I missed Kirsty Wark’s TV programme on Thursday but have just caught it on iPlayer. It’s called ‘Blurred Lines – The Battle of The Sexes.’
Kirsty was remarkably balanced about the whole thing which the Guardian described as ‘illuminating and stimulating’ but I found depressing and disturbing.
The programme looked at challenging gender-related areas including pornography, attitudes to rape, bullying online behaviour and varying degrees of misogyny.
Apparently it’s thought possible by some that women might have gone too far in their quest for equality so some, usually beleaguered, men are starting to hate us for it.
Some women (including me) were offended by extreme male behaviour here, some thought this was old hat stuff and some laughed it off, calling it ironic or best ignored. I think we’re wrong to dismiss this so lightly.
Areas of gender abuse the programme didn’t tackle
+ the abusers were almost exclusively male
+ some young females seemed to side with the males rather than their victims
+ alcohol clearly numbs the senses when it comes to public decency (including students on the train) but is this an excuse?
+ females who felt entitled to flaunt their bodies (sometimes for money as in models and prostitutes) seemed oblivious to their lost respect and the impact their bare behaviour has on other women/their gender.
Battle of the sexes concerns
The programme got me thinking about…
+ The temptation for feisty females to want to be more like men to be accepted in their career roles. How unambitious is that? Shouldn’t ambitious women want to do/be better AND be themselves? Not copycat men?
+ Rod Liddle’s attitude that women should ‘man up’ for serious online abuse because ‘it’s the same for men’. No it isn’t Rod; you might be used to it because you actively rattle cages but few women do; gender abuse is usually made by male bullies who are out to frighten women. And succeed.
+ Young women who feel that misogynistic abusive attitudes have to be lived with, like the young girl who was prepared to put up with not being able to play her interactive shoot-em-up PC games at night because of the online abuse she received. For being a woman.
The motoring industry perspective
Now what has all this got to do with FOXY Lady Drivers Club? Yes I run a motoring club for women within a masculine oriented industry so you might think I’d want to jump on any battle of the sexes bandwagon.
But I don’t recognise this level of offensive behaviour and this programme has helped put into perspective the industry’s leaning towards ‘Loaded-like’ models in advertising and promotional situations. I still feel sorry for scantily-clad girls who feel the need to do this at exhibitions and I am frequently offended by unnecessarily sexual motoring-related adverts and websites but I do find that when businesses/advertisers realise these can be offensive, they are less likely to do this again. Many in charge simply don’t realise that this is still going on in their business…
But it must be said – the majority of us, men and women, know that misogynistic behaviour isn’t appropriate today. In defence of women who don’t want to be seen as sex objects, I also defend men who don’t want to go shopping, do the cleaning or change nappies. You don’t have to…
You don’t have to because life is a series of relationships and we need to work hard to get them right if we want to.
If men or women are to be the sole breadwinner and/or the chief business honcho their partner will presumably support them to do their bit.
If a man and women compete for a promotion they have to assume the best one gets it (and try for the next one if it isn’t them).
If men and women in the same relationship are both heading up the career path one can assume they’ll have enough money for nannies, cleaners and gardeners…
So what’s the problem in terms of equality here?
The problem is often created within the media as was well illustrated by Rod Liddle’s attitude, some awful comments made about historian Mary Beard (who shouldn’t have been asked to comment about them I felt) and the troll-like behaviour that seems to zoom in from all parts of the world wherever women can be put down by men.
Women don’t do this about men, nor should we ever start to I hope..
But even so, women must not let misogyny flourish through well-intentioned apathy. Everyday sexism needs to be outed so that others think twice before resorting to this themselves. Simply hurling gender abuse without engaging the brain first needs to be managed more effectively by websites than ever before. If the post uses offensive words delete it. If the post is abusive delete it. And if there isn’t already (I’m not sure), there should surely be a central repository for all online abuse that gets investigated by the internet police. Regardless of gender.
The greatest disservice an otherwise excellent TV programme like this one achieves is that the rest of us forget that it is but a very small minority of individuals, usually male, that resort to this bad behaviour.
Let’s all remember that it’s usually enlightened men that have helped today’s high flying females to get where they are, because the males know it’s the right thing to do… and because otherwise UK business and our society in general is missing out on 50% of the available gender talent.
For me, I cannot speak too highly for the encouragement I have had from so many men in the UK motor industry. They want it to be a more gender diverse industry and together we are making genuine inroads into burying the ‘last male bastion’ image that many women still have of garages and used car showrooms. We just need a few more females in at the top, in UK Boardrooms to be specific, to make it even easier for talented others to follow in their footsteps in future.
Here’s a link to the programme in case you missed it http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0436qlw