How Powerful Sexist Men Are Advancing Women's Power Too (albeit not intentionally)
The current spate of accusations against powerful men is terrible, but may just have an upside...
Amidst all the sadness and anger of the current revelations and accusations of powerful men abusing women I am still hopeful for what this means for gender equality.
When I was a teenager it was accepted as routine that men and boys would make sexist comments to you; just leaving my home used to feel like running the gauntlet and as a young teenager I was hugely intimidated by it. It was so commonplace to be groped at work or on the way to school that we didn’t report it because we would be told to stop wearing mini skirts, take a different route, ignore them etc. I can remember being told by a teacher that men couldn’t help themselves if we dressed provocatively i.e. not perfect uniform and skirts covering our knees. That sounds sadly familiar, doesn't it?
There was a cloak of complicity over the actions of men and boys, even at a very minor level. When men hold the power all men are seen as powerful and all women are less powerful. And the consequences of that power imbalance shows in all sorts of ways; at its worse in the sexual abuse of women with women and girls not being believed by others in power. Or perhaps even worse, being believed but being rebuffed and belittled by the power of a society which accepted that men were superior to women and therefore this was ‘acceptable’ or ‘inevitable’ behaviour. You don’t have to think long to to bring to mind some great men in history and how they fell short when it came to their attitudes to women and the excuses made for them.
But that cloak is being swept aside by the actions of some courageous women; society is being forced to hold a mirror up against itself and it doesn’t like what it sees. People are asking why has this been happening for so long? And as more women and girls see women speaking out and being believed so will they speak out against sexism and the power imbalance. Just read some of the comments on the No More Page Three or Everyday Sexism sites and you’ll see what I mean
Wonderful women, recognising their own power, are speaking out and the times they are a’changing! More power and huge gratitude to them (and to the men who are supportive too). Most have paid a huge price but their courage is moving us nearer to the day when women will genuinely be treated by society as a whole as equals in their own right. True gender equality must surely follow soon!
You might also like to read Is Feminism on the Change?