The growing public disrespect of women

by | Apr 7, 2017

Have we stopped noticing the growing disrespect of women?

The open disrespect of women is creeping back into our our culture so insidiously now that we barely notice it.   Whether online, in the written and social media or television it continues to grow. Presidents, journalists, academics, politicians, football coaches, online commentators; all play a role. Not forgetting every day man and woman.  [Tweet "It is a deadly cancer that causes the undermining of women which starts with girls as young as five."] Like Ovarian cancer named the silent killer that only women can suffer from, it creeps up with no warning leaving devastation in its wake. We need to lose the softer, more forgiving tones that the public disrespect of women produces and call it what it really is. Every day discrimination.

disrespect of women

Read: Every day sexism highlighted in 4 great videos

This is not the subtle, unconscious, "benevolent" bias that we read about in the workplace, where women are channeled into "pink skill " silos of HR, marketing and communication or asked to serve coffee at meetings. Or called  girls, sweetie, pet and love. Or assumptions made about a woman's career ambitions because she has a family. Or Barbie having a pink refrigerator. The stuff I am talking about is open disrespect of women in  public arenas.

These are only a few recent examples which have been shockingly public:

    • The President of the United States openly shuns the female leader of the free world
  • Judge gives a white college kid a light sentence for violent rape  - victim shaming in the process
  • Domestic violence in Russia has been decriminalised with a vote of 380-3.
  • Playboy is resuming the publication of naked women
  • A UK newspaper the Daily Mail talks about the legs of the two most important women in British politics. May's response was inadequate (again)  Thank heavens for Nicola Strugeon to give a robust reply.
  • A Polish MEP suggests that women are less intelligent than men and should be paid less. Thankfully there were penalties imposed.
  • A British football coach suggests a woman should have a "slap"

Read: Should every day sexism be named and shamed?

Corrosive impact

So it should not be surprising that [Tweet "research shows that girls as young as 5 believe that boys are more capable than they are"]. We should not be shocked that 1 in 6 girls under the age of 10 are ashamed of their bodies. 83% of women believe that gender discrimination exists in the workplace and we have to be more forceful at stamping this out. All this is rooted in the every day disrespect of women in the public domain and what seems to be a tolerance of unacceptable behaviour, even from female leaders.

Read: Sexism and the ‘alt-right’ – what does it mean?

But when the message is reversed you can see how ridiculous it sounds as this brilliant, MUST watch, parody illustrates.

The problem is rooted in a lack of thought and lack of education, as well as a failure to understand the corrosive impact and consequences that this has on women, many of whom are forced to endure unacceptable levels of abuse.

Geena Northway, runs a shelter for women seeking support for domestic violence:

"If high profile, well-educated, public figures endorse the disrespect of women,  whether physical, emotional or verbal, imagine how that is perceived by the public. It makes it seem OK and acceptable".

Disrespect for women needs to be called out whenever it happens. It contributes to every day sexism which needs to be dug out of our culture before we completely regress to the 1950's.

For advice on tackling discrimination and sexism in the workplace – contact us now

Staff Writer: Career Contributor
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