Let’s pay more attention to this subject as it has been very prevalent in the mainstream media more recently. Everyone is talking about transgender and gay rights, yet we as a society are still being tripped up, time and time again over sexism towards women (hey maybe if I changed sex, this wouldn’t be a problem?!!). If you are bloke reading this, please don’t click off, there may be a nugget for you too!!. We need more men out there to recognise that there is a real problem that needs to be at least ‘attempted’ to be tackled in the work place, church, society, through parenting and so on. If we truly want equal rights in our society, then we all need to speak out about this long hidden and traditional discrimination. It has wormed it’s way into our culture since the beginning really! I am deemed a ‘feminist’ if I speak out my concerns and am labelled as ‘manly’ if I don’t accept the status quo. Can I win ? C’mon people, other European countries (notably Sweden) have gotten over sexism, why can’t we?
The sex discrimination Act of 1975 was brought in to help protect rights, but views on this subject has barely ceased to progress. This is reflected in pay rises for men over women, bonuses for men, even discrimination for women who are trying to return to work after having a baby (Oh yes, I’ve been asked in an interview, if I plan to have anymore babies!). Shared maternity and paternity has finally come into play but it is very slowly taking root, with few men taking it up. According to the gender equality rights in pay, the gap is still somewhat gaping (18 %). One of the best female sport presenters Clare Balding is paid much less than her counterpart Gary Lineker What does this say about how we view the credibility of men and women in our society?
The women’s Olympian Bobsleigh team, who after hard training for 3.5 years were preparing to go to the Olympics were cruelly told that their only source of funding was cut (of about £50,000). This substantial amount of money was classed as an ‘Overspend’ of money. Yet, three male bobsleigh teams funding was ring fenced. Mica McNeill then set up a crowd-funding website to raise funds in order to achieve their goal. They have already raised over 30k . Can you imagine how they must have been feeling after being betrayed in such a ruthless way ? Further reports of sexism, bullying and racism were raised by athletes in the teams prior to this; they were told if they spoke out, they may be stripped of the chance of competing, so the silence just kept going. Another high profile case of an area of society that quite obviously behaves in unacceptable ways. To be treated with contempt and thrown to the bottom of the pile by two chauvinist pigs!
We have even see the BBC Chair call for an end to sexism specifically female journalists. It is the norm for women to be constantly interrupted by counterparts when asking good questions to clientele. Explicit and aggressive behaviour are made commonplace in this work place. Laura Kuenssberg has been a regular target online to sexual abuse and name-calling. She even has a personal bodyguard because it got so bad. Likewise Diane Abbot got a lot of crap from members of public when she forgot some key figures for labours manifesto . So, yes it was a mistake, but are we not allowed to make any on air? Does she need to be berated in a humiliating way ? It is cruel and damaging . The question that has arose is, why does a woman who is doing her job, get targeted ? She repeatedly received sexist and racist abuse online. Face to face, they would never dream of saying such crap. There are consequences to defacing a human who has feelings ( https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/sep/05/diane-abbott-more-abused-than-any-other-mps-during-election)
Again, with the rise of online use of porn, women are being degraded in the home, sexualised and expected to ‘act out’ in certain ways. This attitude eventually comes into the open through words and attitudes. We have seen it through pop idols such as Katy Perry. Eventually this behaviour will and has become embedded into society and normalised (Reist, 2009). We know there is a rise in sexual crime across the country and rape unbelievably has been glamourized by some porn movies (Dines, 2010). Some of you may be thinking you have never experienced sexism, however unless you have been in someone’s shoes that have been victimized , it is a silent and deadly sin that often gets ignored or goes unchallenged. When I worked in the outdoors, I was a rarity as a female instructor. All but one other colleague was male. Competitiveness, jokes, ego and dick measuring was just the norm. Men ran the show, influenced decisions and had a one -way track of thinking. This lack of compassion and vulnerability was noticeable and unbearable at times.
My husband and I decided that after our second baby, he was going to stay at home for some of the childcare, while I went out to work after nine months or so. I felt ready and he was more than happy to be at home too. I have seen the bond between dad and baby daughter increase significantly. When daddy comes in, I hear my fourteen-month daughter scream with delight ‘Dada’ and then starts pointing furiously at him. I have noticed that his character has moulded and influenced our baby’s cheeky little character and great sense of humour! My husband has done school runs for several months now and has taken his part in household duties. He and I have both benefited from a more balanced share in parenting. We both understand the demands of parenting a little baby and we can both share and discuss in the difficulties and challenges of this stage of life. This partnership has strengthened and reinforced the dependability we have on each other as a family unit and that we both need each other to survive well and it works well!
Likewise, with a female and male perspective at work, you would have the best of both worlds and everyone would benefit. If we can break free from gender stereotyping, we can then empower both men and women to speak out more freely about the hard stuff of life ! We need to give each other a fighting chance before we misjudge or deem someone as useless, which we are all guilty of doing. Why wait for another generation to die off, before we change our values? And men, you need to include yourself in this bigger picture too.
My next blog will be focusing on the churches attitude towards sexism. So if any of you have any stories, I would like to post some guest blogs next month . Please email me.