My wife is reading a book called Everyday Sexism, I noticed as I brought her a cup of tea in bed on Sunday morning. Not tips on how to be sexist everyday, it turned out, but a book about how sexism is still endemic in our society. Not as blatant as in the past perhaps, but there still, skulking around. I’ve not read it, but I will do.
We know the stuff. Comments on the clothing and appearance and weight of women rather than their intelligence or abilities. Assumptions about the interests of kids. The father I chatted to at the school gates who was concerned about women in engineering because of their emotions. (I shit you not!).
We see it the other way too. Comments about dads “babysitting” when they are in charge of the kids. Parenting we call that. Or assuming the dad dressed the little ones if their outfit doesn’t go.
Unfortunately, I find myself doing it with my kids. I instinctively and unthinkingly pick the pink cup when getting Lois or Carrie a drink, and I’d pick a blue one if one of their boy friends wanted one. Is that where it starts, little things? Little assumptions. Maybe, like a butterfly flapping its wings in Australia leading to a storm in England, every time someone picks a pink cup for a girl a fairy dies… No, wait, that’s not it. Maybe each pink cups equates to half a percent pay difference when they’re adults. Or a grope in a lift. I’m being flippant of course, and maybe I shouldn’t, but sexism is a problem in our society that needs fighting on all fronts.
It’s one of those things that makes me embarrassed to be human. Like racism and war and child abuse. We think we’re oh so clever because of all the technology we create and our dominance of the world, and yet those very things are destroying, literally, the foundations under us – i.e. our planet. Cameron making fun of Corbyn’s clothes and Trump raging about border walls make me cringe. They expose us for the primitive species we really are.
Sexism is something we can all fight. But as Liz says about Everyday Sexism, it needs to be read by men, too. They should be the target audience, really, because despite my comments above about it going both ways, it’s clear where the main issue lies. And as a father of two girls I find it of great personal interest how their generation of boys are raised.
Steve Mayes | Steve Mayes Photography