán Illés told the female MP that “just because you are pretty, you are not necessarily smart.” He said this in response to a demand by Szél that the Hungarian government should be more active in protesting against the Romanian government”s plan to authorize a Canadian company to open an environmentally harmful open-cast gold mine in the Transylvanian settlement of Rosia Montana (Verespatak). MP Illés added that PM Orbán has been active in opposing the mining project and called Szél”s accusations “bullshit”. (On Thursday, the Romanian government distanced itself from the gold mine project, although the prime minister has made contradictory statements on the subject and a final vote in Parliament still lies ahead.) Mr Illés later apolgized for his inappropriate words.

Sexist slurs are not uncommon on the right, Judit N. Kósa writes in Népszabadság. The left-wing commentator notes that such male chauvinist statements have occasionally been made in the House, but Mr Illés” crude tone was unprecedented. Kósa finds it highly disappointing that in his determination to defend PM Orbán Mr Illés completely forgot that he should not insult thousands of voters by using such nasty words.

In Népszava, Richárd Molnár contends that . The left-wing columnist speculates that Illés also wanted to publicly demonstrate “his heterosexual orientation” and to “refute the feminist myths about the correlation of beauty and intelligence”. Concluding his reflections on the unacceptability of sexism on a less than politically correct note, Molnár remarks that pretty women are “usually labeled as stupid by those men who cannot get them laid.”

Sexism and surliness are both unacceptable, deputy editor Gábor D. Horváth comments in Magyar Nemzet. Instead of such unpleasant and crude insults, Illés should have politely rejected Szél”s false accusations, the pro-government commentator maintains. Horváth, however, finds the resulting outcry on the left-wing outcries somewhat controversial and exaggerated. He recalls that left-wing and liberal politicians remained silent when MSZP MP István Józsa in September 2012 allegedly pulled the hair of a government adviser during a heated Parliamentary committee meeting.

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