current affairs

Sexism still rife in 2013. Can it be stopped?

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2013, the overall gender gap has decreased across the globe, and Iceland has come out top for the fift

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2013, the overall gender gap has decreased across the globe, and Iceland has come out top for the fifth year running. The Nordic countries top the chart year after year, thanks to their generous maternal and paternal leave policies and a health system to be envied by the rest of the world. However, other countries still appear to be incredibly backward in their treatment of women. Chinese parents tend to stick to rigid gender stereotypes, encouraging their little girls to become flight attendants rather than Policewomen, which is deemed one of the many “inappropriate” jobs for women to perform. It is out of “respect for women’s safety” according to China’s education ministry and these views have become cemented in Chinese society. Despite a larger number of girls attending University than boys, they are banned from studying a variety of subjects, including tunnel engineering and geology. 

Driving Ban
Did you know that driving risks damaging women’s ovaries? Me either. My driving instructor failed to mention that one. This insightful remark came from a conservative Saudi cleric as a response to the campaign to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia. Thousands have signed the petition to lift the ban on women driving which leads to women being arrested or fined if seen behind the wheel unless it is “out of pure necessity”. What is deemed as “necessesity” is ultimately down to the Saudi police who enforce this rule. Women who regularly drive are told they are responsible for having “children with clinical problems of varying degrees.” Just what imaginary data the Sheikh used to come to this conclusion I do not know, but he’s probably been comparing notes with Bernard Manning.
With Lab Bible chauvinism and casual sexism spreading around campuses in freshers’ week, it’s hard to believe we are living in a country, let alone a world, without prejudice. You just have to look to Google auto-complete to find that women should “be seen and not heard”, “stay at home” and to “know their place”. Thanks for the misogynistic insight into the internet, Google. UniLad recently had to apologise for publishing an article which supported the idea of non-consensual sex. When is rape going to stop being a laughing matter? Does it have to happen to someone you love or care about before it stops being funny? “It’s not rape if you shout ‘surprise!’ is a common statement among young men who, let’s face it, probably have not ever satisfied a woman anyway. It is flippant comments like this that need to be stamped out if men are ever to take the suffering of women seriously.
Sexism below the belt
Edinburgh University have supposedly banned Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ from being played on campus, due to its ambiguously sexual lyrics. To be honest, that is barely the tip of the iceberg. How many ‘hoes’ did Ludacris have, again? Sexism in music has been around for so long, it’s hardly ever noticeable. I doubt anyone would have even been aware of the ‘controversial’ lyrics of ‘Blurred Lines’ if there hadn’t been so many boobs in the video. Sexist musicians aren’t going anywhere. Especially with artists like Kelly Rowland banging on about how she loves ‘Kisses Down Low’. 
In the UK we consider ourselves to be so far ahead of other countries when it comes to the treatment of women. We have come a long way since the suffragettes considering women here are allowed to drive, vote and have almost any career they wish, but sexism is everywhere, and it’s just accepted as “banter”. 
In Sweden it is just as common for a wife to pick up her briefcase at the start of a working day as it is for her husband to stay home with the baby. Their gender gap is so narrow that it barely exists at all. It’s no secret that they are leaps and bounds ahead of countries such as Saudi Arabia. Yemen is arguably the worst country to live in for a woman, where they are barely recognised as human beings. 52% are married before they reach 18 years old, and 14% before they even reach 15. Many become pregnant as soon as they are married, still children themselves, and seven women a day die from complications during childbirth.
Unacceptable behaviour
It may seem trivial to complain about sexism in the UK when elsewhere women are suffering in ways we cannot imagine, but the fight has to start somewhere. Being as fortunate as we are, we should not let men get away with commonplace, casual sexist behaviour. We should be setting an example to the countries where women aren’t so lucky; showing that men cannot get away with this kind of behaviour.
I appreciate having the option to choose to be a miner if I so feel like it, and the fact that I’m allowed to drive whenever I want. I’m thankful that I’m not forced into marriage or having children and the men in my life love and respect me. The next man to try and rate me out of ten, however, should not expect me to take it lightly.
Image by: ctrouper
Is sexism rife in 2013? Is it ever acceptable to outwardly judge gender? Have your say in the comments section below.