Sexism is more ‘in your face’ in Britain than in other countries, a United Nations investigator has claimed. I can see why the UN’s Rashida Manjoo might think this – for better or worse, sexism is a topic that features frequently in British publications. I imagine the Pakistani, Egyptian and Sudanese press don’t give it quite as much coverage.
I’m going to assume this was the official’s logic: we write about it a lot, ergo it must be prevalent. Her research would have been easy. All those tweets about #EverydaySexism. A cabinet with fewer women than men. Page Three!
We’ve got a problem. Send help.
Except that we really don’t. Feminism has reached its fourth wave, and by and large, women are doing ok. There’s work to be done – domestic violence is still widespread, and there could be many more female CEOs in the FTSE 100. But let’s imagine the claims of #EverydaySexism from women in countries like Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Mali: #GangRape; #Stonings; #AccusationsOfWitchcraft; #ExtremeGenitalMutilation. I know where I’d rather live.
We’re used to reading about sexism in Britain nowadays. Occasionally, people panic, and treat something that is simply infantile with national outrage – take the response to the Facebook group Women Who Eat on Tubes. But collectively (and from points all along the political spectrum), Britain’s scribes do a good job smoking out foul play. Genital mutilation – which has no place in any country – has been forcefully criticised, and yesterday, a landmark trial began. Too late, yes, but at least some action is being taken.
So welcome to Britain, Ms Manjoo, where sexism is ‘in your face’, because it’s up for discussion. Yes, we still have some problems to sort out, but Britain is progressive when it comes to women’s rights, especially in comparison to many other countries. Go deal with them before you start lecturing us.