The return of a misogynist culture
A deepening misogynist culture leads to increased tolerance of crimes against women
The media has been flooded with news items regarding crimes against women. Some of them are horrific. Others are so deeply embedded in our daily cultures that we barely register that they are crimes at all, let alone a response. Some generate global outrage, but this is followed by a cover up, or failure to follow through with any real penalties or consequence for the perpetrators. Some say we are observing the rebirth of a misogynist culture and seeing a regression. Others maintain that despite the best efforts over the past 50 years, the misogynist culture of old has never really gone away.
Crimes against women are still significant, both violent and indirect. But it seems that we are impervious to what is going on around us. The daily news is peppered with stories about women being exploited and abused with barely a comment. Diatribes from the likes of Donald Trump demeaning women, sit out there on cyber waves. Many denounce him. But he has still secured the Republican nomination, even garnering votes from women. Those who think his behaviour is unacceptable, seem reluctant to withdraw their support. He could even become the next U.S President.
In the ultimate battle of male egos over the UK's membership of the E.U., a female politician was brutally murdered doing what women do - connecting with her constituents. The communication style of this campaign reached hysterical levels, with racist campaigns suggesting breaking point was nigh. Predictably someone cracked. Jo Cox was a passionate campaigner for human rights, children and women.
There is an outcry about some of these incidents, but then what?
A study launched by organisations JUMP and Axiom Consulting shows what we know to be anecdotally the situation. Many men feel threated by the movement for gender balance. At the same time, perhaps not coincidentally, we are seeing a growth in beards as a male fashion statement. Research from Australia, U.S. and India suggests that men who sport beards are more likely to be sexist, than their clean shaven counterparts. According to Rob Pellegrini, U.S psychologist, beards have always come in and out of fashion when masculinity was felt to be under threat.
As women outstrip men in school and education, is this what is going on? There is much talk about the angry white male. But is there a reversion to a misogynist culture or did it never go away?
The crimes and offences listed below are only the tip of the iceberg, and I have only selected a few of the widely talked about incidents. Many others do not make the mainstream headlines of the international press. An even greater number go totally unreported.
Here are a list of some stories that made headlines recently. At one end of the spectrum they are savage and brutal.
- ISIS burned 19 girls to death for refusing to have sex with jihadists.
- The Saudi government released a tape teaching men how to beat their wives. Countries reliant on trade with this country fail to apply sanctions.
- A Standford undergraduate, Brock Turner, rapes an unconscious women and violates her with a foreign object. He receives only a light sentence of 6 months from a male judge. His father, Dan Turner, jumps in to support him suggesting that it was a tough price to pay for "20 minutes of action." Despite an international outcry, to date, no action has been taken to review the sentence.
- Jo Cox "Remain" campaigner murdered in broad daylight because of her political views
Women are targets of violent workplace crimes - although this is not about exclusively about gender. It's because they are in professions where victims are targeted and become collateral damage. Read: Workplace violence the hidden threat for women.
Examples of white collar crimes against women
In comparison the white-collar crimes committed against women may appear benign. These infractions are barely reported as gender based offences. Yet the reality is that these crimes have greater impact on women. This situation has become our cultural norm and goes almost unnoticed. Even in office and business situations a misognyst culture can prevail:
- Sports Direct, a UK sports retailers is being investigated for mal-practise and exploitation of employees and abuse of their rights. Not only were the employees hired on zero hour contracts, but they were receiving below the minimum wage. Punitive working conditions have resulted in 80 ambulance call-outs to one site in two years, with reports that one woman gave birth in a company toilet. Women make up the bulk of zero hour contract workers, trapped by low paid and insecure jobs. Where was HR in all of this?
- Walmart the US retailer was cited as the worst company in America in 2015. One of the reasons was for underpaying female employees and neglecting pregnant women.
- The BHS scandal where a major UK. department store chain was sold for £1 by Sir Philip Green and then run to the ground by its new owner. The chain now faces closure with the loss of 11000 jobs. Additionally there is a mysterious gap in the pension fund which will impact 20000 people. 76% of retail workers are women.
- Bullying - 52% of women say they are bullied in the workplace
- Sexual harassment - 1 in 3 women reports being sexually harassed at work
The reality is that the workplace should have improved for women. But in many ways it it hasn't. A misogynist culture prevails despite evidence to suggest that the business benefits are incontrovertible. We need to start seriously asking ourselves why that is. And then coming up with some half decent answers.
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