The true scandal of sexism
Laura bates
Simon and schuster
Again I’m reading a book that in my utopian world of equality there really should be no need to write. Women experience discrimination and harassment almost daily. Whether that is direct through receiving less pay or opportunities in the workplace or through looks or conversations as they walk down the street. Laura Bates highlights this throughout the book.
I can’t claim to have any real understanding but as someone who has chosen to be vegan I feel I have an opening and very minute glimpse into it. My every meal is questioned when out with those who aren’t vegan, celebrated by those who are. People who would pass little comment to fellow meat eaters about the content or nutritional value of their choice of food suddenly become experts in the field when talking to those who chose a different lifestyle. Well women didn’t choose, same as transgender but they are never more than a couple of steps away from some justification.
Bates opens the book with a discussion on street harassment, how people feel daily when eyes or hands are being directed unwantedly at their bodies. When derogatory comments are made if they object. How somehow it’s the fault of the victim by questioning the perpetrator. As a near 50 year old make never confronted by this I can forget how real and constant the issue of street harassment is. And that’s just a starting point.
This book is a series of well researched and informative previously published articles. Sound bites to circumvent sexism by plainly stating horrendous facts. Facts around sexual harassment and rape, in 2013 the uk office for national statistics claimed in a report that 85,000 rapes are committed annually. 90% of all rapes are committed by people know to the victims. 15% of rape is reported.
Facts around workplace discrimination. But mostly around the language we use everyday. We can see that with the discussions around the recent trial of rugby players in Belfast. Whilst the players were found not guilty, the sentiment and style of reporting was fascinating to follow.
Stark statistics around human life are listed throughout the book. In the UK over 100 women are murdered annually by people known to them, and over 150 women’s kill them selves as a direct result of experiencing domestic violence. Whilst the stark reality is uncomfortable reading throughout it is when bates writes about online activity when it gets really disturbing. Think about the internet, the information available and the fact that people can see it claim to be practically anything. Free speech gets bandied about but what if that takes someone’s freedom?
Ireland also gets a mention in relation to the eighth amendment. The context being an Irish minor who was placed in a psychiatric clinic against her will for requesting a termination or those that have had to carry a pregnancy full term even though early on it is found to be not viable.
It is this everyday sexism that needs to be tackled. The casualisation of reporting and terms we use. The less we normalize these terms the greater chance of success. “Even when people are actively thinking of initiatives to engage women and girls in areas they are traditionally under-represented, they don’t see a problem with using sexism and stereotypes to try to address the gap. The irony is astounding “

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