The worrying normalisation of misogyny

by Feb 6, 2017

The car ad that prompts a sexist backlash

Audi, the car manufacturer, recently released an ad for the Super Bowl which has become controversial. It was not because the message relating to gender parity, was particularly contentious or new. It wasn’t. It was a dad’s message to his daughter. According to the World Economic Forum‘s Global Gender Gap Report of 2016, the US is lagging behind many other countries in this area, sitting in 35th place. But what does stand out about this video is the number of “thumbs down” a car ad would be receiving, compared to the number of “likes.” There is a significant difference. Not just that, the nature of the comments attributed to the video is worthy of mention, many of which are extremely sexist. Today it is not uncommon to see an outpouring of virulence and sexist commentary, across all platforms. Sadly, the normalisation of misogyny is becoming an increasingly common part of our daily social media diet. It suggests that gender resentment is hovering very close to the surface and can spew out at the slightest, even benign, provocation.

Read: Misogyny as a hate crime, effective or just words?

The normalisation of misogyny has become part of our daily diet

Threatened base

It would be too simplistic to blame one person totally for this trend.  But there is no doubt as a senior world leader, President Trump has in many ways legitimised the outpouring of sexist commentary and overseen the normalisation of misogyny. He is the champion for many men who feel aggrieved. In his election campaign it was suggested that “he is saying what we are all thinking.” And let’s not forget this, there are also many women who admire and support that stance.

What we can’t ignore, is that this base was pre-existing. He just tapped into it. He has simply given people permission to communicate their views in the fullest of voices. The anonymity and pace of social media allows both men and women to vent with venom, in a way that we have not experienced before. Comments that in another generation would have been contained in a small and local group, now shoot around the world within nanoseconds. There is no time for reflection and even deleted content can be retrieved by some IT geek, somewhere, with the click of a mouse.

The world order is changing. [Tweet “Women make up 50% of the workforce and 60% of graduates.”] For the first time in history men and women are competing in the same workplace. Companies can be run with the touch of an iPad. Blue-collar manufacturing jobs traditionally occupied by men are disappearing.  AI will eliminate 5 million jobs worldwide by 2020. Trump and others, tap into groups that feel threatened both by economic and social circumstances, as well as other demographics (migrants, the educated and women just to start.) They are experiencing a dialling back of their cultural and economic dominance, which is difficult to handle and harder to accept.

Read: How the Mancession impacts women

Turning back the clock

 

normalisation of misogyny

Violence against women was a ‘private matter of discipline’

Sara Grossman in her article  “Masculinity,anxiety, fear of the other in the age of Trump”  suggests that we are seeing a return to McCarthyist thinking of the 50s.

While Donald Trump—with his casually offensive comments towards an array of groups, proud references to penis size, and endless remarks on how ugly, fat, or sexually appealing any particular woman is—may seem like an entirely new phenomenon, his strategy could be taken right out of McCarthy’s playbook.

In cultures which are coming to terms with terrorism, violence, economic uncertainty and changing cultural norms, many people are experiencing acute anxiety. Progressive, diverse and inclusive values are being labelled “left and liberal.” [Tweet “Compassion and empathy are now frequently perceived to be political positions.”]

Read: Why we choose tall men 

In Europe women want  to nudge forward what seems like a stalling movement for gender parity in their regions. But at the same time many feel that they have to support women in other countries who are experiencing a backward shift towards “hegemonic masculinity”  defined as:

dominant socially constructed form of masculinity exists which is “culturally exalted above other expressions of masculinity” as well as femininity

In Russia domestic violence has been partially decriminalised. In the US women are losing control of their reproductive rights.  We are seeing cultural shifts that endorse and support male dominance and an emergence of “toxic masculinity,” that damages men and women equally.  The reality is also that Audi’s executive team is far from balanced with only two women on board.

This normalisation of misogyny is only the outward sign of worryingly deeper, polarising cultural trends which need to be discussed and addressed before they get worse.

If you need to find the top female talent for your organisation – contact 3Plus

 

 

 

 

 

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
follow me

Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services

Individual services

Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.

Corporate services

The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)

Upcoming events

Events

Read Dorothy Dalton's latest Interview with Go Solo: Building Inclusive Work Places 

📢New Programme available with 3Plus International

“If you have a brain you have a bias” and nowhere is this more apparent than in our hiring processes.

The ‘How to Mitigate Bias in the Recruitment Process’ programme is designed to convey the serious nature of bias in the recruitment process with a focus on gender bias and the way it impacts both businesses and organisations, but in a way that is thought-provoking and engaging.

 

 

Full programme details HERE

Dates for the Diary

Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges women face in this new totally digital world.

 

best job search

 

3Plus Online Learning Programs 

 

 

 

 

Download and listen free podcasts

Related articles

The hidden commitments that hold us back

The hidden commitments that hold us back

Ever found you have set yourself goals but can’t seem to achieve them? One way to identify your personal hidden commitments is to reflect on your actions and look at the behaviours which hold you back.

read more
How to manage a small team inclusively

How to manage a small team inclusively

Learn to manage a small team inclusively. D & I are not the preserve of large conglomerates and can be challenging in smaller environments. Read on if you run a small business or team.

read more