What’s wrong with ‘Measuring Sexual Identity: An Evaluation Report’ (2010) from the Office for National Statistics?
Well for starters, the authors admit that its methodology is fundamentally flawed by using a single measure and if they had they used a more appropriate measure then the figures for gay, lesbian and bisexual would most likely have been higher! The report misleads over refusal rates and does not adequate addresses the age, emplyment status, education, and ethnicity biases in its figures. In spite of evidence to the contrary the authors slap themselves on the back for a success’ whereas they should be slapping each other in the face for this unmitigated disaster.
Having taught statistics in several UK universities at all levels and with a PhD in gender stereotypes and attitudes to sexuality (from an accredited university), I recognise, in this report, many of pitfalls I’ve taught undergraduate psychology students to avoid. If it was an undergraduate report, I’d struggle to give it a ‘pass’. So let’s look at some of the main problems:
Attraction, Behaviour, Orientation, Identity
The report distinguishes between sexual attraction, sexual identity, sexual orientation and sexual behaviour. So the expectation is that the report will take a multidimensional approach. However, it does not. It states that whereas legislation focuses on sexual orientation, the report choses to look at sexual identity. It also clearly states that behaviour may not form a basis for identity but goes on to argue:
‘Research during the development of the question also deemed sexual identity the most relevant dimension of sexual orientation to investigate given its relation to experiences of disadvantage and discrimination’ (p4).
Unfortunately, the research on which this conclusion is based is by the Office for National Statistics. It’s a classic example of groupthink. Much cutting edge research would dispute this assumption. I certainly dispute it. It became clear very early on in my research that a single question to measure sexual identity or sexual orientation, at best would be misleading. So I didn’t. It could be considered irresponsible to publish research based on an imappropriate tool. In fact, the curremt report probably would not be published in any peer reviewed journal.
This report warns:
“[N}o single question would capture the full complexity of sexual orientation. A suite of questions would be necessary to collect data on the different dimensions of sexual orientation, and to examine consistency between them at the individual level (p4).”
The report goes ahead and uses a single question anyway! Whether or not a person labels their sexual orientation should not be the issue where ‘experiences of disadvantage and discrimination’ are concerned. Clearly, the reluctance to feel able to or be comfortable in declaring one’s sexuality is also a form of disadvantage and an aspect of discrimination. The current approach distorts the issue through over simplification.
So what’s the difference between attraction, behaviour, orientation and identity. Well, identity is how we describe ourselves or how others label us. Well people who are attracted to the same gender might not act upon it. People who act upon sexual attraction may do so in very specific circumstances. Orientation may be indicated by attraction, behaviour or a label with which a person identifies. I would argue that behaviour and attraction are more important than the label a person uses. For instance, in sexual health there is a recognised category of ‘men who have sex with men’ (MSM), who do not identify as gay. They see themselves as straight men who occasionally have sex with other men. The rest of the time they lead ‘straight’ lives. In sexual health services and health promotions, ‘men who have sex with men’ are at risk from sexual transmitted infections, and are targeted as a specific group. However, assumptions made by this report concluded:
“Testing showed that respondents were not in favour of asking about sexual behaviour in a social survey context, nor would it be appropriate in general purpose government surveys (p4)”.
Again, this conclusion was based on reports from the Office for National Statistics. In the present study, worryingly, the authors state:
‘As in the UK, deriving an individuals sexual orientation from a suite of questions results in higher LGB estimates in the US compared with using a single sexual identity question (p15)’
It is accepted in attitude measurement that single item responses are unsuitable. Using a multiple response measure, properly administered would produce a more accurate figure. Furthermore, research suggests that this figure would have been higher.The figures cited in the report for more methodological sound research range from 5% to 9% ( Joloza, Evans and O’Brien, 2010, p15). The current report says 1.5%.
In a survey with such political impact, the decision to use a single item is ill-advised and arguably reckless. Research convenience should not compromise validity. In this instance, it does.
Sensitivity of Measurement
Having abandoned the methodologically sound approach of using a ‘suite’ of questions, one might hope that at least the report would use a sensitive measure beyond crude, simplistic nominal categories. Actually no. In the 1940s, sex researcher Alfred Kinsey developed a more sensitive ‘sliding scale’ of sexuality. Instead, the present researchers ignore this and opt for the bluntest of instruments: Straight, gay or bi. This report didn’t even bother to include transgender in its analysis.
Firstly, consider the approach of ‘measuring’ ethnicity based on a ‘Black, White or Mixed’ categorisation. How accurately would this categorisation produce a representation of ethnicity in the UK? Any reputable survey offers a whole range of options for ethnicity with quite subtle distinctions. Even then, people may declare ‘other’. I would argue that sexuality is more complex than ethnicity. So why is measurement tool in the present report, measurably more simplistic? The answers is: ‘because the study has not been properly designed to fit the subject matter’. It has little or no ecological validity, that is, it means very little in the real world, except perhaps to fuel prejudice.
The Kinsey scale requires a respondent to use a zero to six scale. Where zero equals ‘exclusively heterosexual’ and six equals ‘exclusively gay’. This gives varying degrees of bisexuality, that is, from one to five. Now clearly, these sensitive data can be collapsed into cruder categories if needs be. The problem with collecting crude data from the outset, is that we can do little else with it. It offers nothing very meaningful just the willingless of people to use a limited set of labels.
Now imagine, we take three measures of attraction, behaviour and identity all of the sliding ‘zero to six’ scale. Wouldn’t this be a far more accurate reflection of a person’s sexuality orientation? It’s just a pity they didn’t do it in their report for the Office of National Statistics. Would it produce a higher percentage of lesbian, gay and bisexual people? Well, Joloza, Evans and O’Brien (2010, p15) would probably say ‘yes’. So why didn’t they do it?
So what exactly does this study measure? Well it doesn’t measure sexual identity in the UK. It measures the percentage of people sampled who are willing to declare a sexual identity label from a limited choice in interviews, with or without others present, in a particular time frame (for a study with poor ecological validity).
But the problems don’t end there. The report also reveals questionable interpretation from by its authors.
Confidentially and the Willingness to Respond
One statistic almost jumps out of the page to indicate that there’s something wrong with this study:
[P]eople (aged 16 and over) who identified as LGB had a younger age distribution than heterosexuals – 64.9 per cent were aged under 45 compared with 48.6 per cent of people who identify as heterosexual (p16).
In other words, younger people are more likely to report a ‘non-heterosexual’ identity than are older people. With no evidence to support the notion that older people are less likely to be gay, it has to be an artifact of this research. That is, older people either don’t identify with a ‘gay, lesbian or bisexual’ so readily, or are not so predisposed to tell a stranger with a clipboard. As such, the one-shot sexual identity is not fit for purpose. It’s possible that older people are more likely to remember the days before the 1967 Sexual Offences Act, and police entrapment strategies. It’s possible that they don’t use the word ‘gay’ and may prefer ‘homosexual’. It’s possible that they don’t like to divulge personal information to strangers unless absolutely necessary. There are definitely confounding variables at play and not just age.
According to this study gay, lesbian and bisexual have better jobs and are better educated. Again, the myth of the pink surfaces. Could it not be that young, well-educated, finnacially secure people are more likely to divulge their LGB sexual identity to a stranger? This means that less-empowered people more in need of support and services are not. Again the one-shot measure doesn’t appear to do its job.
The report makes a claim in the face of its own evidence that confidentiality basing this on the refusal rate:
There is no evidence of an adverse impact on response rates confirming the general acceptance of the question. Our analysis suggests response rates are broadly in line with earlier quantitative testing. Non response to the question was low with less than 4 per cent of eligible respondents refusing to answer, saying they did not know the answer or not providing a response (p26).
Perhaps this should read ‘no adverse impact on response rates, except for older, less financially secure, not-so-well educated, non-professionals’. For those in routine and manual occupations, the most frequent response to the sexual identity question was ‘other’ at 31.1%, more ‘popular’ than heterosexual at 29.4%. Almost a half (49.1%) of those who identified as gay and lesbian had managerial or professional occupations, compared to less than a third (30.6%) who identified as heterosexual/straight? Furthermore, 38.1% of Gay/Lesbian had a degree compared with only 21.9% of Heterosexual/Straight. Doesn’t all this seem odd? Yes! It suggests a significant bias in the sampling, the method and the results. In short, the flaws are evident but largely overlooked by the authors. Failure to do this in an undergraduate report would be severely penalised. But far more is at stake here. This report may inform social policy!
Looking at ethnicity, there’s a bias here too. For Heterosexual/Straight people 90.7% are White, whereas for Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual its 93.5%. However, for the ‘Other’ category for sexual identity, 14.1% are ‘other ethnic group’. For the ‘Don’t knows’, the figure for ‘other ethnic group’ is 18.2%. People from ‘Other ethnic groups’ were almost twice as likely to say ‘Don’t Know’ as say ‘Heterosexual’ (9.3%). They were almost three times more likely to say ‘Don’t Know’ as ‘Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual’ (6.5%). This suggests either a reluctance to declare sexuality or that they did not understand what the terms meant. Either way, it’s a shortcoming of this research.
It’s interesting to note that option one on the interviewers card (market research style) was ‘Heterosexual/Straight’ and option two was the less formal ‘Gay or Lesbian’, with option three as ‘Bisexual’. It’s interesting that whereas ‘both terms in option one and three can be applied to either men or women. For option two, you can’t have a lesbian man!The options do not use comparable terminology. If different terminology had been used, would the results have been different? If the options had been re-ordered, would the results have been different?Why is heterosexual the first option? Did this slightly increase the heterosexual figure. Research into research and experimter bias suggests it might. Had the survey not been carried out in a market research format would the results have been different?Did interviewer the tone of voice affect the way in which the questions were answered. I’s done endless market research interviewers on the street and most of the time I can work out what the researcher ‘wants’ me to say. Are you heterosexual <smiles with rising intonation? or gay <frowns, with falling intonation> or bisexual <spits>? It’s a slight exageration but it does happen.
Now let’s turn to the ‘less than four per cent refusal rate’ that caused the authors to discard the other evidence.
The authors state:
‘Prior to developing and testing work on the sexual identity question, the expectation was that the higher the number of adults in the household, the higher the proportion of item non response. This is be because some household members might be reluctant to disclose their sexual identity in the presence of others. However, the results from the IHS do not indicate this (p12).’
However they don’t make the connection between non-response rates and the willingness to declare a true label:
‘Another observation here is that the proportion of people reporting to be LGB in a household decreases as the number of adults in the household increases. There is currently no explanation why this is the case but this is something that could be considered for further investigation in future (p12)’.
One explanation might be that, the more people in the house the less likely people are to declare themselves to be ‘Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual’. They didn’t necessarily refuse they may have felt the need to protect their own privacy and lied or said ‘don’t know’.
So for people identifying as the as the number of people living in the house increases, the figure for ‘Heterosexual/Straight’ increases slightly. For Gay/Lesbian it falls from 1.3% in a single person household to only 0.3% in a four person plus household. The figures for Bisexual remain roughly the same. For ‘Don’t Know/Refusal’ the figures increase slightly as the number of people in the house increases. This suggests that there is an element of self-censorship in responses.
Think about it logically. If you want to keep your sexual identity secret from other members of the house, do you ‘refuse’ and cause the other house members to ask why, or do you just lie? Or if you live a ‘heterosexual’ life for 95% of the time and have recreational sex, exactly how do you respond to the stranger on the door step with the crude market research question?
What’s clear is that the current report has not adequately addressed the numerous problems it has generated with an inappropriate methodology for a complex subject. White, Black and Mixed would not be good enough for ethicoity, so why is it good enough here, for a subject arguable more sensitive and complex?
It’s important to remember that the Kinsey Team in he 1940s put the gay and bisexual figure as high as 37%. Of course the sampling has been criticised over the years. It probably did lead to an overestimation. Nevertheless the measure on which the Kinsey team based their research was exemplary. A one-shot question does not work for something as complex as human sexuality. The Kinsey measurement was complex and fit for purpose. It is not good enough to side step the issue of instrument accuracy with protests of convenience and acceptability to researchers. Rather than go for the easy, convenient option, get better researchers and design a better study where appropriate measures can be used. Otherwise all you get is conveniently produced meaningless results. Garbage in, garbage out.
So is this report, fundamentally flawed, practically worthless, irresponsible or dangerous? In my professional opinion, considering the plitical climate, I’d have to say that it’s all of those things. The ONS needs to stop engaging in groupthink and stop treating the complex notion of sexual orientation as some crass market research exercise. Patting themselves on the back, the authors conclude:
‘The introduction of the sexual identity question. . . in January 2009 followed rigorous testing and feasibility testing by ONS. The findings of this report suggest its implementation on the IHS in the first year has been a success (p26)’.
A success why what standards? Certainly not of academic rigour. We need high quality research data on which to make sense of our world and inform our social policy decisions. Sadly, this report fails to deliver and cannot be treated as anything other than a pilot study from which serious lessons need to be learned. The simplistic method does not work evidenced by the reports own figures. It fails to meet the standards of an undergraduate report, on which one can only conclude ‘must do better next time’. Sadly, the decision not to consider the ethical ramifications of publishing a flawed report is inexcusable and sheds light on the ability of the ONS to produce high quality data. It’s argubale negligence. Researchers have a responsiblity to consider how their research will be used. The ONS has failed to recognise its responsibility.
Maybe it does not commit the sin of commission of homophobia but it does commit the sin of omission in that it justifies the heterosexist ideology of rendering invisible sexual diversity.
So if we add in the refusals and the don’t knows, if we adjust the figures for age, ethnicity, education, profession and number of people in the household, what exactly would the figue be for ‘non-heterosexuals’? Well, your guess is as good as mine. It’s disappointing that this overblown, expensive pilot study has thrown up more questions than it answers, and we are back to simply ‘guessing’.
“All are equal but some are more equal than others” is not a direct quote from Minister for Equality but more verbal representation of the actions of our newly appointed Minister for Women and Equality, Theresa May. The Minister’s voting doesn’t read as the best curriculum vitae for the job. The course of Theresa May’s political life does not shout equality, it doesn’t even whisper it. It was expected that Chris Grayling would get the job, but he hasn’t exactly got a great voting record on equality issues relating to gay rights either.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet we can actually view the voting record of our MPs and Ministers to see if they actually do represent our values. Our Minister of a ‘equality’ shows a less than impressive record on equality issues relating to gay rights. Looking her record published on They Work For You, Ms May is classified as being moderately against equality relating to gay rights. Since 2001 she has mostly voted against equality, when she actually turn up to vote! Her rating is 31% for equality on this issue! Compare this to David Cameron’s 61.3% although he was absent from a few votes too, including the one to repeal Section 28. Nonetheless, Mr Cameron comes out as ‘moderately for’ equality. Of course it could be worse. William Hague only ‘chalks up’ 26%. He was either absent or opted against equality on this issue. However, all three did manage to drag themselves in to vote against the hunting ban. Cameron and Hague attended all votes and May only missed one. It doesn’t exactly shout ‘fairness and equality’. Gordon Brown‘s rating at 61.9% is equivalent to David Cameron’s on equality but voted ‘for’ the hunting ban. Chris Grayling scored 39.4%, only slightly better than Theresa May. However, it certainly could have been worse if Communities Secretary (although probably not gay communities), Eric Pickles had landed the equalities post with his 15.7% rating for equality. Even worse, ‘the quiet man’ Iain Duncan Smith, who is remarkably quiet on equality at a mere 7.7% rating. These last two make Theresa May look like Peter Tatchell! Furthermore, these cabinet choices undermine and contradict Cameron’s assertion that the Tory’s are ‘no longer the nasty party’. Suspending MPs for marking anti-gay comments contradicts his choices to put an habitual anti-equality voter in charge of equality.
Nevertheless, Ms May claims she is the right person for the job and that ‘homophobic bullying’ will be one of her priorities, despite having voted against the repeal of Section 28. Given her voting record, it’s hardly surprising that thousands have joined a facebook group and signed a petition calling for her resignation as ‘Minister for Equality’. And does her call for an International Day Against Homophobia sit easily with her heterosexist voting record on equality issues! It’s easy enough to smile for the camera and wave a flag for the day, but better to actually make a difference with the power of your vote. Otherwise, it’s PR tokenism and hypocrisy.
It will be interesting to see how these issues affect the Con-LibDem Coalition over the coming months. Compare Ms May’s record with that of Liberal Vince Cable with a 90.4% rating for equality. Treasure Secretary David Laws gained a similar rating of 90.1%. As for Nick Clegg, with only three opportunities to vote (and one missed), his rating of 64.3%. The appointment of Junior Minister for Equality Lynne Featherstone does in part help balance the equality with an equality rating of 64.3% (based on only three votes). However, she didn’t turn up for the vote on Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations.
Cary Gee makes the point in Tribune Magazine that, “A day before the general election was called, Cameron spoke of ‘the great ignored” – specifically mentioning gays. Ignored? But I would rather be ignored by a Tory government than crapped on”. Arguably, Ms May has made a political career of crapping on equality and gay rights, as have many of her colleagues. It could be argued that we should give Ms May the benefit of the doubt, but so far ‘equality’ has not benefitted from her conviction that some people are not as equal as others!
To protest about the appointment of Theresa May, write to your MP, sign the petition and join the FaceBook group, see links below. And, to see how your MP votes on equality issues visit: TheyWorkForYou.Com.
The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has, today, issued a statement on the petition to get an apology for treatment of Alan Turing. It is worth noting that many acknowledge that history would be very different for everyone if the Enigma codes had not been broken during World War Two. Sadly for Turing, his own fate was not substantially different than if the Nazis had triumphed. Here’s what Mr Brown has to say:
Prime Minister: 2009 has been a year of deep reflection – a chance for Britain, as a nation, to commemorate the profound debts we owe to those who came before. A unique combination of anniversaries and events have stirred in us that sense of pride and gratitude which characterise the British experience. Earlier this year I stood with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama to honour the service and the sacrifice of the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago. And just last week, we marked the 70 years which have passed since the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against Fascism and declared the outbreak of World War Two. So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain’s fight against the darkness of dictatorship; that of code-breaker Alan Turing.
Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can
point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ – in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence – and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison – was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own
life just two years later.
Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.
I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue.
But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate – by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices – that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years. It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.
So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.
If you would like to help preserve Alan Turing’s memory for future generations, please donate here: http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/
Alan Turing Petition
Following on from my post on homophobia in The Apprentice, it is interesting to note that the ‘Rebranding Margate‘ episode was broadcast last night (BBC1, 13/05/2009) without the alleged comment that sparked the controversy.
However, although the homophobia was not proudly on display, the stereotypes most certainly were. It seems that the myth of the pink pound is still offered as fact. Throughout the discussions the rationale offered as ‘they’ have more disposal income than the average person. So are there no gay men and lesbian women currently struggling with the economic downturn? If not, then I think we have found the answer to the worldwide recession. We all go gay! It would be great. Lots of holidays with people actually displaying good taste in their holiday attire. No worries of unemployment. Businesses would be immune from poor trading. The pink pound would be stronger than Sterling unless of course our European brothers and sisters bring out the pink Euro, then we’d all be f***ed again!
The ‘pink pound’ on one level may seem like positive stereotyping. However, it does tend to gloss over the fact that gay men and lesbian women are from all walks of life, which includes lower paid people with less disposable income. It has a parallel with assuming that all Jews are wealthy. Clearly any segment of the population incorporates more diversity than a simple pigeon-hole (stereotype) dictates.
As the mighty pink pound is yet to appear at the Bureau de Change, it looks like it might have to be a holiday in Margate this year!
The producers of The Apprentice are apparently considering how much of a discussion of homosexuality and homophobia to include in forthcoming episodes for fear of offending people. Maybe that’s a step n the right direction but the kind of language used to discuss the whole issue is very telling.
In a task to rebrand the ‘traditional’ UK seaside town of Margate one gay male contestant suggested it should be rebranded a gay resort. This led to a rather uneducated reply from female contestant that she wouldn’t want her son to meet a homosexual man. Chances are her son has probably encountered more than one gay man in his six year life with no ill effects. The idea that gay man corrupt children is not as the show’s insider termed it, ‘traditional’. It’s just ignonance of the facts. Using ‘tradition’ for excusing homophobia is as relvant as referring to racism as ‘traditional’. According to the so-called traditional view ‘Gypsies supposedly abduct the children, Homosexuals supposedly molest them and Black people supposedly eat them!’. It’s not traditional, it’s ignorance. (I’ve added lots of ‘supposedlies’ just to make sure that no one ‘traditionally’ quotes out of context!)
On the subject of tradition, the term ‘homosexual’ is used as a neutral term, whereas infact t was first coined (in the late 1800s) as a term for a particular kind of sexual impotence, referring to the passive partner in a sexual encounter. It was only in the early 20th Century tha he term was extended to the active partner. Science inevitably goes through stages of relevant ignorance too.
Whenever, faced with these kind of debates, it’s useful to exchange contexts for the comments. So what if the offending comment had referred to someone of another skin colour or another religion? What if a contestant in The Apprentice had implied fear of cannibalism as justificationb for racial segregation? And before we get ino the old discussion of whether gayness is learned, inherited or chosen, couldn’t we ask the same questions about religion? It’s not relevant here. The issue is whether it’s`acceptable to justify prejudice with ignorance or educate ourselves about subjects where our only knowledge base is folk tales and ‘fairy’ stories? The psychological evidence tells us that, ‘tradionally’, there is a connection between racism, sexism and homophobia.
So should the producers air the offending discussion and be damned? Perhaps we need to make up our minds, and have reasoned discussions about homophobia fits into the whole mechanism of prejudice. We’ll have made some progress when we say ‘informed discussion you’re hired’ and ‘ignorance, you’re fired’!
I was very disappointed that a great production of Phillip Pullman‘s His Dark Materials at The Birmingham Rep had to be marred by a little negative stereotyping. In Part Two, the angels were portrayed by the two male actors as rather ‘delicate’ and fey enough to get ripples of laughter. I was discussing the portrayal with someone in the bar at the interval who protested that ‘the angels are supposed to be asexual’, so why did it get a laugh and one did one bright spark in the audience whisper rather too loudly ‘they must be gay‘.
For me portrayal was unnecessary and would have been the equivalent of having two black angels sing ‘De Camptown Races’ and saying ‘Yes Masser, No Masser’.
I would be interested to know from whom the idea for ‘camp’ angels came? Was it the playwright (Nicholas Wright) or the directors (Rachel Kavanaugh and Sarah Esdail). I wonder what Phillip Pullman thinks about it, given his criticisms of C.S.Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, as sexist and racist. The difference it that the Lewis books need to be understood in the historical context of the 1950s. Maybe that’s no excuse, but it does beg the question: What excuse could there be for a 21st Century production to use cheap, lazy and unnecessary stereotyping?