'My sister was called a whore and a slut by men driving by, just for walking home by herself' - but sure, women are equal now (more or less)

Our campaigner, whose runs the cult Everyday Sexism blog, on a feminism for today

Share

It’s a common refrain; one that pops up again and again in the mailboxes and conversations of those writing about gender imbalance or even just daring to talk about it. “Women are equal now (more or less)”. Why, it is frequently demanded, do we continue to bang on about something that is barely even an issue any more? Why not think about some of the real problems in the world, given that we women in the UK now live ‘gilded lives’ and, to all intents and purposes (apart from a few little ifs and buts) have achieved equality?

Those little ifs and buts don’t half have a habit of adding up though…

Women are equal now (more or less). Apart from the fact that in our parliament today, where the policies and legislation that affect us are debated and defined, less than one in four MPs is female and women make up only a fifth of the membership of the House of Lords. And in the courts where cases are tried to comply with those laws, just 4 out of 38 Lord Justices of Appeal and 17 out of 110 High Court Judges are female.

Women are equal now (more or less). But in our most prestigious art institution, the National Gallery, it was reported in 2010 that out of 2,300 works, the collection contained paintings by only 10 women. At our Royal Opera House, it has been 13 years since a female choreographer was commissioned to create a piece for the main stage. And of the 573 listed statues commemorating people around the UK, only 15% are of women.

Women are equal now (more or less). Though according to the UKRC, less than 1 in 10 of our engineers are female – “less than half the proportion of France or Spain”. The Royal Society has never had a female president and only 6% of the current Fellowship is made up of women. And in chemistry, whilst 50% of undergraduates are women, they make up only 6% of professors.

Women are equal now (more or less). Except that they only write a fifth of front-page articles and 84% of those articles are dominated by male experts or subjects. Women directed just 5% of the 250 major films of last year, down nearly by half from the paltry 9% in 1998. And while only around one in five UK architects is female, 63% of them report experiencing sexual harassment during their careers.

Oh yes, women are equal now (more or less). But in a Home Office survey as recently as 2009, 20% of those polled said it was acceptable in some circumstances “for a man to hit or slap his wife or girlfriend in response to her being dressed in sexy or revealing clothes in public”, and 36% said a woman should be held fully or partially responsible if she is sexually assaulted or raped whilst drunk.

But let’s concentrate on other things, because women are equal now (more or less). Though a woman wrote to us last week that her “daughter asked today if she could change into a boy so she could go into space”. And another said “My sister was called a whore and a slut by men driving by just for walking home by herself from work.” And another was sexually assaulted by a man in a club, and another was told by her boss to wear a skirt and heels because it would be more “flattering” than trousers and another had a man at work suggest to a male colleague, referring to her, that he should “Just smack her around some, she’ll shut up”

Let’s not make a fuss about it though, because women are equal now (more or less). Although last week a woman of 31 died after reportedly being denied the potentially life-saving treatment she needed on the grounds that Ireland is “a Catholic country”. And as another woman cycled through central London she reported how, “a van driver blocked my path so he could shout "I'M GOING TO RAPE YOU!"”. And according to average figures, 2 women were killed last week by current or former partners, there was a phone call to the police every minute about domestic violence and every nine minutes a woman was raped.

But don’t worry, pipe down, hush up, get a grip, calm down dear.

Because women are equal now (more or less).

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Apprenticeships

£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager-Alcohol-OTE £90,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum + £50,000 OTE + Car, Mobile, Benefits: h2 Recruit Lt...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£23200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Austen Lloyd: Company Secretary

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: EAST ANGLIA - SENIOR SOLICITOR LEVEL ROLE** -...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Buy from Amazon and Apple and it’s you that ends up owned

Boyd Tonkin
Hughes in Durban in 2009, celebrating the first of his two centuries in the second Test against South Africa  

Sport will always be risky – we must accept that, even in the wake of the tragic death of Phillip Hughes

Rosie Millard
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game